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The Bitter but Beautiful Struggle: Improvisation and Imagination in New Orleans

George Lipsitz

Published: 2010-06-08

This article articulates how the art of improvisation has shaped the contours of Black culture in New Orleans, and the way it continues to be used to combat poverty, police brutality, neo-liberal plans for reconstructing the city to serve the interests of investors, and many other issues related to This article articulates how the art of improvisation has shaped the contours of Black culture in New Orleans, and the way it continues to be used to combat poverty, police brutality, neo-liberal plans for reconstructing the city to serve the interests of investors, and many other issues related to race, space, and power in New Orleans.

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Improvisation implies a deep connection between the personal and the communal, self and world. A “good” improviser successfully navigates musical and institutional boundaries and the desire for self-expression, pleasing not only herself but the listener as well.

– Rob Wallace