The story of jazz has often been upheld in terms of cultural triumph, as a transcendent response to African-American struggle. Jazz is also presented as a story of succession, a chain of creative genius passing from one "Great Man" to the next. These are persuasive frameworks that define the artform by a canon and a fixed set of values, inscribing a kind of perimeter.
In this multimedia presentation, which draws from the first chapter of Playing Changes: Jazz For the New Century (Pantheon, 2018), Chinen will address the rise of a conservation agenda in the jazz culture of the 1970s and '80s, and the stubbornly powerful trope of a jazz messiah, which now exists in a different form.
Nate Chinen was born in Honolulu, to a musical family: he grew up around the local Musicians Union, as his parents were popular nightclub entertainers. He began writing about jazz in 1996 for the Philadelphia City Paper, and has now authored content for several national music publications, including DownBeat, Blender and Vibe. Chinen spent about 12 years working as a jazz and pop critic for The New York Times and wrote monthly columns for JazzTimes. He is a 10-time winner of the Helen Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association. The same organization presented him with its award for Best Book About Jazz, for his work on Myself Among Others, the autobiography of impresario George Wein. Chinen is currently working as director of editorial content at WBGO, while still closely engaging with programs like Jazz Night in America, The Checkout and a range of jazz programming on NPR.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Music, the Corliss Lamont Lectureship for a Peaceful World and the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series at Amherst. This event is free and open to the public.
For more music department events, see our department calendar at https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/music/events.
Photo by Michael Lionstar