The Jazz Scene

Overview

From 1955-65 the historian Eric Hobsbawm took the pseudonym 'Francis Newton' and wrote a monthly column for the New Statesman on jazz - music he had loved ever since discovering it as a boy in 1933 ('the year Adolf Hitler took power in Germany'). Hobsbawm's column led to his writing a critical history, The Jazz Scene (1959). This enhanced edition from 1993 adds later writings by Hobsbawm in which he meditates further 'on why jazz is not only a marvellous noise but a central concern for anyone concerned with ...

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The Jazz Scene

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Overview

From 1955-65 the historian Eric Hobsbawm took the pseudonym 'Francis Newton' and wrote a monthly column for the New Statesman on jazz - music he had loved ever since discovering it as a boy in 1933 ('the year Adolf Hitler took power in Germany'). Hobsbawm's column led to his writing a critical history, The Jazz Scene (1959). This enhanced edition from 1993 adds later writings by Hobsbawm in which he meditates further 'on why jazz is not only a marvellous noise but a central concern for anyone concerned with twentieth-century society and the twentieth-century arts.'

'All the greats are covered in passing (Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday), while further space is given to Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, and Sidney Bechet ... Perhaps Hobsbawm's tastiest comments are about the business side and work ethics, where his historian's eye strips the jazz scene down to its commercial spine.' Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
English historian Hobsbawn ( The Age of Empire ) started writing about jazz for the New Statesman in the 1950s under the pseudonym Francis Newton, and most of the essays in this volume were originally published in the U.S. between 1959 and 1961. The body of this valuable study consists of an overview of the history, music, business and people of jazz. Older sections are left untouched (at one point the author notes that readers will need a gramophone to appreciate his advice on listening to jazz fully), but the introductions--one dated 1989 for the most recent British edition and one written for the first U.S. publication--are helpful. From them it is obvious that time hasn't dampened Hobsbawn's enthusiasm for what he calls ``one of the most remarkable cultural phenomena of our century.'' In addition to the articles from the New Statesman , pieces from the New York Review of Books, written in the late 1980s, are also included in this love song from a dedicated fan. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Written by noted historian Hobsbawm early in his career, this book was originally published in Britain in 1959. At the time it was an excellent complement to Marshall Stearn's standard, The Story of Jazz (1957), providing the first social history of jazz from a British perspective. A brief history of jazz through the 1950s, it dealt with the music business, included a still-interesting section on jazz fans, and ended with an essay about jazz as protest. This new edition, the first published in the United States, contains 23 brief essays Hobsbawm wrote during the late Fifties, early Sixties, and mid-Eighties. It also features two provocative introductions to jazz written during the last 30 years. Although most of the text is somewhat outdated, the book can be recommended for large jazz history collections because of its useful perspective.-- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780571320103
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 11/28/2014
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Abbreviations and Technical Terms
A Note on the Old Money
Introduction to the 1993 Edition
Introduction to the 1989 Edition
Introduction
How to Recognize Jazz
Pt. 1 History
1 Prehistory 3
2 Expansion 17
3 Transformation 40
Pt. 2 Music
4 Blues and Orchestral Jazz 61
5 The Instruments 90
6 The Musical Achievement 107
7 Jazz and the Other Arts 119
Pt. 3 Business
8 The Jazz Business 137
Pt. 4 People
9 The Musicians 165
10 The Public 194
11 Jazz as a Protest 229
Pt. 5 Selections from Writings for The New Statesman and The New York Review of Books
12 From The New Statesman, 1958-1965 251
13 From The New York Review of Books, 1986-1989 291
Appendix One: The British Jazz Fan, 1958 347
Appendix Two: Jazz Language 352
Guide to Further Reading, 1993 359
Notes 362
Index 373
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