Travis A. Jackson


Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities


Ph.D., Columbia University, 1998


Office: Goodspeed 302
Phone: (773) 834-1933


I am interested, above all, in two intertwined processes: the ones through which musical sounds come into being and those that occur when groups and individuals engage with sounds—through listening, dancing, writing, etc. Much of my work, then, sits at the place where ideas about composition, recording and distribution meet those about reception and its embeddedness in culture, society, race, history and geography. What I hope emerges from my writing and teaching is the sense that music is an essential, rather than ornamental, element of daily life, something human beings use to do more than reflect their times.

As someone trained in the methods of ethnomusicology, I focus attention on what people say and do where music is concerned. Taking those words and actions seriously, I analyze them to determine what potential they hold for helping my students and readers understand the complex and situated interactions we might have with music and musicians. Applying that approach to jazz and rock has required that I learn about things that most people might never attach to music—urban geography, economic development, graphic design, and legal theories of race, among them—but it has also resulted in work that, I hope, matches my aims.

Recent Courses Taught

  • Introduction to World Music (Spring 2016)
  • Racialization and Music (Winter 2016, seminar)
  • Rock (Autumn 2015)
  • Music Anthropology (Spring 2015)
  • American Musics (Spring 2014)
  • Post-Punk (Autumn 2013, seminar)
  • Hearing (Spring 2012, seminar)
  • Jazz (Autumn 2011)
  • Music Documentaries (Spring 2011, seminar)
  • Poems and Songs (Spring 2009, co-taught with Robert von Hallberg of the English Department)
  • Eclecticism (Spring 2008, seminar)
  • Scenes and Spatiality (Spring 2007, seminar)

Selected Works

  • Forthcoming: “New Bottle, Old Wine: Whither Jazz Studies?” In Issues in African American Music: Power, Gender, Race, Representation, edited by Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby (New York: Routledge).
  • 2016: “Culture, Commodity, Palimpsest: Locating Jazz in the World.” In Jazz Worlds/World Jazz, edited by Philip V. Bohlman and Goffredo Plastino (Chicago: University of Chicago Press): 381-401.
  • 2013: “Tourist Point of View? Musics of the World and Ellington’s Suites.” Musical Quarterly 96 (3-4): 513-40.
  • 2013: “Disseminating World Music.” In The Cambridge History of World Music, edited by Philip V. Bohlman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 705-25.
  • 2013: “Jazz” (with Mark Tucker). The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed., edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett.
  • 2013: “Falling into Fancy Fragments: Punk, Protest, and Politics.” In The Routledge History of Social Protest in Popular Music, edited by Jonathan C. Friedman (New York: Routledge): 157-70.
  • 2012: Blowin’ the Blues Away: Performance and Meaning on the New York Jazz Scene. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • 2007 “Play It (Over and Over Again).” Review of Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff. The Nation, 12 November, 41– 44.
  • 2007 “Rearticulating Ethnomusicology: Privilege, Ambivalence, and Twelve Years in SEM.” Ethnomusicology 50(2): 280–6.
  • 2004  “‘Always New and Centuries Old’: Jazz, Poetry, and Tradition as Creative Adaptation.” In Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies, edited by Robert G. O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards and Farah Jasmine Griffin. (New York: Columbia University Press): 357–73.
  • 2000 “Spooning Good, Singing Gum: Meaning, Association, and Interpretation in Rock Music.” Current Musicology 69: 7–41.
  • 2000 “Jazz Performance as Ritual: The Blues Aesthetic and the African Diaspora.” In The African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective, edited by Ingrid Monson (New York: Garland), 23–82.