Jazz Codes and Meaning

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Jazz is of course by no means univocal. It is important to note that the jazz art ideology identified here is far from the only existing identity for jazz in the 1980s and other eras. For example, in 1950s film noir, “crime jazz” often accompanied the corrupted, dark side of the city; jazz projected sex, drugs, and other vices of a depraved urban land- scape (e.g., The Sweet Smell of Success, The Man with the Golden Arm). As bebop musicians were crafting an elite, virtuosic music appreciated by hipster-intellectuals, jazz-influenced film scores used instruments such as a scooping jazz saxophone to represent the sexuality of a femme fatale. This is still evident in recent parodies of film noir, for example on the television cartoon series The Simpsons.78 And although this essay is pri- marily concerned with the use of jazz in the hip-hop world, there were 76 David Malley, “Digable Planets,” Rolling Stone Album Guide, 2004, available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/digableplanets/biography (accessed June 1, 2007). 77 Many other hip-hop groups, such as Organized Konfusion, Stetsasonic, Main Source, Black Moon, Freestyle Fellowship, The Roots, Quasimoto, and Souls of Mischief have incorporated jazz codes that have contributed to their alternative rap categoriza- tions. Although the media gave much less attention to jazz rap after the mid-1990s, the link between jazz and hip-hop continues into the twenty-first century with artists including U.S. trumpeter/rapper Russell Gunn, U.S. pianist Robert Glasper, and U.K. saxophonist/ rapper Soweto Kinch. 78 These musical tropes were still used in the 1980s; one example was the use of the saxophone in the action series MacGyver for a sexually charged fantasy sequence between MacGyver and a woman. JM2704_02.indd 455 11/22/10 5:06:18 PM the journal of musicology 456 instances in which influence flowed in the other

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