Jazz is typically characterized as a uniquely American form of artistic expression, and narratives of its history are almost always set within the United States.
Yet, from its inception, this art form exploded beyond national borders, becoming one of the first modern examples of a global music sensation. Jazz Planet collects essays that concentrate for the first time on jazz created outside the United States.
What happened when this phenomenon met with indigenous musical practices? What debates on cultural integrity did this "American" styling provoke in far-flung places? Did jazz's insistence on individual innovation and its posture as a music of the disadvantaged generate shakeups in national identity, aesthetic values, and public morality? Through new and previously published essays, Jazz Planet recounts the music's fascinating journeys to Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
What emerges is a concept of jazz as a harbinger of current globalization, a process that has engendered both hope for a more enlightened and tranquil future and resistance to the anticipated loss of national identity and sovereignty.
Essays in this collection describe the seldom-acknowledged contributions non-Americans have made to the art and explore the social and ideological crises jazz initiated around the globe. Was the rise of jazz in global prominence, they ask, simply a result of its inherent charm? Was it a vehicle for colonialism, Cold War politics, and emerging American hegemony?
Jazz Planet provokes readers to question the nationalistic bias of most jazz scholarship, and to expand the pantheon of great jazz artists to include innovative musicians who blazed independent paths.
E. Taylor Atkins is an associate professor of history at Northern Illinois University and is the author of Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan, awarded the John W. Hall Prize of the Association of Asian Studies in 2003 as the best book on Northeast Asia. His work has appeared in such periodicals as Japanese Studies and East-West Connections: Review of Asian Studies.