This prologue describes the collaboration between New York City jazz musicians and audiences—during performances and elsewhere—that is essential for creating meaningful music and building cohesive communities. It argues that jazz audiences—whether they are amateur fans, music professionals, or, more often, some combination of both—are not passive “receivers” of music, but are in fact active performers. Although our attention is typically drawn to the onstage activities, the book suggests that jazz-making is better understood when we take into consideration active participants and the various venue operators, booking agents, photographers, critics, publicists, painters, amateur musicians, fans, friends, and tourists who create the jazz scene. The book refers to these people as an improvised community of listeners and participants who collectively assert their sense of themselves and of each other through the music they make. The book cites the case of Peter Cox, an integral figure in New York's jazz scene who was characterized by musicians as a fellow performer.
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