Peter S. Elsdon
This chapter discusses the kinds of sources that jazz scholars have used when interrogating the creative process. It examines the uses of recordings and notational sources, and considers the different forms and functions they take and the possibilities they offer. It suggests that understandings of the creative process in jazz can be limited if a traditional end-directed philological model is employed. Instead, it explores the implications of thinking about the creative process in terms of mediation and distributed creativity, drawing particularly on the work of Georgina Born and Tim Ingold. An extended case study examines “In a Silent Way,” composed by Joe Zawinul, as an example that brings these different issues to the forefront.
New Orleans is ideal to study music as a form of labor, because live musical performance is critical to its overall economic infrastructure. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the reliance on the return of displaced culture bearers to facilitate recovery exposed the inner workings of the cultural economy and highlighted long-standing patterns of exploitation that are endemic to black musicians, the culture industry, and global capitalism. This case study, based on years of ethnographic study among black brass band musicians in New Orleans, offers a view of broader issues of heritage tourism, commodification and authenticity, festivalization and exhibition, racial appropriation, and the value of economic and social capital. The author’s observation of musicians provides a foundation for reevaluating live musical performance as a form of labor, extending a large body of literature on the political economy of music with emphasis on the monetary economy of musicians.