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A New Kind of Blue: Connections between Early West Coast Psychedelic Music and Jazz (1963-73)



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Dr. Tom Zlabinger presents A New Kind of Blue: Connections between Early West Coast Psychedelic Music and Jazz (1963-73) .

Several musicians associated with early psychedelic music have professed their admiration of jazz, including Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby of the Byrds, members of the Grateful Dead, members of the Doors, and Carlos Santana. Interestingly, these musicians seem to largely praise two specific jazz musicians: Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Granted, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Davis and Coltrane were two of the most successful and visible jazz musicians at the time. But what elements of Davis’ and Coltrane’s musics were admired, copied, or implemented by these early psychedelic musicians? This presentation examines albums and songs mentioned by the above psychedelic musicians, including Davis’ Kind of Blue (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960); and, Coltrane’s Africa/Brass, My Favorite Things (both 1961), “Tunji” (1962), “India” (1963).

Dr. Tom Zlabinger is a bass player and ethnomusicologist. He directs the York College Big Band, teaches popular music, and hosts a weekly jam session at York College / CUNY. Under his direction, his student ensembles have been invited to perform at Minton’s Playhouse, the Louis Armstrong House, the Vision Festival, Flushing Town Hall, and as finalists to the Mingus Competition. He has also been the guest director of jazz ensembles at Adelphi University, the New York City High School Honors Festival, and the New York City All-County Middle School Festival. Though born and raised in the U.S., Dr. Zlabinger graduated from high school in Vienna, Austria and the experience deeply informed his international perspective. Dr. Zlabinger holds a B.A. in music from Grinnell College, an M.A. in jazz performance from Queens College, and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the Graduate Center / CUNY, with his dissertation entitled FREE FROM JAZZ: The Jazz and Improvised Music Scene in Vienna after Ossiach (1971-2011). His areas of research include psychedelic music, improvisation, and the depiction of musicians and music making across various media franchises, such as the Big Lebowski, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, the Peanuts comic strip, the Simpsons, Star Wars, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and others. He has published, lectured, and performed both nationally and internationally.