About the Book
Theatrical Jazz is the first full-length study of an artistic form that draws on principles of the ensemble, the break, and the bridge. Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Àse, and the Power of the Present Moment is a study of the use of jazz aesthetics in theatre as created by major practitioners of the form, giving particular attention to three innovative artists—Laurie Carlos, Daniel Alexander Jones, and Sharon Bridgforth. The book examines how artists are made, and how artists make art. In charting their overlapping artistic genealogies, the book also discusses the work of veteran artists Aishah Rahman, Robbie McCauley, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange, Erik Ehn, and the next generation of theatrical jazz innovators— Grisha Coleman, Walter Kitundu, Florinda Bryant, and Zell Miller III. Using autocritography as a primary methodology, the author draws on her role as a performer, collaborator, audience/witness and dramaturg in theatrical jazz, and her experiences with Yoruba spiritual traditions to excavate the layers and nuances of this performance form. Collage, repetition, and the juxtaposition of key artifacts are central to the book’s design. Paintings, production photographs and ephemera, color keys, discographies of the artists’ musical influences, and recipes for the community-sustaining meals so critical to their work offer a mélange of features that reflect the improvisatory and incorporative nature of jazz itself.