Jazz Music and Social Change

UNIV 1784, section 027-1218: Freshman Honors Seminar

Jazz Music and Social Change

Fall 2022 semester
Tuesdays/Thursdays 11AM – 11:50AM (facilitator day: Tues., instructor day: Thurs.)
Classroom: MUSB 107
1 Credit

Instructor: Professor Earl MacDonald
e-mail: earl [dot] macdonald [at] uconn [dot] edu (Please allow 24-48 hours for a response to emails.)
Office: MUSB 207
Office hours: Wednesdays at 10 a.m., and by appointment

Co-Facilitators: Ayana Shrestha: ayana [dot] shrestha [at] uconn [dot] edu,
Brooke Duda: brooke [dot] duda [at] uconn [dot] 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.

Although we will consider many significant works based upon pivotal historic occurrences, this is not a jazz history course. We will not adhere to a sequential order. Rather, we will explore many broad issues, the context in which they arose, and how musicians responded.

After surveying a sampling of albums, you will have the opportunity to think creatively. Using your imagination and planning skills, you will conceive an album which addresses a contemporary sociopolitical issue of your choice. In the role of album producer, you will choose the album and song titles, and plan every conceptual detail of the recording.

[Potentially, collaborations with jazz studies majors could be facilitated by the instructor, to assist in realizing your vision. However, this would likely occur in subsequent semesters, outside of this class.]

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the semester, students will have:

  1. become acquainted with many significant jazz artists and be able to contextualize their artistic contributions historically, socially and musically.
  2. examined significant sociopolitical issues which inspired selected musical compositions and entire albums.
  3. identified contemporary sociopolitical causes to which they are personally devoted and hope to exert some influence.
  4. considered how to effectively engage in artistic social activism, in an effort to bring about public awareness and change (thereby relating the course topic to their own lives).
  5. fostered an appreciation and understanding of jazz music, social justice issues and activism – all of which could be further pursued going forward.

Assignments and Grading:

  • Individual Lecture Presentations – 15%
  • Written topical reflections/responses (4) – 20%
  • Album Conceptualization Project – 25%
  • Class Participation – 20%
    (comprising: regular attendance on Tuesdays and Thursdays, consistent engagement in classroom discussions, preparedness, promptness, and accomplishing the learning objectives articulated in the facilitators’ syllabus)
  • Concert attendance and review – 10%
    (due before 5 PM on Tues. Dec. 6)
    On-campus options:

Off-campus options:

  • Resumé requirement – 10%
  • There is no final exam!

Class Schedule:

Sept. 1 (Thurs.):

Sept. 5 (Monday): Labor Day – No classes

Sept. 8 (Thurs.):

Sept. 12 (Monday):

Courses dropped after this date will have a “W” for withdrawal recorded on the academic record. Last day to add or drop courses without additional signatures.

Sept. 15 (Thurs.):

Sept. 22 (Thurs.):

Sept. 29 (Thurs.):

Oct. 6 (Thurs.):

Oct. 7 (Friday):

Mid-semester progress reports due to students from faculty

Oct. 13 (Thurs.):

Oct. 20 (Thurs.):

Oct. 25 (Tues.): *Facilitators and instructors switch days. Instructor Session.

Oct. 27 (Thurs.): *Instructor will be out of town. Facilitator session.

Nov. 3 (Thurs.):

* Upload your completed project as a PDF to the following drop box folder by 9AM:

Nov. 10 (Thurs.):

Nov. 14 (Mon.): Last day to withdraw from a course.

Nov. 17 (Thurs.):

  • elevator pitches

Nov. 20 – 26: Thanksgiving Recess

Dec. 1 (Thurs.):

  • completion of elevator pitches.
  • SET surveys

Dec. 6 (Tues.):

Dec. 8 (Thurs.):

  • Class “debriefing”

Dec. 9 (Friday): Last day of fall semester classes

Dec. 10, 11, 15: Reading Days

Dec. 12 – 18: Final Examination


* 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), Members Don’t Git Weary, Garvey’s Ghost
  • Duke Ellington: Black, Brown and Beige, Black and Tan Fantasy
  • Miles Davis: Tutu
  • 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, The Gates of Justice
  • 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
  • Antonio Sanchez: Bad Hombre
  • Dave Douglas: Marching Music, Strange Liberation, Witness, ENGAGE, UPLIFT
  • Kazemde George: I Insist
  • Gregg August: Dialogues on Race
  • Felipe Salles – The New Immigrant Experience
  • John Daversa –  American Dreamers
  • Curtis Steward – Of Power
  • Brad Mehldau – The Prophet Is A Fool
  • Charles McPherson – Reflection on an Election (from “Jazz Dance Suites,” a response to the 2016 elections.)
  • Oscar Peterson: Hymn to Freedom
  • jaimie branch – “prayer for amerikkka pt. 1 & 2”

Copyright: My lectures, notes, handouts, and displays are protected by state common law and federal copyright law. They are my own original expression and I’ve recorded them prior or during my lecture in order to ensure that I obtain copyright protection. Students are authorized to take notes in my class; however, this authorization extends only to making one set of notes for your own personal use and no other use. I will inform you as to whether you are authorized to record my lectures at the beginning of each semester. If you are so authorized to record my lectures, you may not copy this recording or any other material, provide copies of either to anyone else, or make a commercial use of them without prior permission from me.

It is the responsibility of all students to acquaint themselves, and to adhere to all university policies. Please review the following:

Students are expected to follow all safety protocols and to keep current with university communications regarding COVID-19.

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The University is committed to maintaining a safe and non-discriminatory learning, living, and working environments for all members of the University community – students, employees, or visitors. Academic and professional excellence can flourish only when each member of our community is assured an atmosphere of mutual respect. All members of the University community are responsible for the maintenance of an academic and work environment in which people are free to learn and work without fear of discrimination or discriminatory harassment. In addition, inappropriate amorous relationships can undermine the University’s mission when those in positions of authority abuse or appear to abuse their authority. To that end, and in accordance with federal and state law, the University prohibits discrimination and discriminatory harassment, as well as inappropriate amorous relationships, and such behavior will be met with appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University. Additionally, to protect the campus community, all responsible employees (including faculty), as outlined in the Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence, are required to report to the Office of Institutional Equity any information that they receive related to sexual assaults, intimate partner violence, and/or stalking involving a student. An exception to this reporting exists if students disclose information as a part of coursework submitted to an instructor in connection with a course assignment. Even in the absence of such obligation, all Employees are encouraged to contact OIE if they become aware of information that suggests a safety risk to the University community or any member thereof. The University takes all reports with the utmost seriousness. Please be aware that while the information you provide will remain private, it will not be confidential and will be shared with university officials who can help. More information, including confidential and exempt employee resources available for support and assistance, can be found at equity.uconn.edu and titleix.uconn.edu.

Statement on Absences from Class Due to Religious Observances and Extra-Curricular Activities

Faculty and instructors are expected to reasonably accommodate individual religious practices unless doing so would result in fundamental alteration of class objectives or undue hardship to the University’s legitimate business purposes. Such accommodations may include rescheduling an exam or giving a make-up exam, allowing a presentation to be made on a different date or assigning the student appropriate make-up work that is intrinsically no more difficult than the original assignment. Faculty and instructors are strongly encouraged to allow students to complete work missed due to participation in extra-curricular activities that enrich their experience, support their scholarly development, and benefit the university community. Examples include participation in scholarly presentations, performing arts, and intercollegiate sports, when the participation is at the request of, or coordinated by, a University official. Students should be encouraged to review the course syllabus at the beginning of the semester for potential conflicts and promptly notify their instructor of any anticipated accommodation needs. Students are responsible for making arrangements in advance to make up missed work.

For conflicts with final examinations, students should contact the Dean of Students Office. Faculty and instructors are also encouraged to respond when the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletes (CPIA) requests student progress reports. This will enable the counselors to give our students appropriate advice.

Students with Disabilities

The University of Connecticut is committed to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and assuring that the learning environment is accessible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. Students who require accommodations should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities, Wilbur Cross Building Room 204, (860) 486-2020 or http://csd.uconn.edu/.

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