Jazz Music and Social Change

UNIV 1784, section 13: Freshman Honors Seminar
Jazz Music and Social Change

Fall 2018 semester
Monday/Wednesday 9:05AM – 9:55AM (facilitator day: Mon., instructor day: Wed.)
classroom: BOUS A105
1 Credit

Professor: Earl MacDonald; earl.macdonald@uconn.edu (please allow 24-48 hours for a response to emails)
Office: MUSB 207
Office hours: Mondays 10 – 11a.m., Wednesdays 12:15 – 1:15 p.m., and by appointment

Facilitators: Emily Krier: emily.krier@uconn.edu, Shane O’Hare: shane.o’hare@uconn.edu


Freshman Honors Seminar is an introductory course designed to acquaint freshmen honors students to the university at large through a subject-based course. Our subject is jazz music and social change.

Jazz musicians, through their music, have played an important role in promoting racial equality, shaping political consciousness, encouraging political activity, and strengthening the scope of social activism in America. An appreciation and understanding of jazz music will be fostered as we examine and discuss specific recordings and the sociopolitical circumstances which inspired these artistic statements.

Secondarily, students will engage in creative collaboration with Professor MacDonald, as he composes, and ultimately presents a new work of music in response to a social issue of our time, Paradox in Political Tribalism. This will be accomplished through researching and discussing the selected topic, and creating draft “slides” which could be incorporated into a multimedia, visual presentation correlating with the music.


Assignments and Grading:

  • Individual Lecture Presentations – 15%
  • Graphically Depicted “Slides” & bibliography – 20%
  • Written topical reflections/responses (4) – 20%
  • Class Participation – 25%
    (comprising: regular attendance on Mondays and Wednesdays, consistent engagement in classroom discussions, preparedness, promptness, and accomplishing the learning objectives articulated in the facilitators’ syllabus)
  • Fred Hersch concert (Oct. 5 @ von der Mehden recital hall) attendance and review – 10%
  • Resumé requirement – 10%

Wed., Aug. 29:

Wed., Sept. 5:

  • Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit
  • student presentation topics finalized

Wed., Sept. 12:

Wed., Sept. 19:

Wed., Sept. 26:

Wed., Oct. 3:

Friday, Oct. 5:   Fred Hersch concert – von der Mehden Recital Hall. 8 PM.

Wed., Oct. 10:

Wed., Oct. 17:

Wed., Oct. 24:

Wed., Oct. 31:

Wed., Nov. 7:

Wed., Nov. 14:

Wed., Nov. 21: Thanksgiving break

Wed., Nov. 28:

Wed., Dec. 5:

  • TBA

* The above schedule and content is somewhat fluid and subject to change at the instructor’s discretion.


Examples of music which may be discussed [an evolving list, in no particular order]:

  • Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit
  • Charle Mingus: Fables of Faubus, Meditations on Integration, Prayer for Passive Resistance, Remember Rockefeller at Attica, Free Cell Block F ‘Tis Nazi USA
  • John Coltrane: Alabama, Reverend King (on Cosmic Music)
  • Herbie Hancock: The Prisoner (album)
  • Fred Hersch: Out Someplace
  • Max Roach: We Insist! (Freedom Now Suite)
  • Duke Ellington: Black, Brown and Beige, Black and Tan Fantasy
  • Max Roach: Members Don’t Git Weary, Garvey’s Ghost
  • Sonny Rollins: Freedom Suite
  • Oliver Nelson: Afro/American Sketches Suite
  • Oscar Brown Jr: Baby Brown, 40 Acres and a Mule
  • Bob Brookmeyer: American Tragedy
  • Jim McNeely: We Will Not Be Silenced
  • Fats Waller: (What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue [also Louis Armstrong renditions]
  • Dr. Billy Taylor: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
  • Lee Morgan: Mr. Kenyatta, Angela by Jimmy Merritt, Search for the New Land (and Doug and Jean Carn’s version)
  • Art Blakey: The Freedom Rider, The Core (by Freddie Hubbard)
  • Ambrose Akinmusire: Rollcall For Those Absent
  • Ryan Keberle and Catharsis: Find the Common Shine the Light
  • Freddie Hubbard: Sing Me A Song of Songmy, The Core (on Blakey’s Free for All)
  • Tom Varner: Neutron Bomb Shuffle
  • Grant Green: The Selma March
  • Les McCann: Compared To What
  • John Benson Brooks – Alabama Concerto
  • Charlie Haden and the Liberation Orchestra: Not In Our Name, and material composed by Carla Bley
  • Archie Shepp: Scag, Poem for Malcolm, Attica Blues
  • Noah Baerman: Soul Force (MLK tribute album)
  • Miguel Zenón: Identifies are Changeable
  • Christian Scott: KKPD (Ku Klux Police Department)
  • Dave Brubeck: Truth Is Fallen (a dedication to students killed at Kent State and Mississippi), The Real Ambassadors
  • Joe Henderson: Power To The People, If You’re Not Part of the Solution You’re Part of the Problem, In Pursuit of Blackness, Black Narcissus
  • Gary Bartz: Uhuru Sasa from Harlem Bush Music, Taifa, the Drinking Song
  • Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Volunteered Slavery
  • Fabian Almazan: HUGs
  • Terence Blanchard: A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), Breathless
  • Su Ra Arkestra: Nuclear War
  • Joe Sealy: Africville
  • Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes From the Underground, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary, Blood on the Fields
  • Noah Preminger: Meditations on Freedom
  • Nina Simone: Mississippi Goddamn, Baltimore
  • Gil Scott-Heron: Winter In America, Pieces of A Man, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, It’s Your World with the Bicentennial Blues
  • Kenyon Harold’s: Mugician
  • Henry Working: Kenston
  • Fred Ho: Tomorrow Is Now!
  • Jimmy Greene: Love In Action
  • Jayne Cortez and the Firespitters date with Bern Nix
  • Darcy James Argue: Real Enemies

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●     Academic Integrity in Graduate Education and Research

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●      Plagiarism: How to Recognize it and How to Avoid It

●      University of Connecticut Libraries’ Student Instruction  (includes research, citing and writing resources)

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