An interpretation of the semiotics of ‘self’ with the Modern Jazz Quartet on Jazz 625 as a case study

  • Alexander Gagatsis University of Manchester
Keywords: Jazz 625, Modern Jazz Quartet, television, jazz


In this article I examine the Modern Jazz Quartet’s first appearance for the BBC programme, Jazz 625, which featured guitarist Laurindo Almeida. Taking my cue from the repertoire and presentation of the group, as well as the technological affordances and modernist outlook of Jazz 625, I explore some of the ways that the BBC show affirmed the MJQ as a signifier of quality and enhanced its efforts to challenge static depictions of black visibility. In discussing the quartet’s television appearances as texts that reflect upon the quartet’s work in a wider social and cultural framework, I address broader aesthetic questions regarding the work of the MJQ and attempt to understand how and why this arrangement was materialized, and how the MJQ and Jazz 625 were entangled in some evolving social formations.

Author Biography

Alexander Gagatsis, University of Manchester

Alexander Gagatsis is a lecturer in music at the University of Manchester. He holds Masters degrees from the Trinity College of Music, King’s College London, and an Artist Diploma from the State University of New York where he studied with Hal Galper, John Abercrombie and Jon Faddis. He completed his PhD in 2018 at the University of Nottingham with Mervyn Cooke. His research interests include jazz historiography, jazz improvisation, theory and analysis, music theory and cognition, and topics in cultural anthropology.


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How to Cite
Gagatsis, A. (2019). An interpretation of the semiotics of ‘self’ with the Modern Jazz Quartet on Jazz 625 as a case study. Jazz Research Journal, 12(1), 36-62.