Jazz

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Overview

A vivid history of jazz in a classroom text by two exceptional authors—a leading scholar and a respected critic.

Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux write with intellectual bite, eloquence, and the passion of unabashed fans. They explain what jazz is, where it came from, how it works, and who created it, all within the broader context of American life and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Marc Mannino
“Jazz is a very detailed, very well-written book with great photographs. The students will be attracted to it and I’ve adopted it starting this summer.”
Marc Mannino
Jazz is a very detailed, very well-written book with great photographs. The students will be attracted to it and I’ve adopted it starting this summer.”
Publishers Weekly
The difficulties of writing cogently about jazz—of discerning musical regularities in a genre built around improvisatory jams, and a narrative thread that transcends haphazard biography—are admirably addressed in this history. Critic Giddins (Bing Crosby) and historian DeVeaux (The Birth of Bebop) have an easier task in the book's first half, which traces jazz's coalescence in New Orleans out of varied strands of black music, its shaping by Armstrong, Ellington and other giants and its efflorescence in the big band era as the soundtrack of the American century. The tune grows unavoidably less catchy as postwar bebop and successor avant-garde tendencies transform jazz into a “self-conscious art music” epitomized by John Coltrane's “existential squawk.” (The authors maintain a cordial respect for every strain of modern jazz except Kenny G: “There are many things to dislike about smooth jazz—for example, everything,” they sputter.) The multimedia work contains moment-by-moment exegeses of classic recordings (“2:13: [Artie] Shaw's line climaxes on a dramatic high note”) that readers can find on the publisher's Web site, along with study aids. The authors' fluent, engaging treatment mixes scholarly lore and sociocultural analysis with piquant character studies and rapt evocations of musical artistry; the result is a treasure-trove for fans and students alike. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Jazz studies usually focus on facts and figures or appreciation and interpretation. This new work skillfully blends both approaches in a deeply informed and analytical way that is clear for beginners yet not condescending to aficionados. DeVeaux's (jazz history, Univ. of Virginia; The Birth of Bebop) scholarly knowledge blends evenly with Giddins's (Visions of Jazz) skills as a reviewer, though this highly accessible history and appreciation could use more of Giddins's natural style and a less scholarly tone. The book contains 78 listening guides written with "mostly nonmusicological descriptions," unlike many guides that provide musical transcriptions without descriptive accompaniment. The songs in question are available on a four-CD set that can be ordered separately; as several of these songs are hard to find, the CDs should have accompanied the book, however much that might have increased the price. VERDICT This can and will be used successfully as a textbook and, as such, is less for the casual listener than anyone seriously interested in exploring jazz. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09.]—Peter Thornell, Hingham P.L., MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393978803
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/19/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 619
  • Sales rank: 63,689
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott DeVeaux is a nationally recognized jazz scholar whose 1997 book The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History won the American Book Award, an ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award, the Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society, and the ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Sound Research. He has taught jazz history at the University of Virginia for over twenty-five years.

Gary Giddins is a long-time columnist for the Village Voice and a preeminent jazz critic who received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, and the Bell Atlantic Award for Visions of Jazz: The First Century in 1998. His other books include Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903–1940, which won the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award and the ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Sound Research; Weatherbird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century; Faces in the Crowd; Natural Selection, Warning Shadows; and biographies of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. He has won an unparalleled six ASCAP–Deems Taylor Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Peabody Award in Broadcasting.

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