Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stephen Blum

Committee Members

Peter Manuel

Jane Sugarman

Herman Bennett

Zed Adams

Subject Categories



jazz, recording, technology, new media, performance, New York


This dissertation is a study of the uses of recording technologies and new media by jazz musicians in New York. It privileges the perspectives of professional musicians, gleaned through interviews and observation of their discourses and practices in live and recorded performances and in online new media spaces. Contrary to scholarly and critical approaches to jazz that privilege live performance, this dissertation argues that mediatization, through use of recording technologies, digital formats and platforms, and social media, is a vital mode of jazz performance in the digital age. Chapter 1 shows how formative encounters with jazz by musicians coming of age in the 1980s, ‘90s, and 2000s were often with recorded media, instilling in them positive attitudes towards the creative and professional opportunities presented by recording technologies. Chapter 2 presents the professional and artistic reasons why musicians make recordings, how they choose music to record, and how they fund their recording projects amid a traditional recording industry averse to developing jazz musicians. Chapter 3 describes the ways that musicians use the technologies of the recording studio, which increasingly challenge conventional distinctions between stages of recording, aligning instead with integrated practices of “production” central to studio-based genres like hip-hop, electronic music, and pop. Chapter 4 examines how musicians are using new media of distribution and promotion—often despite the exploitative practices of media companies—to release their recordings and cultivate social networks of fans and fellow musicians. Chapter 5 discusses some current trends in the style of recording-oriented jazz under the aesthetic frameworks of songs and beats and considers how these frameworks accommodate the improvised solo, a hallmark of jazz. Chapter 6 interrogates the ontology and phenomenology of jazz recording, using the framework of mediatized performance to argue against the common notion that recording necessarily impoverishes improvised music. In closing, Chapter 7 reveals how mediatized performances have enabled jazz musicians to participate in social movements that themselves are highly mediatized. This dissertation contributes to our knowledge of contemporary jazz, the ways musicians are adapting to and innovating with new technologies and media, and the relationship between recording and performance in the digital age.