Dr. Paul Rinzler

Dr. Paul Rinzler

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
(Yogi Berra, New York Yankees/catcher, 1925-2015)

Returning from JPIC 2017 where he was opening keynote speaker is Dr. Paul Rinzler, Director of Jazz Studies at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA.

See for yourself Cal Poly promo photo long distance

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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 🌎 🌍.

Cal Poly Jazz Band list of world trips over the years

Here he is in China with Cal Poly Jazz students in Beijing, 2004.

Paul Rinzler far left blue shirt in Beijing China 2004
(Dr. Paul Rinzler far left blue shirt in Beijing China 2004 with Cal Poly Jazz band)
Green raincoats Paul Rinzler far left blue shirt in Beijing China 2004
(Dr. Rinzler on far right in Beijing China 2004)
Paul Rinzler conducting Cal Poly jazz band in China 2004
(Dr. Rinzler conducting on far left)

In October of 2008 Scarecrow Press published, The Contradictions of Jazz,

The Contradictions of Jazz book cover

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.

Grammy Award with Rinzler nomination

Active Listening CD cover

On his jazz piano trio CD, “Active Listening” (Sea Breeze Jazz 3039), Cadence magazine

Cadence magazine logo

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 NEA logo National Endowment of the Arts grants, including a Jazz Performance Grant.  

Scarecrow Press re-released his Jazz Arranging and Performance Practice Jazz Arranginng and Performance Practice book cover in paperback, and Hal Leonard Corporation published Rinzler’s, Quartal Jazz Piano Voicings. Quarts Piano Voicings by Paul Rinzler book cover

Shiny purple reflecting globe bullet  Paul Rinzler and Dylan Johnson perform “Music at the Fellowship,” Unitarian Universalist Fellowship San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, CA, January 18, 2015.

Shiny purple reflecting globe bullet  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. 


Jazz Night with Paul Rinzler

Shiny purple reflecting globe bullet  Read all about Dr. Rinzler’s experiences as a jazz conductor at Mustang News, March 5, 2008.

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  His articles on jazz have appeared in journals such as the Annual Review of Jazz Studies, “McCoy Tyner: Style and Syntax,” Vol. 2, 1981, pp. 109-149.

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  “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 [2]. 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)

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  “The Quartal and Pentatonic Harmony of McCoy Tyner,” Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Vol. 10, 1999, pp. 35-87.

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  “Jazz Arranging and Performance Practice: A Guide for Small Ensembles,” Scarecrow Press, 1999.

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  “Quartal Jazz Piano Voicings,” Hal Leonard Corporation, 2002.

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  “Slash Chord Harmony,” Jazz Research Papers, 1993.

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  “Inspiration in Jazz Improvisation,” Moebius, 2 (1), 5.

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet   Entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.  

Shiny reflective dark blue sphere bullet  Wadsworth Publishing published his listening guide software that accompanies the jazz history text Essential Jazz: The First 100 Years.

Essential Jazz: The First 100 Years 1st edition book cover
(1st edition)

Essential Jazz: The First 100 Years, 2nd edition book cover
(2nd edition)

Essential Jazz: The First 100 Years, 3rd edition book cover
(3rd edition)

Jazz: The First 100 Years, 1st edition book cover
(enhanced 3rd edition)

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