What Jazz Is: An Insider's Guide to Understanding and Listening to Jazz

What Jazz Is: An Insider's Guide to Understanding and Listening to Jazz

by Jonny King
     
 

"You have to talk about how jazz is like a language. Musical improvisation can put people at a distance, primarily because of jazz's limited exposure. When people realize that everyone who creates a sentence is improvising within basic rules, making statements up spontaneously, the music begins to make more sense." –Jonny King

Imagine you are in the

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Overview

"You have to talk about how jazz is like a language. Musical improvisation can put people at a distance, primarily because of jazz's limited exposure. When people realize that everyone who creates a sentence is improvising within basic rules, making statements up spontaneously, the music begins to make more sense." –Jonny King

Imagine you are in the audience of a jazz club. The piano player invites you up on stage to meet the musicians after the set is finished. You listen to them talkabout the tempo of the last tune, the order of songs for their next set, and the different jazz greats they admire.

What Jazz Is gives you the experience of "being there" as Jonny King takes you on stage and into the core of modern jazz. From the unique perspective of a professional jazz pianist, King explores the basic elements and language of jazz. He explains each instrument's role in locking in the tempo, establishing the harmony, and stating the melody, and he reveals the order and logic behind the seeming randomness of improvisation. Along the way, he celebrates the distinctive playing styles of such classic jazz artists as Art Blakey, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk, as well as his contemporaries, such as Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride, and Joshua Redman. Whether you are about to attend a jazz club for the first time or buy your umpteenth CD, your listening experience will be enhanced by reading this eloquent and passionate account of how jazz works and why it sizzles!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A jazz pianist from the age of nine, King offers genre neophytes an introductory text worthy of such players as Hank Mobley and Herbie Hancock, just two of many musicians he cites throughout. If chapters that define ideas such as improvisation and swing at first seem rudimentary to more seasoned enthusiasts, King's tactics remain instructive to the lay fan. The author's defining belief is that an educated listener makes for a more appreciative, active listener. For a good third of the book, he examines a handful of recordings he believes demonstrate the genre's key ingredients. Rather than inundate his prospective jazz fan with exclusive hipster jargon, King relates his ideas in an easy, friendly prose style not unlike that of one of the most respected jazz writers of an earlier generationNat Hentoff. Whereas Hentoff preferred to focus on the genre's more colorful personalities, King focuses on the music and its relationship to the audiences. The fan with more than a passing knowledge of legendary performers or music theory may choose to invest in another book, but for curious beginners this is an excellent introduction to the often confounding world of jazz. (July)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802713285
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
06/01/1997
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.77(d)
Lexile:
1290L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Jonny King has played jazz piano since he was nine. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America, and Downbeat magazine described him as "One of the strongest piano voices of the new generation." His three albums include Notes from the Underground and The Meltdown. King is also an attorney specializing in copyright law. He lives in New York City.

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