“Slightly Left of Center”

Daniel Goldmark

in Jazz/Not Jazz

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780520271036
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951358 | DOI:
“Slightly Left of Center”

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This chapter examines the idea of genre as it applies to jazz by focusing on the output of Atlantic Records' jazz division. Under the stewardship of two men, Nesuhi Ertegun and Joel Dorn, Atlantic Jazz came to signify not a particular approach, but rather a wide variety of artists, styles, and sounds. After tracing a general a history of Atlantic's jazz output from the 1940s to the 1970s, the essay focuses on Rufus Harley. Signed to the label by Joel Dorn, Harley recorded four albums for Atlantic in the 1960s, playing saxophone, flute, and bagpipes, although it was on the last of these that he was best known. While few critics saw Harley as little more than a gimmick, his career can be seen as emblematic as the ways that Atlantic's jazz defies easy categorization; further examination of Atlantic wind players Rahsaan Ronald Kirk and Yusef Lateef amplify this discussion. The chapter ends by questioning the current work on jazz and genre and positing some possible new paths for research.

Keywords: jazz; Atlantic Records; Nesuhi Ertegun; Joel Dorn; Rufus Harley; Rahsaan Roland Kirk; Yusef Lateef; music and genre; bagpipes

Chapter.  9701 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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