The Dartmouth Five - 1967

The Coast Through Time

The Coast remains one of the longest continuously running college jazz ensembles in the United States

The Coast Through Time 

by Sophia Kinne '20 

The Coast Jazz Orchestra is the latest iteration of an unbroken continuum of students at Dartmouth College interested in creating exciting and innovative sounds together. For over 100 years, Dartmouth students have been swinging, bopping and vibing to a changing and adaptive style of music often tied down to a singular descriptive word, "jazz", that may mean something different depending on who you ask. Whether it's the notion of a particular instrumentation, the presence of improvisation, or the inclusion of varying music styles in its repertoire, Coast has been a part of the expanse of meanings this word can carry. The conception of a "jazz band" at Dartmouth College originated in the early years of the 20th century, when advances in recording technology and media distribution allowed the innovations and performance styles of Black musicians to permeate and influence popular culture. In 1917, an ensemble called the "Dartmouth Five" began performing popular Dixieland music and vaudeville style shows, marking the beginning of a long history of jazz at Dartmouth. In 1921, the administration of Dartmouth College forced the musicians to remove the college's name from the title of their band, leading to a new name, "The Barbary Coast Five," referencing the notorious red-light district in San Francisco where this new music was known to thrive. Through the '20s and '30s, the band toured the country and made records, performing at college campuses and other venues, and contributed their own musical stylings to the developing artform. Blues, ragtime, hot jazz and swing developed in their own right and bled into one another to create the wealth of styles associated with jazz today. As the music of the day evolved, the taste, style and instrumentation of the band also changed along with its name, the variations of which included "The Barbary Coast Eight," "The Barbary Coast Orchestra" and "The Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble". After six decades in which the band was student-led, Dartmouth officially recognized the band in the 1970s, putting it under the umbrella of the Hopkins Center for the Arts and hiring Don Glasgo as the first appointed director of the band. During his 40 years at the helm of the ensemble, Don nurtured and supported generations of Dartmouth musicians and brought in an eclectic mix of guest artists to work with the band, including such legends as Max Roach, Dexter Gordon and Sun Ra. In 2017, Taylor Ho Bynum came on board as Coast's new director, and under his leadership the band has remained a home for musical creativity, individual exploration and collective discovery. The band has served as an important community at Dartmouth College for a variety of students with different musical backgrounds and artistic goals. The Coast recognizes what a privilege it is to play this music in a supportive collegiate environment, while acknowledging and attempting to honor the improvisatory and revolutionary principles that guided the pioneers of the music. 

The Coast's "New" Name 
In 2017, members of the ensemble became interested in the origins and meanings of the band's name, "The Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble." The students formed a committee to investigate the meanings of "Barbary Coast" throughout history and within the context of jazz at Dartmouth and beyond. After nearly two years of research and discussion, the committee presented its findings to the rest of the band, the alumni of the band and interested members of the Dartmouth community. As discussed above, at the time of the band's original naming, San Francisco's "Barbary Coast" was a redlight district known for its emerging swing and dance scene. That district in turn was named after the colonial term for the Northern coast of Africa, a region known in the Western imagination for its history of piracy and slave trading. After heavy research and discussion, the committee offered the opinion that the word "Barbary" did not need to remain in the name in order to stay connected to the band's traditions. The contemporary associations among the general public generated by the words "Barbary Coast" are very different than in the 1920s, and the current students felt it was more important to honor the intent of the founders of the band and the values of the music itself, rather than stay attached to a name. Long informally known as "Coast" among its members, alumni and fans, the band has now adopted "The Coast Jazz Orchestra at Dartmouth" as its official moniker.




Recent Collaborators 2017-2020:

Guest composer/performers: Carla Bley, Mary Halvorson, Michael Formaneck, Tomas Fujiwara, Kris Davis, Joseph Daley, Jim Hobbs, Bill Lowe
Guest performers: Kyoko Kitamura, Michael Mayo, Bill Cole, Joe Morris, Ingrid Laubrock, Ken Filiano, Stomu Takeishi, Tomeka Reid, Wes Brown
Touring ensembles: Harish Raghavan/Savannah Harris Quartet, Umbrella Pine, Patrice Williamson Quartet, the Fully Celebrated Orchestra, Geometry, BassDrumBone

Guest Artists 1978-2017 (under the direction of Don Glasgo):

Pepper Adams, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Marshall Allen, David Ambrosio, Robby Ameen, Ray Anderson, Peter Apfelbaum, Tim Atherton, Karl Berger, Marco Bermudez, Steven Bernstein, Jimmy Bosch, Bahnamous Bowie, Byron Bowie, Joseph Bowie, Lester Bowie, Cecil Bridgewater, Samarai Celestial, Don Cherry, Bill Cole, Graham Collier, Walt Cunningham, Marty Ehrlich, Dave Ellis, Jason Ennis, Jonathan Gómez, Andy Gonzalez, Jerry Gonzalez, Joe Gonzalez, Dexter Gordon, Tim Green, Bob Gullotti, Fred Haas, Slide Hampton, Craig Harris, Donald Harrison, James Harvey, Jimmy Heath, Percy Heath, Julius Hemphill, Carlos Henriquez, Conrad Herwig, Giovanni Hidalgo, James Hurt, Ryan Keberle, Adam Klipple, Oliver Lake, Erik Lawrence, George Lewis, J.T. Lewis, Jason Lindner, Brian Lynch, Pat Metheny, José Madera, Nicole Mitchell, Frank Morgan, Lawrence "Butch" Morris, David Murray, Arturo O'Farrill, Manny Oquendo, Eddie Palmieri, Sun Ra, Tobias Ralph, Nelson Rangell, Michael Ray, Ivan Renta, Sam Rivers, Max Roach, Michael Rodriguez, William Rodriguez, Andres Rotmistrovsky, Kermit Ruffins, Bobby Sanabria, Ray Santos, Maria Schneider, Jim Seeley, Woody Shaw, Warren Smith, Omar Sosa, John Stubblefield, Lew Tabackin, Clark Terry, Adam Theis, Gregorio Uribe, "Papo" Vasquez, Ray Vega, Walter White, James Williams, Deanna Witkowski, Marcello Woloski




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