Tag Archives: herbie hancock

Afro-Futurism and the Young Lions

As we head towards the 1980s and the ways that the Young Lions attempted to reestablish the jazz tradition by skipping over the Avant-Garde, fusion, and other styles that flourished in the late 1960s and 1970s, I thought it might be useful to also point to the ways that they also transformed the aesthetic choices associated with Afro-Futurism. As we have discussed, Afro-Futurism isn’t limited to jazz. As scholarship has shown over the last 10 years, it has only expanded (see the special issue of the Journal for the Society of American Music as well as a special issue of Social Text, both edited by professors currently at Columbia University). More recently, Ken McLeod published an article on Afro-Futurism and music of the 1970s.

After the 1970s, however, the aesthetics of Afro-Futurism are replaced by other priorities. Some can locate the remains of the flamboyant excesses of ’70s Afro-Futurism in the video for Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” (1983) as plain old futurism, with its emphasis on robotics at the expense of showing living people.

In contrast, many of the Young Lions sought to redefine jazz as the music of sophistication. Wynton Marsalis, for example, spent much of the 1980s and ’90s recording classical albums.

He also won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for his jazz oratorio, Blood on the Fields.

Other musicians, such as Wynton’s brother, Branford, embraced ’80s rock and hip-hop aesthetics through their collaborations with mainstream pop acts. As you can hear, those aesthetics are rather distant from the energy that permeates much of the fusion music of the 1970s. Where have all of the synthesizers gone?


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Storms and Hurricanes

New College will be closed on Monday due to Isaac’s approach. In honor of the impending weather, I have decided to post a few of my favorite jazz recordings about storms, rain, and hurricanes.

Lena Horne, “Stormy Weather” (1943)

This song was Lena Horne’s signature song for decades.

Elis Regina & Tom Jobim, “Águas de Março [Waters of March]” (1974)

Someone in mini-classes asked if we are covering any bossa nova song. Yes, we are indeed, although they will only be covered for one day. Thus, I take advantage of blog posts to expose you to more.

Elis Regina and Antônio Carlos Jobim recorded this song in Los Angeles. It continues to be one of the more celebrated of his ouvre, a full 15 years after the bossa nova trend began.

Herbie Hancock / VSOP “Eye of the Hurricane” (1986)

This song was originally on Hancock’s Maiden Voyage (1965), a post-bop album we’ll discuss in the second half of the class.

What are your favorite weather-related jazz songs?



Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, “Hurricane Camile” (1990)

I searched high and low for this recording on YouTube, Grooveshark, and SoundCloud. It turns out that Béla Fleck’s tune is more popular on YouTube as an arrangement for H.S. drum-lines.

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