Vol 1 No 2 (2011)

Who Put the “I” in Jazz? Understanding the Cultural Frontiers of Jazz Music

Colin Scheyen
Athabasca University
Published March 27, 2011


The purpose of this paper is to identify the binary oppositions that have played key roles in shaping Jazz music. These include black/white, individualism/collectivism, oral/written traditions, and commodification/tradition. By identifying these dichotomies as important points of cultural intersection, this paper aims to demonstrate that jazz music has remained a relevant art form because it has evolved from discords that have been constantly at odds with one another, and have forced one another to move into new directions. This paper intends to demonstrate that jazz music cannot be narrowly defined as the product of one culture, but rather is the product of cultural hybridity.