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Improvisation, Race, and Sound Recording

Karl Coulthard

Published: 2010-06-15

ARTICLE: This article describes the different technological constructions of the 1956 Duke Ellington performance at Newport, Rhode Island. It pays particular attention to the reconstruction of the solo by saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, and argues that the sound recording of improvised jazz can both mediate and construct racial and commercial politics. AUDIO: Mono and Stereo recordings of Ellington's 'Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.'

Available Files

  • improvisation_race_recording.pdf

    90 KB | application/pdf

  • 01_Diminuendo_and_Crescendo_in_Blue_-_Mono_Version.m4a

    3 MB | audio/mp4

  • 02_Diminunedo_and_Crescendo_in_Blue_-_Stereo_Version.m4a

    3 MB | audio/mp4


So one of the things that improvisation has come to mean in the context of highly technological performance is that improvisation is the last claim to the legitimate presence of a human in the performance of music.

– Bob Ostertag