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Larkin's Jazz

Course Times & Enrolment

Tuesdays from 16th April 2024 (Code MU079-301) Add to Basket Tuesdays from
16th April 2024 4:10pm - 6:00pm • (10 classes)
M14 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Dick Lee B Mus
£165.00 Concessions and discounts

Course Summary

Between 1961and 1971 the celebrated poet and jazz lover Philip Larkin wrote a weekly column of critical evaluations of jazz recordings. Each illustrated talk is based on a different column, one from each year, with both the actual recordings and live examples played by Dick.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. 7th June 1967: The Man from Defiance (Ohio)

Including Wild Bill Davidson, B. B. King, Reverend Kelsey, Fats Waller, Mississippi John Hurt, Henry Red Allen

2. 10th July 1967: The Great Russell Band

Including Luis Russell, Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Freeman, Cannonball Adderley, The Beatles

3. 8th June 1968: Whose Flaming Youth?

Including Miles Davis, Clarence Williams, Jabbo Smith, Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, Charlie Mingus, Chris McGregor

4. 10th August 1968: The Inimitable Jimmy Yancey

Including Jimmy Yancey, Roosevelt Holts, Jimmy Witherspoon, Forest City Joe, Benny Goodman, Gary Burton, Archie Shepp

5. 8th February 1969: Coverage

Including Willie Smith, Andre Previn, Ian Carr, John Surman, Don Ellis, Gene Krupa, Johnny Dankworth, Ella and Louis

6. 8th November 1969: Ancient and Modern

Including Eddie Condon, Bob Crosby, Albert Ayler, Paul Winter, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Bill Broonzy, Clyde Valley Stompers

7. 14th February 1970: Resurrected Big Bands

Including Kenny Clarke and Francy Boland, Don Ellis, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman

8. 18th April 1970: The Colour of Their Music

Including Art Hodes, George Lewis, Jack Teagarden, Stuff Smith, Duke Ellington, Paul Whiteman, Jack Hylton

9. 15th May 1971: How Things Get Better

Including Ornette Coleman, Louis Armstrong, Gary Burton, Benny Goodman, Harry Roy, Miff Mole, Sophie Tucker

10. 12th June 1971: Voices as Instruments

Including Mills Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Ben Webster, Graham Collier

Teaching method(s)

Lecture and discussion with musical interludes.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Differentiate between objective and subjective musical criticism;

  • Appreciate how mastery of language can be put at the service of music;

  • Appreciate a wide range of styles of jazz.


Core Readings


  • Larkin, Philip. 2004. Jazz Writings London: Continuum.

  • Larkin, Philip, 1985. All What Jazz. London: Faber and Faber.


  • Crow, Bill. 1990. Jazz Anecdotes. Oxford: OUP.

Class Handouts

HTML pages of links sent by email after every session.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.