Jazz is one of the most influential American art forms of our times. It shapes our ideas about musical virtuosity, human action and new forms of social expression. In Going for Jazz, Nicholas Gebhardt shows how the study of jazz can offer profound insights into American historical consciousness. Focusing on the lives of three major saxophonists—Sidney Bechet, Charlie Parker, and Ornette Coleman—Gebhardt demonstrates how changing forms of state power and ideology framed and directed their work.
Weaving together a range of seemingly disparate topics, from Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier thesis to the invention of bebop, from Jean Baudrillard's Seduction to the Cold War atomic regime, Gebhardt addresses the meaning and value of jazz in the political economy of American society. In Going for Jazz, jazz musicians assume dynamic and dramatic social positions that demand a more conspicuous place for music in our understanding of the social world.