Jazz endings, aesthetic discourse, and musical publics

Dueck, Byron (2013). Jazz endings, aesthetic discourse, and musical publics. Black Music Research Journal, 33(1) pp. 91–115.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5406/blacmusiresej.33.1.0091

URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/blacmusiresej....


The title above contains a melodic fragment from the closing bars of Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A Train". It is often called the "Ellington ending" after the composer and musician for whom the piece became a signature tune. Despite its close motivic relationship to the rest of the piece, it long ago began circulating on its own as a musical tag, and musicians still employ it in a range of contexts to signal musical closure. There are many such concluding patterns, and in the account that follows I will examine how one group of young instrumentalists mobilizes some of them (including the Ellington ending) while collectively arranging a tune. In part, then, this article explores an instance of musical bricolage, as musicians experiment with an array of formulas and come to an agreement regarding how they will establish musical closure with them.

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