Moving to Higher Ground: The Changing Discourse of European Jazz 1960-1980

  • Tony Whyton


The 2014 conference ‘Growing Up: Jazz between 1960 and 1980' in Lucerne provided a stimulating environment for the examination of European identity in jazz, and offered several fascinating insights into the musical landscape and changing cultural discourses of jazz during this period in history. This article builds on the overarching theme of the Conference by examining what the concept of ‘growing up' means for jazz within this time period. I explore ways in which the concept itself can contain certain assumptions about the maturing of an art form and the progress of history, and encourage a way of thinking about jazz's place in Europe that is problematic. Whilst it is important to consider the historical development of music and its changing reception through time, the concept of growing up reinforces a number of assumptions about art music and its place in European culture; it has the ability to shape how we view the movement of music and culture, what social and cultural changes might have occurred during the period we're looking at, and promotes a particular view of European jazz and its relationship both to the American jazz tradition and popular culture more broadly.

Author Biography

Tony Whyton
Tony Whyton is Professor of Jazz Studies at Birmingham City University. His critically acclaimed books Jazz Icons: Heroes, Myths and the Jazz Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Beyond A Love Supreme: John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album (Oxford University Press, 2013) have sought to develop cross-disciplinary methods of musical enquiry. Whyton continues to work as co-editor of the Jazz Research Journal (Equinox) and, in 2014, he founded the new Routledge series ‘Transnational Studies in Jazz' alongside Nicholas Gebhardt. Gebhardt and Whyton also co-edited The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music (Routledge) in 2015, a collection that explores the ways in which musician-led collectives offer a powerful model for rethinking jazz practices in the post-war period. Whyton is currently the project leader for the transnational research project Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals
How to Cite
Whyton, T. (2017). Moving to Higher Ground: The Changing Discourse of European Jazz 1960-1980. European Journal of Musicology, 16(1), 13–22.