The Art of Jazz: Ragtime to Bebop

Overview

When Mikhail Baryshnikov defected to the United States in 1974, he announced that his hero as a dancer was Fred Astaire. Many Americans were surprised that a highly popular figure from the movies could inspire a classically trained European dancer, just as they would be surprised to hear Duke Ellington called a great composer in the same breath with Ravel. But these artists and others, writes Martin Williams, deserve such praise. Twentieth-century America, he argues, has produced a rich and innovative culture ...
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Overview

When Mikhail Baryshnikov defected to the United States in 1974, he announced that his hero as a dancer was Fred Astaire. Many Americans were surprised that a highly popular figure from the movies could inspire a classically trained European dancer, just as they would be surprised to hear Duke Ellington called a great composer in the same breath with Ravel. But these artists and others, writes Martin Williams, deserve such praise. Twentieth-century America, he argues, has produced a rich and innovative culture whose best artists should be a source of national pride. In "Hidden in Plain Sight," acclaimed critic Martin Williams offers an eloquent celebration of the achievements of American culture. Americans, Williams writes, have labored under the sense that the art forms created on our shores are less valid than the traditional art forms of Europe. In these essays, he shows how certain American artists have achieved a range and power of their own. Williams looks at such great, innovative artists as D.W. Griffith and Fred Astaire and shows how they virtually created their own genres of art with a uniquely American outlook and temperament. He offers a brilliant look at Duke Ellington, exploring the range and enormous volume of his work and describing how he worked with his orchestra in the same way great dramatists have worked with actors. Williams looks at comic strips and finds in E. C. Segar's original "Popeye" a perceptive and prophetic comic comment on dictatorship done in 1936. He discusses the aesthetics of TV by looking at "Bullwinkle and Rocky." And he provides revealing accounts of the detective story, the gangster thriller, the radio satire of Fred Allen, and more.

"A brilliant study of the whole of jazz."--Jazz Journal.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306801341
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1988
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: A Matter of Fundamentals 3
2 King Oliver: Father Figure 9
3 Jelly Roll Morton: Three-Minute Form 14
4 Sidney Bechet: First and Last 43
5 Louis Armstrong: Style Beyond Style 48
6 Bix Beiderbecke: The White Man's Burden 6i
7 Coleman Hawkins: Some Comments on a Phoenix 71
8 Billie Holiday: Actress Without an Act 79
9 Art Tatum: Not for the Left Hand Alone 87
10 Duke Ellington: Form Beyond Form 94
11 Count Basie and Lester Young: Style Beyond Swing 115
12 Charlie Parker: The Burden of Innovation 132
13 Thelonious Monk: Modern Jazz in Search of Maturity 150
14 John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet: Modern Conservative 168
15 Sonny Rollins: Spontaneous Orchestration 179
16 Horace Silver: The Meaning of Craftsmanship 190
17 Miles Davis: A Man Walking 198
18 Sarah Vaughan: The Meaning of Self-Discovery 210
19 Bill Evans: A Need to Know 215
20 Charlie Mingus: The Pivotal Instrument 221
21 John Coltrane: A Man in the Middle 227
22 Ornette Coleman: Innovation from the Source 236
23 Eric Dolphy: Step by Step 249
24 World Saxophone Quartet: Four in One 254
25 The Meaning of a Music: An Art for the Century 260
Discographical Notes 269
Index 285
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