Mission statement

The primary objective of the SMT Jazz Interest Group is to promote scholarship in the discipline of jazz theory. This interest group was inaugurated at the 1995 meeting of the Society for Music Theory in New York City.


  • Holds business meetings annually at SMT conferences to discuss the groups activities of the past years, to plan ahead for upcoming meetings and projects, and to provide a forum for symposia, presentations, and group discussions on jazz theory and analysis.
  • Sponsors and presents an annual award for jazz scholarship.
  • Promotes discussion and dissemination of jazz-theory topics throughout our society and discipline.


The Steve Larson Award for Jazz Scholarship

The SMT Jazz Interest Group is currently soliciting nominations for the 2021 Steve Larson Award for Jazz Scholarship. This award acknowledges outstanding contributions to the field of jazz theory and analysis. Eligibility extends to books, chapters from books, articles, delivered conference papers, dissertations, or theses in English (or translated to English) that have been published, presented, or defended since January 1, 2016. A document must be nominated by one member of the Society for Music Theory (self-nominations are permitted), and an SMT member may nominate only one work per calendar year.

Nominations should include (1) the name of the author and that author’s contact information (if known); (2) a description of the document and complete bibliographic information, if applicable; and (3) a statement to the effect that the work was published, presented, or defended within the previous five calendar years. The committee may ask a nominee to submit copies of the nominated document, if needed. Please send nominations to Janna Saslaw by the nomination deadline (to be announced).

Previous Larson Award Winners
  • 2011: Waters, Keith. 2011. The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965–68. Oxford University Press
  • 2012: Steinbeck, Paul. 2011. “Intermusicality, Humor, and Cultural Critique in the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s ‘A Jackson in Your House.’” Jazz Perspectives 5 (2): 135–154.
  • 2013: Martin, Henry. 2012. “Charlie Parker and Honeysuckle Rose: Voice-Leading, Formula, and Motive.Music Theory Online 18 (3).
  • 2014: Arthurs, Daniel. 2011. “Reconstructing Tonal Principles in the Music of Brad Mehldau.” Ph.D. diss., Indiana University.
  • 2015: Givan, Benjamin. 2014. “Gunther Schuller and the Challenge of Sonny Rollins: Stylistic Context, Intentionality, and Jazz Analysis.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 67 (1): 167–237.
  • 2016: Love, Stefan Caris. 2016. “The Jazz Solo as Virtuous Act,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74: 61–74.
  • 2017: Givan, Benjamin. 2016. “Rethinking Interaction in Jazz Improvisation.” Music Theory Online 22 (3).
  • 2018: Steinbeck, Paul. 2017. Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago. University of Chicago Press.
  • 2019: Hannaford, Marc. 2018. “Affordances and Free Improvisation: An Analytical Framework.” Presented at Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, November 2, 2018.
  • 2020: Benadon, Fernando. 2019. "Modern Drum Solos over Ostinatos," in Thoughts and Play in Musical Rhythm: Asian, African, and Euro-American Perspectives, edited by Richard Wolf, Stephen Blum, and Christopher Hasty. New York: Oxford University Press.

Online presence and discussion

Our online discussion group may be found on Humanities Commons. To join, create an account on Humanities Commons and then join at our group page.

How to join

There are no requirements for membership; simply attend our meetings at annual SMT meetings to participate.

Leadership and Contact Info
Chair Garrett Michaelsen



The Jazz Theory Bibliography is a database of jazz-theory scholarship with basic and advanced search capabilities. The bibliography was initially supported in part by a grant from the Music Research Institute of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, but has since moved to its new home at Carleton University. Please send suggestions for additions and corrections using the subject header “Jazz Theory Bibliography” to the editor James McGowan.