This chapter describes how the men and women who make jazz are just like everyone else in a number of ways, and how they form a group apart—no matter how varied their individual humanity. Sociologist-jazz pianist Howard Becker examined what type of group this is and in what ways and for what reasons they were “apart.” Becker's basic insight, which stemmed from his own experience as a participant and observer in the field, is that while jazz musicians by and large, and with good reason, tend to think of themselves as artists, they belong functionally to a “service occupation.” Perhaps the situation that Becker describes did not—or does not, or need not—always prevail, and certainly the nature of the lives that jazz musicians lead depends on a good many other things as well.
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