The Case of the Mysterious Cornetist

From here, it's a long way to the jazz joints of New York and the art form's birthplaces, like New Orleans and Kansas City. Here at Concord College, on a damp, green ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, Gary Westbrook doesn't exactly resemble a ghost of Dixieland as he peers at a laptop computer. A sequence of contorted lines shudders across the screen. "It's all in the tone," he says.

Mr. Westbrook and a colleague, Tom Smith, say that in readouts like these are the solutions to