Check out my article on “Jazz” in the newly released book Keywords in Remix Studies (2017). I explore the history of the turntable in jazz culture and compare it to the history of the turntable in DJ-culture. Long before DJs learned to create break beaks, jazz musicians would lift the needles of turntables while listening to records in order to slow down and repeat phrases they wanted to imitate. Jazz musicians of the 1920s used turntables as tools for copying sound. Today’s jazz musicians have a number of technologies like the Amazing Slow Downer that have replaced the turntable. An exciting new direction in jazz-remix culture is the work of Christian Scott Adunde whose album Stretch Music (2015) has redefined the concept of an “album.” Stretch Music and its accompanying app give the listener/user the ability to mute whichever instrument they want, speed up or slow down tracks without pitch alteration, and more. Scott Atunde’s work demonstrates the fruitful exchange between jazz and remix culture.
In a related piece of writing for the jazz magazine The Note I explore remix-jazz culture from a more personal point of view. I was raised in Kansas City by hippies who were passionate amateur musicians. Weekly Friday nights jams were a staple of my childhood. We didn’t have living room furniture; we had a Hammond B-3, multiple acoustic pianos, a drum kit or two, a rack of guitars, trombones and tubas, and a slew of other instruments. Everybody played. Cousins, uncles and aunts, and friends from all over. What brought everyone together was the listening party. My father would put on whatever new album he’d scored, and everyone would listen and try to play along. One cut would be on repeat for five or six or seven times, until the band could get the changes. By the end of the night, with any luck, a new tune had been added to our repertoire. These weekly listening parties had a profound effect on me as a musician, artist, and human.