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Logo Exchange Editorial
Logo Exchange - Spring 1998
Gary S. Stager — Editor-in-Chief

Logo and Jazz

Before I dedicated my professional life to teacher education and Logo evangelism, I studied to be a professional jazz musician. Although I no longer practice an instrument or arrange music my CD collection continues to expand and I am continuously inspired by what I learn about learning at the feet of great jazz artists.

Improvisational music is at the heart of jazz and the "samba school" discussed in Mindstorms. Jazz is an art form you learn and hone in a social context, on the bandstand. There are jazz textbooks, but great musicians are not the product of such books. They are the products of experience. Watching Betty Carter prowl the stage coaxing, cajoling, inspiring and nurturing talent out of young musicians is a special treat. Miles Davis grew as an artist and reinvented the musical genre repeatedly for five decades by collaborating with young musicians. Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers was the MIT of jazz performance for forty years. Blakey had an enormous influence on generations of musicians by creating a climate of musical excellence to which every young musician aspired. Art Blakey was fond of saying of his band members, "when these guys get too old, I’ll get some new ones." Is a second or third generation of Logo leaders being nurtured?

The following is a list of similarities I’ve identified between Jazz and Logo:

Jazz and Logo value freedom

Wynton Marsalis argues that jazz epitomizes the highest ideals of American-style democracy in that it celebrates individual expression and excellence within a group context for the collective good.

Jazz and Logo are about community

Learning occurs best in a community of practice. Jazz musicians work and learn within a community of other musicians. There is no greater model of a learning community than what you may find in the kitchen of New York’s Village Vanguard between sets. It is not uncommon to see three generations of musicians trading stories and sharing wisdom with one another.

Both require greater levels of commitment and artistry than their popular cousins

Jazz and Logo are hard fun. Their personal worth derives from being challenging and meaningful.

Much more expressive and personal than popular forms

Math Blaster vs. MicroWorlds... John Coltrane vs. Spice Girls... ‘nuff said!

Easily caricatured and misunderstood

Whether we consider the goateed beret-wearing hipster or the elitist Logo zealot, both groups of people are the subject of misunderstanding and trivialization.

Educators remain ignorant of both jazz and Logo

Too few music educators learn the philosophy and techniques associated with jazz. Too few computer-using educators are exposed to the philosophy and techniques associated with Logo learning

Their popularity ebbs and flows, but the form continues to evolve

New forms of Logo and jazz continue to emerge. New practitioners are added to both fields.

Jazz and Logo are both under-represented in the media

Philosophy is consistent over time

Has a clarity and continuum of purpose that is not lost with the advent of new technology. New instruments are embraced and styles assimilated without abandoning the artistic/learning objectives.

An essentially American invention achieves greater levels of respect and popularity overseas

The expatriate is a jazz tradition. For generations, jazz musicians have sought monetary rewards and respect overseas. Logo is alive and well in Latin America, Australia and Eastern Europe.

From simple elements complexity may emerge

Primitives and procedures are the building blocks of Logo. Chords and scales are the building blocks of jazz. These simple elements are arranged to create infinite levels of complexity, function and beauty.

Plan on joining your fellow "Logo artists" at the next Samba School, Logosium ‘98 at NECC in San Diego on June 21st, 1998. The sense of Logo community will be enhanced by a bus-ride to the conference site and a seaside dinner on the way home. Check your NECC program for more information or send email to We would love for you to come share your ideas and experiences with us!

Keep Swingin’

Gary Stager

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