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Saturday Panels
Jack Kerouac: What's New?
December 19, 2009

Join scholar Sara Villa, poet Rueben Jackson and others on recent discoveries and jazz-related items in the Kerouac oeuvre. When thinking of the relationship between Kerouac’s writings, the first things that generally come to mind are his major novels -– most evidently On the Road and The Subterraneans -– his poems, like the “Charlie Parker Choruses” of Mexico City Blues, or his poetical statements, such as his “Essential of Spontaneous Prose”. If, however, we unite this specifically literary perspective to the analysis of his apparently most scattered writings on jazz, a new image of Kerouac is revealed. These texts, dating from 1939 to the late Fifties, include the articles Kerouac wrote for the Horace Mann Record dedicated to Count Basie, Glenn Miller and George Avakian’s Chicago Jazz album, essays on the hybridizing influences of contemporary classical compositions and on the evolution of bebop and cool jazz, poems and journal entries disclosing the poignant insight of a refined cultural critic, one who is extremely knowledgeable and refined in his embrace of jazz music and culture. These texts will be the beginning of a more expanded dialogue and discussion on Kerouac and jazz, with a special contribution of jazz, classical musician and composer David Amram on his jazz poetry performances with Jack Kerouac and on the creation of Pull My Daisy, directed by Robert Frank and Albert Leslie, ad-libbed by Jack Kerouac with original music composed by David Amram. Sara Villa is a postdoctoral fellow in a joint program between Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies and the State University of Milan, where she received her PhD in 2008. Her research project is dedicated to Jack Kerouac’s manuscripts on jazz, from his youthful articles on Glenn Miller and Count Basie to the more mature production of essays on bebop and cool jazz. Dr. Villa is the translator into Italian of Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954, and the editor of a forthcoming collection of Kerouac’s music writings. She is the author of articles on Jack Kerouac, Virginia Woolf, and Anglo-American Contemporary Cinema. Her monographic volume on Woolf’s Orlando (I due Orlando: dal romanzo di Virginia Woolf all’adattamento cinematografico di Sally Potter/Two Orlandos: From Virginia Woolf’s Novel to Sally Potter’s Film Adaptation) has recently been published by CUEM, Milan.

Scholar Sara Villa (third from left) led a fascinating presentation on Jack Kerouac and jazz.

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