The Oxford Companion to Jazz

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Jazz and its colorful, expansive history resonate in this unique collection of 60 essays specially-commissioned from today's top jazz performers, writers, and scholars. Contributors include such jazz insiders as Bill Crow, Samuel A. Floyd Jr., Ted Gioia, Gene Lees, Dan Morgenstern, Gunther Schuller, Richard M. Sudhalter, and Patricia Willard. Both a reference book and an engaging read, the Companion surveys the evolution of jazz from its roots in Africa and Europe until the present. Along the way, each distinctive style and period is profiled by an expert in the field. Whether your preference is ragtime, the blues, bebop, or fusion, you will find the chief characteristics and memorable performances illuminated here with a thoroughness found in no other single-volume jazz reference.

The Oxford Companion to Jazz features individual biographies of the most memorable characters of this relatively young art form. Sidney Bechet, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, and the divas of jazz song--Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan--come to life in thoughtful considerations of their influences, often turbulent personal lives, and signature styles. In addition, this book looks at the impact of jazz on American culture-in literature, film, television, and dance-and explores the essential instruments of jazz and their most memorable players.

The Oxford Companion to Jazz will provide a quick reference source as well as a dynamic and broad overview for all lovers of jazz, from novices to aficionados.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For this chronological guide, Oxford commissioned 61 incredibly diverse critics and scholars to expound on such topics as jazz genres/styles, the blues' influence on jazz, significant time periods, major innovators and stylists, individual instruments, jazz criticism, jazz and American literature, jazz education, and jazz in film and television. Much of the material is descriptive, and only the last chapter is devoted to the process of playing and improvising--which is odd, considering improvisation's importance. Kirchner (jazz and history, New School Univ.) should have devoted more coverage to the formal aspects of creating jazz because new listeners often have no conception of what is involved in improvisation. Except for Patricia Willard's entry on vocalists Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughn, women's contributions are unfortunately slighted. The book would have also benefited from a list of references and featured songs at the end of each chapter. Despite these drawbacks, this work is an effective single-volume device, leading current listeners to the music while including enough newer scholarship to retain the interest of connoisseurs. Recommended for academic, public, and music libraries.--William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
...provides a look at at jazz from different angles in history and place, and from the perspective of listener, musician, educator, writer and record producer. Essays cover major historical trends and figures, discuss jazz in different countries, review the role of most instruments and consider the place of jazz in other arts, like dance, literature and film. Despite the wide range, the focus is clear -- the unique American sound of jazz and those giants most closely associated with its creation and production. The major figures dominate the book, sometimes squeezing space away from lesser but still influential figures. But hearing repeatedly about the same musicians will not be a problem for readers who want only to dip into this book occasionally, which is how it should be read, and they will appreciate seeing old friends, like Satchmo and Yardbird, again and again.
New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher

"Despite the wide range, the focus is clear--the unique American sound of jazz and those giants most closely associated with its creation and production."--Jeff Waggoner, The New York Times Book Review

"This book contains a collection of some of the very best writing available concerning jazz."--Lee Bash, Jazz Educators Journal

"A milestone among publications dedicated to jazz."--Francesco Martinelli, Musica Jazz (Italy)

"More than a treatise on jazz, this book is a compilation of articles on all phases of the music, contributed by musicians and professional writers who speak for the art firsthand. Highly recommended for everyone interested in jazz."--the late Benny Carter

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195183597
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/14/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 864
  • Sales rank: 705,817
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Kirchner is a composer-arranger, saxophonist, jazz historian, record and radio producer, educator, and leader of the Bill Kirchner Nonet. He has won both Grammy and NAIRD Indie awards, and he teaches jazz composition and jazz history at the New School University, the Manhattan School of Music, and New Jersey City University.

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Table of Contents

African roots of jazz 7
European roots of jazz 17
Ragtime then and now 29
The early origins of jazz 39
New York roots : black Broadway, James Reese Europe, early pianists 53
The blues in jazz 64
Bessie Smith 78
King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sidney Bechet : Menage a Trois, New Orleans style 88
Louis Armstrong 102
Bix Beiderbecke 122
Duke Ellington 132
Hot music in the 1920s : the "jazz age," appearances and realities 148
Pianists of the 1920s and 1930s 163
Coleman Hawkins 177
Lester Young 191
Streamlining jazz : major soloists in the 1930s and 1940s 206
Jazz singing : between blues and bebop 220
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday 235
Jazz and the American song 250
Pre-swing era big bands and jazz composing and arranging 264
Swing era big bands and jazz composing and arranging 277
The advent of bebop 292
The New Orleans revival 305
Charlie Parker 316
Cool jazz and West Coast jazz 332
Jazz and classical music : to the third stream and beyond 343
Pianists of the 1940s and 1950s 357
Hard Bop 373
Miles Davis 389
Big bands and jazz composing and arranging after World War II 403
Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus 418
John Coltrane 432
The avant-garde, 1949-1967 446
Pianists of the 1960s and 1970s 459
Jazz singing since the 1940s 473
Jazz since 1968 488
Fusion 502
Jazz repertory 512
Latin jazz 522
Jazz in Europe : the real world music ... or the full circle 534
Jazz and Brazilian music 548
Jazz in Africa : the ins and outs 559
Jazz in Japan 566
Jazz in Canada and Australia 575
The clarinet in jazz 583
The saxophone in jazz 597
The trumpet in jazz 613
The trombone in jazz 628
The electric guitar and vibraphone in jazz : batteries not included 642
Miscellaneous instruments in jazz 653
The bass in jazz 668
Jazz drumming 681
Jazz and dance 696
Jazz and film and television 706
Jazz clubs 722
Jazz and American literature 734
Jazz criticism 745
Jazz education 756
Recorded jazz 766
Jazz improvisation and concepts of virtuosity 788
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