Opening the Door: Using Pluralism as a Philosophical Lens in the Jazz History Classroom

Educator resources

Opening the Door: Using Pluralism as a Philosophical Lens in the Jazz History Classroom

An introductory jazz history course is an opportunity to create meaningful dialogue with students that adds a necessary nuance to the common narrative of jazz history. To capitalize on this opportunity, instructors must understand the limitations of a tradi- tional approach and realize that their student body does not enter the classroom deficient. Instead, a shift in perspective from fine arts to humanities allows students to bring their own backgrounds to a philosophical discussion that centers on jazz history. Using plural- ism as a specific philosophical lens allows a diverse and inclusive understanding of jazz that can be extrapolated to a larger human experience. Instructors can use the breadth of pluralism at specific landmarks in their curriculum to allow jazz to be observed through sociology, culture, and the human condition. The exclusionary barriers formed from over-simplification can be eliminated by this cognitive understanding of jazz and instead students will synthesize the wide array of opinions associated with the music. By opening the philosophical door, students will have a more well-rounded introduction to jazz history that will serve them as musicians and human beings.


Plus a Q & A with the live audience.


A presentation from the Jazz Education Research and Practice Journal, a publication of the Jazz Education Network.


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David Baker is currently serving as Assistant Professor and Area Coordinator of Jazz & Commercial Music at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. He received his Doctor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado in Jazz Studies emphasizing in performance and composition. He has been an active performer for over fifteen years including performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Gene Harris Jazz Festival, The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, Dazzle™ Jazz & Supper Club, The Velvet Note, and The Jazz Education Network Conference. He has shared the stage with Greg Gisbert, Bob Sheppard, Corey Christiansen, Chase Baird, Carmen Bradford, and Drew Zaremba. David was awarded the First Alternate position in the International Society of Bassists’ 2019 Jazz Performance Competition. David is an active member of the Utah jazz community and can be seen regularly performing throughout the state. Similarly, he has a long-standing musical relationship with Alex Sjobeck, Ryan Fourt, Jack Roben, Jenna McLean, and other artists throughout the country.


David is well-versed in popular music styles and can be heard on records with Emily Merrell and Sam Costigan. He has likewise been hired by The Platters, Frankie Avalon, Bryce Merritt, and the Colorado Symphony as an electric bassist. He is currently an active member of the Diamond Empire band and Hot House West and can be seen performing all over the Intermountain West. David works as a singer/songwriter, and has been writing and recording his own music for over ten years. He combines these skills with music business, graphic design, and marketing under Moddl Records™, his independent record label.


David has given masterclasses and lectures across the United States including most recently at the 2021 and 2019 International Society of Bassists Convention and the 2020 Jazz Educator’s Network Conference in New Orleans. His recent research aims to redefine early jazz history and focuses on the consequential role of pluralism and religion in the creation of jazz. In 2022, David published the article “Opening the Door: Using Pluralism as a Philosophical Lens in the Jazz History Classroom” in Jazz Education in Research and Practice (Indiana University Press).

charlotte lang

Swiss/Dutch saxophonist Charlotte Lang was born in 1996 in Basel and studied the bachelor and master program at the JAZZCAMPUS Basel under the guidance of Domenic Landolf and Daniel Blanc. She is currently studying the Master of Music in Global Jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston under the artistic direction of Danilo Pérez. In addition she is part of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.


From 2015 to 2018, Charlotte she was a member of the Swiss National Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Christian Muthspiel. Since 2020, she became a member of the German National Youth Jazz Orchestra (Bundesjazzorchester Deutschland), under the direction of Niels Klein and Ansgar Striepens. She also plays is the Austrian FJO (Frauen Jazz Orchester→Women Jazz Orchestra of Austria).


In 2021, Charlotte founded her own Quintet the „Charlotte Lang Group“, for what she is composing, arranging and booking. In the fall 2023, her first album will be recorded and hopefully released by a renowned label.


Charlotte plays in the “Swiss Jazz Orchestra” and the “Zurich Jazz Orchestra”, the two professional Big Bands of Switzerland.

Charlotte recently got the unique opportunity to write a monthly blog for the Swiss Jazz & Blues Magazine called JAZZTIME, to tell readers about her time at abroad and specifically her time at Berklee. Her graduate program lasts only until the summer of 2023. She hopes to stay in the United States to enlarge her network and build her musical career.