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Myth, Progress, and Motion in Jazz Practice with the Standard Repertoire

Mythe, progrès et mouvement dans la pratique jazz des standards du répertoire


Steve Tromans


I begin this paper by exploring two models of understanding music-making practice with the standard repertoire in jazz that I label the mythic and the progressive. I provide background detail to the mythic and the progressive in terms of, respectively, the narratives of Tragedy and the project of modernity, and discuss the work of expert musicians in their recordings of material from the jazz standard repertoire that, I argue, are exemplary in terms of each of these two models of understanding and practice. Further, I suggest a third model of understanding that I call the motive, and offer an overview of a research project of my own in support of the usefulness of this third approach to the practices of research and music-making in jazz, and to the emerging field of practice-as-research. In building my arguments, I draw on the writings of Jean-François Lyotard, Paul Rabinow, Albert Camus, and Brian Massumi, as well as recordings by Art Pepper, Derek Bailey, and myself.

Je commence cet article en explorant deux modèles d’approche de la pratique musicale des standards du répertoire en jazz que j’ai intitulés : le mythique et le progressif. J’explique ces notions de mythique et de progressif en termes de récits de la Tragédie et de projet de modernité en m’appuyant sur l’analyse du travail de musiciens reconnus qui ont enregistré ce répertoire de standards d’une façon, pour moi, exemplaire en ce qui concerne ces modèles de compréhension et de pratique.
Puis, je suggère un troisième modèle d’analyse que j’appelle le Motif en m’appuyant sur une démonstration issue de mon propre travail de recherche qui met en évidence l’utilité de cette troisième approche dans la pratique et la recherche dans le jazz et dans le champs émergent de la pratique comme recherche. Pour étayer mes arguments, je m’appuie sur les travaux de Jean-François Lyotard, Paul Rabinow, Albert Camus et Brian Massumi comme ceux de Art Pepper, Derek Bailey et moi-même.

Texte intégral

“Draw a straight line and follow it.”
La Monte Young [1]

“There is no quasi-divinity present here, only a disciplined human curiosity...
a movement that goes on inlassablement, tirelessly, steadfastly, persistently.”

Paul Rabinow [2]


This paper was composed in direct response to ongoing discussions with fellow musicians, friends, and colleagues as to the usefulness of jazz research to jazz practice. Of course, the contemporary trend in academia towards what is known as “practice-as-research” may help bridge the divide between the converted and the sceptical on the matter of the need for research in the arts – only time, and continued work, will bear the fruit of evidence. For my own part, I remain committed to the notion that the undertaking of research can invest the artist with surprising new perspectives on her/his working methods and creative drives, and that one’s own practice can provide research insights that are unavailable through more traditional modes of enquiry.

In what follows, below, I am concerned to explore two models of intelligibility by which humanity has thought to understand itself and its many practices in the years leading up to contemporary times (including, of course, artistic practices in jazz and otherwise) : the mythic and the progressive. In addition, by way of suggesting a fresh approach in such understandings, I investigate a third model : the motive. By way of threading these approaches through jazz practice, I focus my attention on the performance of the standard repertoire – the so-called “jazz standards” – including an instance of my own practice-as-research in jazz.

 The mythic

In the West, the best known archetypes of the mythic are those transcribed by the Ancient Greeks, such as the story of Oedipus. At the time of birth, his life’s destiny was foretold by the Oracle. It was this destiny (to murder his father and marry his mother) that Oedipus was fated to perform, and, in spite of having no wish to carry out either of these acts, it is the tragedy at the heart of the Tragedy that he does, unwittingly, accomplish both. The role of the human, in such mythic terms, is to enact the drama-games of the gods.

The empathy we feel towards the protagonists of mythical narrative, as they face up to the inevitability of their destinies, is (at least in contemporary times) born of our own concerns regarding our position/s among the various socio-cultural milieux we inherit, and operate within, from birth onwards. As highlighted by Jean-François Lyotard, the temporality of the mythic is grounded in the past, with those “individuals or collectives” charged with the enactment of that which has been foretold having, as their own, the un/fortunate task of playing out “identities already constituted [3]”. To model the world in terms of the mythic, then, is to consider our present lives as functioning, simply or otherwise, as further opportunities for replaying the (hi)stories of the past – though not necessarily anymore, of course, ordered according to the prescriptions of the divine. By the same token, the lives of future individuals/collectives to come and the events to which they will be subject – or, perhaps more accurately (given the lack of autonomy in the mythic model), future events and the lives constituted and unfolded therein – will inevitably, in time, provide fresh staging grounds for the same or similar performances.

Such a worldview obeys a cyclical narrative structure, and it is this mythic circularity, beyond abiding reference to any specific mythology in cultural and/or historical terms (aside from the instance of a Sisyphusean synthesis of the mythic and the progressive), that I am interested in exploring, in what follows, with regard to jazz practice.

 Jazz and the mythic cycle

Concerning the temporal circularity of the mythic model in jazz terms, then, consider the cyclical systems of performance with the standard repertoire. In common jazz practice, the individual/collective player/s will first state the theme (once or twice), improvise over the harmonic structure of that theme, and then restate the theme to close (one or two times, again). If the tune has an AABA “song form” structure [4], during the course of its performance, that formal structure will be looped again and again, allowing for a repeated, recurring harmonic backdrop over which the players’ solo lines and accompaniments are presented. Each gives the other its logical consistency : the harmonic structure provides raw material for soloists’ and accompanists’ music-making ; the music thus made gives flesh to the bones of that originary harmonic structure.

And here is a beautiful example : Cole Porter’s “What is This Thing Called Love ?” recorded by the Art Pepper Quartet, featuring Pepper on alto sax, Russ Freeman on piano, Ben Tucker on bass, and Chuck Flores on drums, back in the (mythically glorious) jazz heydays of the 1950s :

After a brief drum intro, the theme is stated, once through, leading into Pepper’s alto solo. Freeman’s piano solo follows, then a series of “eights” and “fours” : the leader’s sax and Flores’ drums exchange improvised phrases of, first, eight bars in length, and then four. The theme is stated once again, and a brief coda section closes the performance. Succinct, exemplary, and mythic in its narrative structure. The “story” of the performance is pre-destined : the tale told at the outset (the opening theme) is a constant presence by virtue of its repetition (in harmonic and structural form) throughout the improvisations. The extent to which the soloists act (or, indeed, wish to act) to break free of this enduring presence is of limited (or limiting) consequence.

Such inevitability, though, should not necessarily be view in negative terms. In the words of Albert Camus : “Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them [5]”. And the evidence of the bountiful history of exceptional performances of jazz standards we know and love is testament enough to this. As all artists are well aware, limitation can often be as constructive a liberation for the creative process as “freedom”, supposed or otherwise – regardless of how we may choose to define a “free” practice (and if indeed such a practice can exist).

However, liberating limitations and stellar performers and their performances aside, inevitable is as inevitable does, and the reappearance of the theme at the end of the standard performance renders the mythological process complete. That which is foretold at the outset, and runs a compositional thread through the music-making that follows, returns to pronounce conclusion on the drama thus unfolded (conc-lude : to end the play). As Lyotard has argued : “Myth allows a sequence of events to be placed in a constant framework in which the beginning and the end of a story form a sort of rhythm or rhyme” [6]. The rhythm/rhyme of common performance practice with the standard repertoire provides this easy allowance : the structural stability ; the cyclical reiteration of harmonic form ; the inevitable equation of opening and closing themes (= the balance of fate restored).

Mythical-cyclical narrative (although, as indicated above, not necessarily involving explicit reference to any given mythology) remains a dominant underlying principle in contemporary jazz practice, and certainly with regard to the jazz standards. However, it is not the only model in evidence, and it is to that which I am calling the progressive that I turn now our attentions.

 Jazz and the progressive

The label “progressive” was explicitly used by Stan Kenton in the mid-20th century, as indication of what was, at the time, the radical fusion of jazz and “serious” music in his Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra [7]. In the years before and since, jazz pundits and punters alike have often felt the need to apply the qualifier “progressive”, in order to signal either their praise, or their derision, in response to a given artist’s latest work in the field. However, regardless of the particular era in jazz which the reader may hold in preference, it is hardly a controversial move to suggest that jazz is an art-form that has repeatedly practised the progressive. Louis Armstrong inventing the role of the jazz soloist in the 1920s ; the studied hipness and musical-theoretical advances of the mid-century beboppers ; Sun Ra’s pioneering use of electric and electronic instruments ; Ornette Coleman et al and the freedom principle ; the creative trajectory of virtually the entire career of Miles Davis : these examples alone tell the compelling tale of a music and its musicians for whom the future is the place to be. For these prodigious talents, and those others like them, the best and only way to find the way to the future is to make it, in music.

Let us consider an example of the progressive tendency at work in a performance of a classic tune from the standard repertoire. Here is Derek Bailey’s startling treatment of “Stella by Starlight” by Victor Young, from his 2002 album, Ballads :

From the outset, the performance operates at a remove from the mythic/cyclic tendencies of much standard practice (as analysed, above). Bailey’s (progressive) approach is to play with fragments of the theme, working the material through his own signature improvisational techniques. Such techniques Bailey himself infamously labelled “non-idiomatic” [8], in a manner I would argue was perfectly in line with the progressive/modern attitude of setting one’s practices against those of the past and/or the prevailing tendencies of one’s more traditionally-minded contemporaries. In his treatment of “Stella by Starlight”, the semitone movements of the original melodic line are particularly prominent, and stand out in earnest amidst the Bailey-esque soundscapes. In addition, the progressive-minded listener is rewarded by the extraordinary juxtapositions Bailey crafts between his highly-personalised improvisational sound-palette, and the arpeggiated allusions he makes to the artistry of fellow guitarist Joe Pass – who himself reworked “Stella” on his Virtuoso album from 1973. On that landmark recording, Pass adopts a similar approach to Bailey, mixing improvised passages with fragments of the original, albeit following the piece’s thematic structure in linear fashion, rather than moving around the form in libertine fashion, as does Bailey, some thirty years later.

Interestingly, in his treatment of the raw materials of the theme of Young’s evergreen, Bailey is in line with Mervyn Cooke’s terms for a general understanding of jazz standard practice. In the glossary to his 1998 book Jazz, Cooke provided the following definition for the standard : “Any song melody forming part of the standard repertoire of themes used by jazz musicians as raw material on which to base their improvisations [9]”. Derek Bailey as exemplar of standard practice with the jazz repertoire ? Lest the reader be too hasty to judge otherwise, stranger realisations have come to light in the course of our historical investigations of human practices. At the moment of writing, it is a matter for time and hindsight.

 Progress and the project of modernity

Either way, as progressive as jazz has often been, it could certainly be accused of arriving a little late to the party, in terms of the more general move towards the progressive that has marked the history of human affairs since at least the time of the Renaissance. This is the project that tends to operate under the moniker of modernity. At its most basic, the term “modern” indicates a temporal relation – i.e., the relation between something from recent times (from the Latin modo) and something from earlier in history. In these terms alone, it follows that any new act in the world is modern, in relation to its forebears. However, the difference between the term “modern” and the project of modernity is grounded on far more than the mere fact that the things we do in the course of our lives can be chronologised in terms of past and present. When we inspect the guiding principles of modernity, it is the orientation toward the future that is paramount.

Modernity is driven by the grand narrative of progress : the idea that through a progressive attitude, by virtue of ever-accelerating advances in science and technology, humanity can be elevated to state after state of increased knowledge of both itself and the universe it inhabits. The desire for knowledge and mastery of one’s environment is, primarily, an instinct towards survival. Plainly, the more technological the entity, the better equipped it is to deal with the uncertainties and dangers presented by the unceasing complexification of Life. In the words of Lyotard : “Any material system is technological if it filters information useful to its survival [...] A human being isn’t different in nature from an object of this type [10]”. The desire for self-knowledge – the reflexive coming-of-age of the human agent, through which the subject of knowledge becomes also the object of knowledge – marks the break (or the attempt to break) from the model of the mythic.

Yet these freedoms come at a price, and, in spite of the potential long-term benefits to our species as a whole, it is we, as individuals, who bear that cost. It is easy to feel insignificant in one’s own life, in contemplation of the grandness of projects conceived on such an epic scale.

 The mythic in the modern

In face of these concerns, then, the modelling of human acts and actors in terms of the mythic does have its advantages, stemming from the mythic’s fateful condition of inevitability. When the primary acts of one’s life are foretold and unavoidable, a certain comfort may be obtained, however minimal, in face of the overwhelming uncertainties/indifferences of the universe at large. What other reason can there be for the devil’s bargains struck and clung to by those who remain committed – committed, but not necessarily happy – to replay the same games/lives (or song forms) again and again in the same way, for better or worse, rather than to chance breaking from the (mythic) cycle and attempt a move in another direction : forward into the future ? In the (ever forward-looking) view of the modernity project, despite the intelligible break with the mythic cycle, there remains a vestige of the ancient lure of comfortable predictability. The comfort comes from the knowledge that the day of emancipation will arrive, sometime in the future. The date of its coming cannot be prescribed (pre-written) in advance, as is the case with the oracular pronouncements of the mythical seer, but the freedom principle remains a future definite. Although, of course, it may not be your or my destiny, dear artist...

Without casting dispersion on the hopes of actualising our maximum potential as artists (and, indeed, as humans in the ideal of ideal society), it would seem that modernity betrays a closer relation to the mythic than many of its progressives would perhaps be willing to accept. Work and work again, achieve more and better. The next project, the next album, the next gig is what counts more than the last. Sempre avanti. This is the work of the artist, and the working of new art. The desire to create, again and anew, is a thing driven, and not always in the best interests of its creator. Lyotard : “Such a desire – the desire for knowledge – will never reach satisfaction ; it only takes effect, and this taking effect, far from fulfilling it, only feeds new requirements [11]”. Making new art also takes something out of the artist, and that loss never finds redemption.

 The motive and Sisyphus

In light of my desire to explore a third path in alternative to the ancient-mythic and the modern-progressive, I would propose a tireless movement of artistic act and loss, loss and act, that, while being neither exclusively progressive nor mythic, draws on something of each. Such a movement is not necessarily a move forward to greater levels of freedom (as in the ideal of the progressive), nor is it a resignation to the narrative cycles of the mythic. It is, instead, a function of that which I am here calling the motive. The motive : a putting in motion of a thing, an idea, an artistic practice... of a life, even. The motive concerns itself with that which is presently at hand, looking neither too far ahead, nor before. In exploring this notion, I want to introduce (perhaps surprisingly, to the reader) the mythical figure of Sisyphus. The endless torment of the god-cursed mover of stone can, I would argue, be modelled in terms of both the mythic and the progressive, which makes the story of particular interest to my concern to find a third path through these other two for our contemporary times and practices.

In brief : For various reasons (stealing their secrets ; putting Death in chains), Sisyphus is condemned by the gods to lift a huge rock up the side of a mountain. Each time, as the summit is accomplished (eventually, through much toil), the rock falls back to the foot of the mountain. It is Sisyphus’ punishment to traipse down from his hard-won achievement to once again repeat his task, ad infinitum. At once, this tale is both Tragic and progressive. His is a Tragic lot, in that it describes the helpless plight of a human being caught in a game of the gods : to repeatedly enact a task pronounced his own, again and again, on order of a past judgment as to his (supposedly) terrible crimes. On the other hand, it is progressive, in that Sisyphus realises his goal each time. His future-oriented project – to carry the rock up the slope to its apex – is brought to completion through his determined act : in success, he delivers his burden to the mountain-top. What other projects of modernity are able to claim fulfilment in such a definite manner, one may wonder ?

So it is here, somewhere between the mythic past and the progressive future, that we find our new perspective on the labours of the artist. In the realisation of the absence of the meritocratic in the societal, in the refusal to cry despair in the faces of both the cyclical-Tragic and the techno-scientific complexification of the inhuman (or post-human ?), we discover, instead, that “motion” which Paul Rabinow has recently called “a disciplined human curiosity... a movement that goes on inlassablement, tirelessly, steadfastly, persistently [12]”. It is a motion after the manner of Sisyphus : not the inevitability of his mythic fate, nor in the progression of his ascent to the heights, but in the singular, bolder-to-bolder, putting in motion of the actions of the man himself. As in the words of the composer, La Monte Young, quoted at the head of this paper : “Draw a straight line and follow it [13]”. Not to follow it to utopia, or to wherever – just to follow it. What better career advice for the artist, in light (or dark) or all may await in a life led through one’s art ?

 Practice-as-research and artistic motive

That problems of research and art (and both) can be put in motion is the easy part. After all, anyone can make a start on a project, artistic or otherwise. To pursue that project, however, to the ends of one’s means and/or those of one’s existence is more rarefied a professional undertaking. As Rabinow warns : “Such movement is easy to initiate and hard to master [14]”. But that which in academia is labelled under the term “practice-as-research” would appear, to this author’s eye, to qualify as the method most adequate to the project of keeping in motion the kind of tireless, disciplined curiosity that Rabinow advocates.

Such a disciplined undertaking (to borrow Rabinow’s terms) operates “through different scales and different subject positions [15]”. In contrast to more traditional research convention (the contrived anonymity – the writing out of the account, even – of the author, the generalisation of the particular leading to the abstraction of the theoretical), practitioner-researchers in the arts are in a position to ground their enquiries in the singular conditions of their own artistic acts, and to argue for the accounting of these acts to be considered in terms of the exemplary. Brian Massumi : “An example is neither general (as is a system of concepts) nor particular (as is the material to which a system is applied). It is singular ... a belonging to itself that is simultaneously an extendibility to everything else with which it might be connected [16]”. In the case of the practising jazz musician, her or his singular example is thus extendible to the practices of others in the profession, by virtue of being connected, each to each, through the complex interrelations that make up the disciplinary field/s in which s/he operates, as artists.

And so it is for reasons of exemplification that I conclude this paper with an instance of my own recent jazz research practice. This instance should most certainly not be considered in hierarchical relation to the Art Pepper and Derek Bailey, above. To do so would be to fall back into the model of the progressive, where all that comes before is inferior, and all that is to come is that matters, in terms of the perfection of the human/artistic ideal. Neither should it be compared to the (predominant) mythical modelling of standard practice with the core repertoire in jazz. There are no familiar head/solo/head (et al) formulae to lock into, here – for better or for worse. There is, in their place, the putting into motion of an act of artistic research, and the disciplined pursuit of the questions driving that research, through the methods of music-making singular to the artist in question. With these notes in place, one would hope that, in the words of John Cage, “Our ears are now in excellent condition” to receive the music-making that follows, below [17].

 “All the Things You Are” : A setting-in-motion of practice-as-research in jazz

In January 2014, as part of a jazz-research seminar at the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music (UK), I gave a solo-piano performance of the well-known jazz standard “All the Things You Are”. Composed by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II in the late 1930s, this piece has received a significant amount of attention from a wide range of jazz practitioners, and remains one of the more frequently performed and recorded jazz standards, over seven decades since its first publication [18]. My experiment in practice-as-research was prompted by the question of how to approach the act of performing well-known standards in a manner other than the mythic or the progressive models of jazz practice, exclusively. Or, put differently : how to take influence from an awareness of the operation of each of these models in standard performance practice, in order to motivate a new instance of music-making in jazz.

My approach to undertaking the experiment was to improvise with the formal structure of the piece. In other words, I took the “lead sheet” [19] chart of “All The Things You Are” as “raw material” (to use Cooke’s terms, as quoted above) for an improvisation. In this manner, I drew on the (progressive) way in which Derek Bailey performed “Stella by Starlight”, taking phrases and fragments of the theme and making new music with them. However, my own performance is not as progressive as Bailey’s : where Bailey departs often from the familiar lines and harmonies of “Stella by Starlight” in pursuit of his signature free-improvising practices, I remain within more familiar territory with regard to the melodic and harmonic material presented on the lead sheet chart. Neither is my performance suited to modelling in mythic terms : there is no rote cycling of a pre-given formal structure as vehicle for my improvisation. Yet major aspects of the formal structure and melodic/harmonic material of “All the Things You Are” are audibly present in my performance – indeed, these were, as indicated above, the primary materials with which I crafted my improvisation.

At this point in this writing, it would be constructive for the reader to listen to a recording of the performance from January 2014 :

The improvisation begins with material from the “middle-eight” [20] of the piece (the B section), on which I dwell for quite some time (a little over three minutes – approximately one-third of the total performance time), and return to repeatedly : just prior to the five-minute mark, and in the closing minute-and-a-half of the piece. The remaining music-making is derived from melodic/harmonic material from the other sections of the formal structure, which, again, is re-worked in performance for longer than is typical in a standard rendition. Listen, for instance, to the first indication of material from the A sections of the piece, which enters early into the third minute and lasts for close to two minutes ; also, to my return to this material just after the six-and-a-half-minute mark.

The choice, placement, and development of these temporal periods in which I worked with material from these structural sections unfolded in the act of performance itself, since, as noted above, this was an improvisation, not the performance of a pre-written arrangement. The initial motivation for my music-making was to improvise with material from the formal structure of the piece – nothing more, but also nothing less. This process set in motion an improvisation with a well-known standard that departed from more typical jazz practice with the standard repertoire, yet used material from the formal structure of that standard to craft the performance that ensued. The experiment to explore a model of practice with the jazz standards other than that of the progressive or the mythic led to a process of music-making in performance that drew on aspects of each of these, while at the same time operating in difference to them. Where there might have been, in accordance with the mythic model, a (potentially endless) cycling of the 36-bar formal structure of “All the Things You Are”, there was none. Where there might have been a radical (progressive) departure from almost any vestiges of common performance practice with the piece, as in the recording of Derek Bailey’s from 2002, there was a commitment to remaining identifiable with its melodic/harmonic material. Identifiable, that is, but not identical – and this is the mark of what I am calling, in this paper, the motive model of jazz practice, or a setting-in-motion of practice-as-research in jazz.


In this paper, I have examined two major models of understanding human practices, including those of jazz : the mythic, and the progressive. I have indicated examples of the operation of each in the recording output of two expert improvisers, Art Pepper and Derek Bailey, and I have provided an overview of a practice-as-research experiment by the author, investigating the possibility of an alternative model of jazz practice to the mythic and the progressive. This alternative model I have called the motive, and am here presenting it as a conceptual tool and a creative impetus : a motivator for our contemporary times – for practitioners, for researchers, and for the newly-emerging breed of practitioner-researchers. A jazz practice triggered by the setting-in-motion of research questions may provide novel understandings of the role and function of the jazz musician and her/his music-making : a role/function neither primarily mythic nor modern, yet explicitly aware of its historical perspective in relation to each, and the potential for a new movement in the contemporary practice of both jazz and research.


Steve Tromans is a pianist and composer working in the interrelated fields of jazz and improvised music. He has released a total of 18 albums to date, given in the region of 6,000 performances in the UK, Europe, and internationally, and composed over 100 works. In recent years he has been undertaking philosophical research via the modes of music performance in jazz and improvising music, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Birmingham City University. In 2014, he received publication in Artistic Experimentation in Music : An Anthology (Leuven, Leuven Press), and has had articles printed in The Swedish Journal of Musicology, and Performance Research. For further information on Tromans’ various music-making projects, visit : http://www.steve-tromans.co.uk.


[1These words form the performance instructions of La Monte Young’s Composition 1960 # 10, as quoted in Nyman, 1999, p. 83.

[2Rabinow, 2003, p. 135.

[3Lyotard, 1993, pp. 67-68.

[4Examples of AABA song form in the jazz standards include Cole Porter’s “What is this Thing called Love ?”, Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul”, Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train”, and Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight”. There are many other examples, and this thematic structure is as prevalent as the 12-bar blues in the set of pieces that make up the body of the standard repertoire in jazz.

[5Camus, 2013, p. 87.

[6Lyotard, 1993, p. 67.

[7See Cooke, 1998, p. 95 and p. 196.

[8See Bailey, 1992.

[9Cooke, 1998, p. 196, emphasis added.

[10Lyotard, 1993, p. 12.

[11Lyotard, 2011, p. 213.

[12Rabinow, 2003, p. 135.

[13Quoted in Nyman, 1999, p. 83.

[14Rabinow, 2003, p. 136.

[15Rabinow, 2003, p. 135.

[16Massumi, 2002, pp. 17-18.

[17This quote comes from a “manifesto of music”, written by Cage in 1952, part of which reads thus : “nothing is accomplished by writing a piece of music / nothing is accomplished by hearing a piece of music / nothing is accomplished by playing a piece of music ... our ears are now in excellent condition” (Cage, 1978, p. xii). In the terms I am here exploring, I would suggest Cage’s words echo the presentiments of a putting in motion of artistic endeavour in line with neither the progressive nor mythic, but with the singular motive.

[18“All the Things You Are” ranks second place in the listings of the most commonly recorded jazz standards on the website http://www.jazzstandards.com/compositions/index.htm (accessed 4 December 2013).

[19A lead sheet is, typically, a basic melody-plus-chord symbols arrangement of a piece of music. The best-known and most widely circulated collection of lead sheets in jazz can be found in The Real Book and its variants.

[20The “middle eight” is jazz slang for the B section of an AABA song-form structure. In the case of “All the Things You Are”, the theme is 36 bars long, and is divided into two A sections (8 bars each), a B section (8 bars), and a closing 12-bar A section.


Bailey, Derek, Improvisation : Its Nature and Practice in Music, rev. Ed., London, Da Capo, 1992.

Cage, John, Silence : Lectures and Writings, London, Marion Boyars, 1978.

Camus, Albert, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, trans. Justin O’Brien, London, Penguin Classics, 2013.

Cooke, Mervyn, Jazz, London, Thames and Hudson, 1998.

Lyotard, Jean-François, The Inhuman : Reflections on Time, trans. Geffrey Bennnington and Rachel Bowlby, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1993.

Lyotard, Jean-François, Discourse, Figure, trans. Anthony Hudek and Mary Lydon. Minneapolis, MN, University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Massumi, Brian, Parables for the Virtual : Movement, Affect, Sensation, Durham, Duke University Press, 2002.

Nyman, Michael, Experimental Music : Cage and Beyond, 2nd Ed, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Rabinow, Paul, Anthropos Today : Reflections on Modern Equipment, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2003.

Pour citer l'article

Steve Tromans : "Myth, Progress, and Motion in Jazz Practice with the Standard Repertoire ", in Epistrophy, 01, 2015 , Jazz et Modernité / Jazz and Modernity . - ISSN : 2431-1235 - URL: http://www.epistrophy.fr/myth-progress-and-motion-in-jazz.html // Mise en ligne le 11 octobre 2015 - Consulté le 23 mars 2017

01, 2015


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