Paul Rinzler joined the Cal Poly faculty in 1997 as Director of Jazz Studies after having taught jazz classes at University of California at Santa Cruz for twelve years. He received his doctorate in theory/composition with a secondary emphasis in jazz pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado.
Dr. Rinzler has taken the Cal Poly Jazz band around the world 🌎 🌍.
Here he is in China with Cal Poly Jazz students in Beijing, 2004.
In October of 2008 Scarecrow Press published, The Contradictions of Jazz,
His book The Contradictions of Jazz, (2008) set a standard for clarity in the philosophy of jazz and investigates the oppositions that jazz musicians embrace, such as individualism/interconnectedness, assertion/openness, tradition/creativity, and/or freedom/responsibility.
Here’s a description of the book by the publisher, Scarecrow Press:
“In The Contradictions of Jazz, Paul Rinzler takes a new approach to jazz aesthetics and theory by exploring four pairs of opposites present in jazz: individualism and interconnectedness, assertion and openness, freedom and responsibility, and creativity and tradition. By themselves, these eight values speak volumes about the meaning of jazz and its significance. Understanding how these opposites coexist in jazz leads to an exploration of the connections linking jazz with the experiential and existential, which contrast with the connections between composition and science. Rinzler explains the various concepts, including either/or and dialectic thinking, and then examines the pairs of opposites individually, describing their position and presence in jazz. He then demonstrates how the larger meaning of these contradictory opposites depends on ideas from the philosophies of phenomenology and existentialism. Rinzler considers the opposites inherent in the product and process of jazz, as well as mistakes and the challenge of perfection, presenting these values in light of the contradictions inherent in jazz.”
The book received excellent reviews.
He was the accompanist for a jazz choir recording (“Hot IV”) that was nominated for a Grammy award.
On his jazz piano trio CD, “Active Listening” (Sea Breeze Jazz 3039), Cadence magazine
noted “impressive trio interplay” and “rich dialogues” while JazzTimes reviewer David Franklin finds that:
“”Active Listening” offers a lesson in the kind of spontaneous trio interaction pioneered by the Bill Evans trios. . . . (Rinzler’s trio) demonstrates how an improvised piece can start with a simple idea (a chord progression or germ of a melody, for instance) and gradually take form to emerge as a unified whole through the interactive contributions of each group member. Hence the album’s title. The end product in this case is satisfying, relatively mainstream music in a variety of tempos. All works are original and credited to the leader, although it’s evident that most are the spontaneous creations of the trio.” (bold not in original)
Actively listen to the album at AllMusic.com.
Dr. Rinzler has been awarded several National Endowment of the Arts grants, including a Jazz Performance Grant.
Paul Rinzler and Dylan Johnson perform “Music at the Fellowship,” Unitarian Universalist Fellowship San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, CA, January 18, 2015.
At Jazz Night, June 2, 2018 at Cal Poly, Rinzler’s composition “One More Time” was featured being a humorous compilation stringing together many cliché endings.
Read all about Dr. Rinzler’s experiences as a jazz conductor at Mustang News, March 5, 2008.
His articles on jazz have appeared in journals such as the Annual Review of Jazz Studies, “McCoy Tyler: Style and Syntax,” Vol. 2, 1981, pp. 109-149.
“Preliminary Thoughts on Analyzing Musical Interaction Among Jazz Performers, Annual Review of Jazz Studies Vol. 4, 1988, pp. 153-160.
Michael Mackey compliments Rinzler in his “Improvisation, Interaction and Intermusicality in the Bill Evans Trio” (Epistrophe, Vol. 2, 2017) for being one of only three major jazz scholars to have analyzed interactions in jazz.
“Scholarship on the interactive properties of jazz improvisation has been rather scant, save the influential work of three scholars : Paul Rinzler, Paul Berliner, and Ingrid Monson. Paul Rinzler’s 1988 article “Preliminary Thoughts on Analyzing Musical Interaction Among Jazz Performers” was among the first to address the issue. Dismayed by trends at the time that favored computational and scientific models for musical analysis, Rinzler feared that such analytics neglected the most crucial human process in jazz performance – musician interaction . In response, he delineates the “rules of the game” or the presupposed functions of each instrument in the ensemble and how jazz musicians negotiate these individual roles with varying degrees of creativity and aesthetic sensibility while satisfying more general positions as accompanist or soloist. Performers are then analyzed according to measurable amounts of creativity and interaction as present in a group performances in relation to the game rules, including call and response, fills, accentuation of phrase and large form structures, common motives, and rhythm sections responses to the “peaks” of the soloist.” (bold not in original)
“The Quartal and Pentatonic Harmony of McCoy Tyner,” Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Vol. 10, 1999, pp. 35-87.
“Jazz Arranging and Performance Practice: A Guide for Small Ensembles,” Scarecrow Press, 1999.
“Quartal Jazz Piano Voicings,” Hal Leonard Corporation, 2002.
“Slash Chord Harmony,” Jazz Research Papers, 1993.
“Inspiration in Jazz Improvisation,” Moebius, 2 (1), 5.
Entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.
Wadsworth Publishing published his listening guide software that accompanies the jazz history text Essential Jazz: The First 100 Years.
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