(b Breslau [now Wrocław], 22 Jan 1938). German musicologist and baritone saxophonist. While at the University of Hamburg, where he gained the PhD in 1966 with a dissertation on the acoustic and psychometric properties of the clarinet, he became involved with the emerging European free jazz movement and eventually performed with leading musicians such as the saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and the drummer Tony Oxley. As a research assistant at the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, Berlin (1966–72), he worked variously in acoustics, the psychology and sociology of music, and jazz. Since 1973 he has been professor of systematic musicology and head of the musicology department at the University of Giessen. He continues to perform avant-garde jazz, an activity that informs his musicological work.
Jost is the author of numerous articles and several books, of which the most significant is Free Jazz. Proceeding from the premise that free jazz is a freedom from thoughtless convention rather than an invitation to chaos, he analyses the music’s overriding stylistic principles and differentiates between the approaches of its leading practitioners (who include John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor). Jost’s cohesive and penetrating stylistic survey has few parallels in jazz literature.