Skip to Content

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


Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it ("Mobilitas Animi" 113).

– George E. Lewis