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This chapter brings the practical analyses of the Grateful Dead’s improvisational practice into dialogue with research into musical improvisation, discussing both specifically Grateful Dead related research by, for example, David Malvinni and Graeme Boone, and broader musicological research, including discussions of work by Bruno Nettl, Mike Heffley, and Ekkehard Jost. The chapter argues that Jost’s approach to analysis of idiosyncratic free jazz performers such as Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coltrane provides the best model for understanding the Grateful Dead’s practice.

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