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5John Gennari, Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 374.
6following four chapters address this research question in diverse areas: jazz criticism (Chapter 1); performance venues and audience response (Chapter 2); composition and performance (Chapter 3); and jazz education (Chapter 4). The wide range of topics covered, combined with the focus on British jazz, offers a more subtle perspective on the presence or rejection of aspects of classical music in jazz than the search for cultural legitimisation expressed by Taylor and Marsalis. My focus on British jazz casts a different light on the nuances of the relationship between jazz and classical music. The reasons for this focus are three-fold, and have been influenced by: my own experiences as a jazz musician; my involvement in the jazz culture of Britain as a life-long fan of the music; and my recent discovery of and engagement with an exciting group of jazz scholars within the British academic community. I have already discussed the comments and questions that arose when performing as both a classical and jazz saxophonist. However, my immersion in the British jazz world as a performer overlapped with my experiences as a fan. It is possible to hear the upper echelon of British jazz musicians, as well as the American jazz greats, at venues as diverse as Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London, and the Brecon Jazz Festival in mid-Wales. Regularly attending jazz performances has been both an inspiration and a reward for this study. My research also overlaps with my experiences as a fan, but I am aware of the academic limitations of the ‘fan mentality’ (to adopt John Covach’s term as used in relation to rock music), and I aim to maintain an objective and neutral tone
7throughout.6Finally, in recent years, a group of British jazz scholars has emerged (George McKay, Catherine Parsonage, Alan Stanbridge, Tony Whyton and others). These scholars are both re-evaluating the history and historiography of jazz in the United States, and engaging with the origins and influences of British and European jazz performance. While these scholars and their interactions are suggesting new ways of thinking and writing about jazz history, little scholarship has been published on British jazz aside from Catherine Parsonage’s seminal research into the earliest performances and developments in British jazz and Hilary Moore’s exploration of British jazz and related social topics in the twentieth century.7This dissertation contributes to this emerging field by suggesting a new narrative for the understanding of jazz history, by focussing on the influences of classical music, and by considering American and British developments in tandem. My research addresses the temporal gap between Parsonage’s timeframe (1880–1935) and research into contemporary jazz. In each chapter I give contextual background to the first decades of jazz in Britain, but use the 1950s as a pivotal decade in jazz history from which point I introduce original ethnographic material. This decade is within living memory for some jazz musicians, and is