From the archive: the meaning of jazz, 1987

While Courtney Pine led out the new avant garde, it was time to take stock of the old timers

It’s an archetypal jazz shot on the cover of the Observer Magazine of 15 February 1987, a grainy Thelonius Monk, one of the great originals, wreathed in smoke and lost in music (‘Player Kings and all that Jazz’).

Russell Davies’s celebration of jazz argued that it had been making something of a comeback (especially in the form of the saxist Courtney Pine). He tried to answer the simple but very slippery question: ‘What is jazz?’ His answer being: ‘Jazz today is almost anything you want it to be.’

Jazz today is almost anything you want it to be

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Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

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