Jazz Research Journal, Vol 6, No 2 (2012)

Way out East: cowboys and pioneer women on Berlin's jazz frontier

William Kirk Bares
Issued Date: 19 Dec 2013


Making sense of Europe’s ascendancy in the jazz world entails connecting and contrasting the ways American and European jazz musicians and communities use modalities of race, class, age, gender, sexuality and regional identity to assert proximity and distance within local, national and international contexts. This article argues that the ‘frontier’—conceptualized as both an actual place distinguished by a geographical and cultural distance from the American mainstream, and also as a constellation of ideas reconfigured by jazz musicians in the process of carving out their own self-reliant musical identities—offers one fruitful meeting-point for comparison. Riffing on historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential frontier thesis (1920) that cast the Western frontier as the quintessential site of Americanization, the broad issue considered is how the frontier, like jazz, can be appropriated and recoded as a new site of Europeanization by jazz musicians in Berlin.

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DOI: 10.1558/jazz.v6i2.170


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