Towards a spatial reconsideration of 'West Coast' and 'East Coast' in jazz: Exploring Hip Hop parallels and notions of the local

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Abstract

West Coast jazz practices following World War II have often been positioned as diametrically opposed to jazz practices in New York and other Eastern cities. In comparison to the dominant New York scene, the “West Coast sound” has routinely been dismissed as being too laid back, too informed by Western art music, too unswinging, and, more often than not, too white. Yet, it seems rather obvious that sociocultural and environmental factors unique to California would have had an affective impact upon musicians and musical expression in the region; an attitude frequently reflected in discussions of popular music. In an exploration of the West Coast sound that attempts to reach beyond considerations of racial authenticity, this paper draws attention to the similar ways in which notions of authenticity and differences in sound and expression in the debate surrounding East Coast versus West Coast hip hop (1980s-1990s) can be seen to mirror those surrounding the West Coast/East Coast jazz divide some 40 years earlier, and suggests that the aesthetic and regional concerns expressed by the hip hop community may provide a means to reconsider and reassess the jazz sounds emerging from California in the 1940s–1950s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-140
JournalJazz Perspectives
Volume10
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jan 2018

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