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Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century
     

Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century

by Gary Giddins
 

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Gary Giddins's magnificent book Visions of Jazz has been hailed as a landmark in music criticism. Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post called it "the definitive compendium by the most interesting jazz critic now at work." And Alfred Appel, Jr., in The New York Times Book Review, said it was "the finest unconventional history of jazz ever

Overview

Gary Giddins's magnificent book Visions of Jazz has been hailed as a landmark in music criticism. Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post called it "the definitive compendium by the most interesting jazz critic now at work." And Alfred Appel, Jr., in The New York Times Book Review, said it was "the finest unconventional history of jazz ever written." It was the first work on jazz ever to win the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

Now comes Weather Bird, a brilliant companion volume to Visions of Jazz. In this superb collection of essays, reviews and articles, Giddins brings together, for the first time, more than 140 pieces written over a 14-year period, most of them for his column in the Village Voice (also called "Weather Bird"). The book is first and foremost a celebration of jazz, with illuminating commentary on contemporary jazz events, on today's top musicians, on the best records of the year, and on leading figures from jazz's past. Readers will find extended pieces on Louis Armstrong, Erroll Garner, Benny Carter, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman, Billie Holiday, Cassandra Wilson, Tony Bennett, and many others. Giddins includes a series of articles on the annual JVC Jazz Festival, which taken together offer a splendid overview of jazz in the 1990s. Other highlights include an astute look at avant-garde music ("Parajazz") and his challenging essay, "How Come Jazz Isn't Dead?" which advances a theory about the way art is born, exploited, celebrated, and sidelined to the museum.

A radiant compendium by America's leading music critic, Weather Bird offers an unforgettable look at the modern jazz scene.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Giddins's "Weather Bird" column was a regular feature of the Village Voice for 30 years. This book collects more than 140 essays, articles, and reviews that Giddins wrote from 1990 to November 2003, mostly for the Voice. The breadth and depth of his knowledge is extremely impressive, his ear is astounding, and his masterly style routinely achieves the near impossible in writing engagingly about something that inherently eludes description. For instance, in reading the delightful and seemingly nonsensical "If Ornette Coleman Were Jim Hall, He Would Be Joe Morris," a fan immediately begins to approximate in the mind's ear what Joe Morris might sound like. The book stands on its own, but taken with Giddins's acclaimed Visions of Jazz: The First Century, it affords the reader a highly accessible, personal, and perceptive portrait of the development of jazz and its towering figures (and some lesser-known but significant talents), from its beginnings to the present. Jazz fans will head back to their collections for another listen to classic albums and to the record bins to seek out music they've overlooked. For all libraries and essential for music collections.-Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"There is an indescribable joy in finding writers who not only know how to cleverly turn a phrase, but who truly understand how to imbue their writing with personality, life and a personal perspective that makes a reader want to keep coming back for more. Jazz writer Gary Giddins is such writer.... From Louis Armstrong to The Bad Plus, from Dave Holland to Dave Douglas, from Sonny Rollins to David S. Ware and Charlie Christian to Charles Mingus, Weather Bird is about as comprehensive a critical look at jazz as one can find in 600 pages."—John Kelman, allaboutjazz.com

"Giddins has been recognized as the Duke, the Count, the Earl of jazz writers.... No one puts it together like Giddins, whose writing is an unmatched combination of big ideas, witty wordsmithery, historical insight, and musicological know-how.... Thumbing through 'Weather Bird' is like listening to some of your old favorites—and being astonished as you still hear new things.... Giddins has set the bar for jazz scholarship so high no one is likely to top it.... His jazz column was a thing to be treasured—as is this collection."—Will Friedwald, New York Sun

"When it comes to selling the music he loves, he's a gifted evangelist. That's no small thing."—JazzTimes

"A hefty but absorbing collection of the ex-Village Voice critic's recent jazz criticism. As a dilettante jazz listener, I learned something from every paragraph."—Alex Ross, therestisnoise.com

"Giddins is opinionated but generous, with the laudable ability to capture the essence of a performer's style in vibrant language that makes the music described seem almost audible."—Publishers Weekly

"The breadth and depth of Giddins's knowledge is extremely impressive, his ear is astounding, and his masterly style routinely achieves the near impossible in writing engagingly about something that inherently eludes description.... The book stands on its own, but taken with Giddins's acclaimed Visions of Jazz: The First Century, it affords the reader a highly accessible, personal, and perceptive portrait of the development of jazz and its towering figures (and some lesser-known but significant talents), from its beginnings to the present."—Library Journal

"Giddins has a voice. It's full of bold assertions and blunt putdowns. He loves the music to death—that feeling oozes through these 600-plus pages, though Giddins balances emotion with intellect, as does jazz itself. He's a scholarly fanatic, obsessing on the music endlessly, at times comically, fusing a school kid's ebullience to dissertation-like detail. He seems to work as hard at understanding the music as musicians do at mastering jazz's labyrinthine systems."—San Jose Mercury News

"Giddins' insights are so compelling and his writing so crisp that matters like past, present and future become moot.... Like so many of the virtuosos he writes about, Giddins has an explosive way of expressing ideas, sometimes complex ones."—David Rubien, San Francisco Chronicle

"Giddins has probably become the standard by which all other jazz writers and critics have to be judged.... The second volume of Giddins' extraordinary work confirms fully that he was probably the greatest regularly appearing working critic of the music in its history."—The Buffalo News

"Giddins can be read for the sheer pleasure of watching him surround music with language. He's passionate and erudite, a marvelous historian, and always a splendid companion — an essayist in the disguise of a critic." —Jonathan Lethem, author of The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn

"Gary Giddins is probably the best, most acute, most sheerly explanatory critic of jazz music ever born. These generous, thoughtful essays from the Village Voice and elsewhere resound with the sense of discoveries made during the act of writing." —Peter Straub

"Anyone interested in the artistry and importance of jazz should read this book. Anyone interested in the history of our culture should read this book. Gary Giddins eloquently deciphers the mysteries of jazz in Weather Bird. I was enterained by every page. I learned something and was inspired by every page." —Michael Connelly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195304497
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/31/2006
Pages:
656
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Gary Giddins wrote the Village Voice's "Weather Bird" column for 30 years. His eight books and three documentary films have garnered unparalleled recognition for jazz, including a National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, two Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards, five ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards, a Peabody, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He received national attention for his commentary in Ken Burns's Jazz. He lives in New York City.

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