New History of Jazz

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Overview

The March 1913 issue of the San Francisco Bulletin coined the term "jazz" - using it to describe a dance music full of vigor and "pep." Over time, jazz became the word used to describe the syncopated bands that became popular in New Orleans at the turban of the twentieth century, playing a fiery mix of African and European music that then became popular in Chicago and New York and, finally, the world over. It wasn't long before the Roaring 1920s became known as "the Jazz Age," forever attaching the music form to decadence, booze, sex, and dancing.In his mammoth book A New History of Jazz, BBC presenter and London Times jazz critic Alyn Shipton investigates how jazz first started - examining the precursors of the music, identifying the difficulties in mapping out its history, and challenging the traditional views of its development. More than just a rote narrative, A New History of Jazz provides critical analysis of the jazz history that has been "written" among both academics and musicians over the last century. Shipton argues that the music's history is so characterized by underground clubs, regional styles, and the "fringe" element in general that previous attempts at tracing its routes have failed to grasp the big picture. He even questions the possibility of creating a universally applicable definition of jazz. Shipton also explores how different things contributed to the modern notions of jazz music. He examines how the development of sound recordings, instrumental innovations, and new methods of music publishing took the art form from its bayou routes to different urban areas around the country, and finally beyond the borders of the United States. A New History of Jazz further examines how the network of theaters, concert halls, and performances that sprang up all over the United States in the twentieth century contributed to the spread of the music's popularity and the different styles that have developed over the years. Leaving no stone unturbaned, Shipton's history of jazz is as sweeping as it is personal. This is the book that jazz aficionados have been waiting for, as well as an excellent primer for the casual fan.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this monumental study, Shipton (Groovin' High), who presents jazz programs for the BBC, covers what he believes to be the most significant musical form to emerge during the 20th century. The book delves deeply into all aspects of the music, from boogie-woogie, big bands and bebop to the experiments of the postmodern era. The author's emphasis on jazz as an international phenomenon, even though it originated in the U.S., sets the book apart from other histories, as does his examination of the politicization of this music in the 1960s through organizations such as the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Black Artists' Group in St. Louis. Coltrane, Mingus and Ornette Coleman receive special attention, but Shipton doesn't concentrate on superstars, and these are only a few among the multitude of musicians he discusses. His observations on style are succinct and evocative: Ben Webster's saxophone playing has "the slightly sinister feeling that violence might erupt any moment"; the "tremendous press-roll" of Art Blakey's drumming hauls "players from one chorus to the next with unfettered power." Throughout, Shipton stresses the importance of the recording industry, which early on helped spread the form to young musicians beyond the big centers of New Orleans, Chicago and New York, and has facilitated communication between jazz musicians. This comprehensive book, with its wealth of information presented in a nontechnical style accessible to the general reader, is a major contribution to the literature of jazz. 100 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In this unusually thoughtful and comprehensive history, Shipton, a BBC announcer and a critic for the Times, uncovers and explores a broader spectrum of jazz developments in addition to tackling commonly accepted stereotypes and myths. Things weren't as neat and tidy as previous jazz writers would have you believe. It's accepted as fact, for example, that jazz was born in New Orleans, moved north to Chicago, then east to the Big Apple. Shipton, however, illustrates that there was much more interplay among musicians, that word and note did not spread in any one direction. The author also shatters the creation myth of bebop: it was, he convincingly argues, the work of small bands playing night after night not the result of after-hour jams, which were open to more or less anyone. Shipton also points out how strongly jazz was grasped by musicians in Europe, the Far East, and Latin America, and the book is worth purchasing for these sections alone (Gary Giddins's Visions of Jazz, LJ 8/98, failed to investigate this phenomenon). The inclusion of post-late 1950s jazz genres, including free improvisation, are also treated with the respect that they deserve. Highly recommended for all libraries. (Index and bibliography not seen.) [Columbia Records will release the two-CD set, Jazz, the Definitive Performances, as a tie-in with this book. Ed.] William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
A history of jazz music in the United States and abroad that focuses significantly on the personalities who were behind the creation of the music. Shipton (music critic for (London)) avoids technical musicologist jargon in his enthusiastic descriptions of compositions and musicians. From the antecedents of the music gathering in New Orleans to the followers of Ornette Coleman's school of "Harmolodics," all of the major players are discussed and their styles and innovations are put in context. Of particular note is discussion of jazz as it played out in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere, a story often neglected in histories of the music. Not infrequent reference is made to a CD from Columbia records () and when a song on the CD is being discussed, the track title and number is listed. Containing only 33 songs, the CD seems more of an afterthought than a true companion to the book. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826473806
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 3/30/2004
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 965
  • Product dimensions: 6.64 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 2.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Alyn Shipton presents jazz radio programs for the BBC and is a critic for The Times in London. He is the author of several books on music, as well as a music publisher and editor. He divides his time between Oxford and the French countryside. In 2010, he was voted UK Jazz Broadcaster of the Year.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgement
Introduction: Rethinking Jazz History 1
Pt. I Origins
1 Precursors 15
2 Classic Jazz 72
3 Piano Jazz: Stride and Boogie-Woogie 169
4 The Rise of the Big Bands 201
5 International Jazz to World War II 358
Pt. II From Swing to Bop
6 Small Groups in Transition 403
7 The Birth of Bebop 437
8 Big-Band Bebop 512
9 Dissemination 545
10 Jazz Singing to 1950 572
11 The New Orleans Revival and Mainstream Jazz 607
Pt. III Consolidation of Bebop
12 Early Miles Davis 643
13 Hard Bop and Soul-Jazz 667
14 Cool Jazz and the West Coast Movement 690
15 Big Bands in Transition 717
Pt. IV New Jazz
16 Coltrane and Mingus 739
17 Free Jazz: Ornette Coleman and the "New Thing" 773
18 Politicization: The AACM and Other Organizations 803
19 Jazz as World Music 830
20 Jazz Fusions 850
21 Postmodern Jazz 873
Notes 888
Bibliography 931
General Index 941
Index of Titles 963
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