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Back to the Future: 2008 in Gigs

Tradition and innovation have never really been at odds in jazz, despite whatever the history books say. More often, the two forces have been deeply entwined, redefining each other in a vital and perpetual exchange.

Trombonist and composer George Lewis reminded us of that balance this year with the landmark publication of A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (Univ. of Chicago). It seems likely that we’ll see another challenge to the old vs. new idea when Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux introduce their textbook Jazz (W.W. Norton), next spring. (DeVeaux’s penetrating work on bebop crucially stresses continuity over disruption; Giddins once titled an essay collection “Rhythm-a-ning: Jazz Tradition and Innovation.”)

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