Why Jazz Happened

Overview


Why Jazz Happened is a fantastic, eye-opening unfolding of the music and musicians who developed this spell-binding art between World War II and Watergate. Marc Myers shatters myths here, and treats jazz history like an epic saga. I lived and breathed this period during my extensive career in jazz, and this book brings a new perspective to the music's golden era.”—Creed Taylor, multi-Grammy Award–winning jazz producer

"Marc Myers's Why Jazz Happened is the first wide-ranging ...

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Why Jazz Happened

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Overview


Why Jazz Happened is a fantastic, eye-opening unfolding of the music and musicians who developed this spell-binding art between World War II and Watergate. Marc Myers shatters myths here, and treats jazz history like an epic saga. I lived and breathed this period during my extensive career in jazz, and this book brings a new perspective to the music's golden era.”—Creed Taylor, multi-Grammy Award–winning jazz producer

"Marc Myers's Why Jazz Happened is the first wide-ranging social history of jazz, a highly original attempt to portray and understand the music's evolution by looking at it through the prism of non-musical historic events. The result is a book that will shape the way all subsequent commentators think and write about jazz history."—Terry Teachout, author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

“For newcomers to jazz and the global audience for whom this music is a vital part of their lives, Marc Myers has written a deeply illuminating and engaging portrait of the essence of jazz. He writes from the inside of jazz—the experiences of the musicians themselves, on the stand and in their own lives. This book is full of surprises. I lived and wrote during much of this period, but I found here a lot that I didn’t know."—Nat Hentoff, author of At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On February 26, 1917, a group of musicians calling themselves the Original Dixieland Jass Band assembled in the studio of the Victor Talking Machine Company, played two songs into a long metal horn that served as a microphone, and a few weeks later made history by releasing the first 78-rpm recording of jazz. In this energetic and captivating tale, Wall Street Journal music contributor Myers enthusiastically chronicles the many social, political, legal, and monetary forces outside of music that shaped the evolution of jazz. With impeccable timing, Myers provides a steady backbeat of stories of the development of music from bebop, jazz-classical, and West Coast jazz, to spiritual jazz, jazz-pop, and jazz-rock fusion. While jazz could never have developed without the brilliant musicians whose stories he narrates—from Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock—the rise of electronic instruments, the civil rights movement, the advent of musicians’ unions, and new recording technologies catapulted the musical form and its players squarely into the evolving history of American music. In the 1950s, as they discovered that more music was needed to fill the longer format of albums, hard bop musicians began licensing their compositions through BMI, making available a greater percentage of original work on these albums. Myers’s first-rate social history, like a great jazz recording, pulls us into its complex rhythms and harmonies, casting its mesmerizing spell. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
"A highly engaging, thoroughly researched book."--All About Jazz

"'Why Jazz Happened' Makes Its Points Like a Snazzy Lawyer in the Courtroom: Zip, Zam, Zot. . . . Students and fans of jazz will come away enlightened about a huge part of the jazz story that has been mostly untold, before this otherwise intelligent and well-reported book was published."--Popmatters.com

"A needed historical overview. . . . Myers presents his argument of 'why jazz happened' in a concise, powerfully convincing style. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Myers has managed to come up with a fresh take on the [history of jazz's evolution]."--Livelyarts.com

All About Jazz

“A highly engaging, thoroughly researched book.”
Popmatters.com - Will Layman

“’Why Jazz Happened' Makes Its Points Like a Snazzy Lawyer in the Courtroom: Zip, Zam, Zot. . . . Students and fans of jazz will come away enlightened about a huge part of the jazz story that has been mostly untold, before this otherwise intelligent and well-reported book was published.”
Choice - G. A. Akkerman

“A needed historical overview. . . . Myers presents his argument of ‘why jazz happened’ in a concise, powerfully convincing style. . . . Highly recommended.”
LivelyArts.com - Willard Manus

“Myers has managed to come up with a fresh take on the [history of jazz's evolution].”
The New York City Jazz Record

"Excellent new jazz history. . . . A refreshingly concrete volume on a genre that stubbornly, sometimes proudly, refuses to be defined."
Library Journal
Here, jazz critic Myers tells the story of the development of jazz from 1942 to 1972. The author’s focus, in contrast to most jazz history books currently available, is on how sociological phenomena and a variety of complex and intertwined developments in the music industry (e.g., radio, recording companies, the American Federation of Musicians, and performing rights licensing agencies) as well as society as a whole affected and in some cases drove the development of bebop, cool jazz, West Coast jazz, avant-garde jazz, the Afro-centric jazz of the 1960s, and jazz rock. The research is solid, the documentation is strong, the writing style is engaging and readable, and the complex relationships are well developed and explained. Just don’t be fooled by the title: this is not a book about the origins of jazz.

Verdict A thoroughly compelling study of jazz music and the sociological and economic forces essential to the genre’s development from 1942 to 1972. An essential volume for any jazz fan.—James E. Perone, Univ. of Mount Union, Alliance, OH

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520268784
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/10/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 266
  • Sales rank: 543,805
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Marc Myers is a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, where he writes about jazz, rock, soul, and rhythm & blues as well as art and architecture. He blogs daily at www.JazzWax.com, winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's Blog of the Year Award.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Record Giants Blink
2. DJs, Promoters, and Bebop
3. G.I. Bill and Cool
4. Speed War, Tape, and Solos
5. Suburbia and West Coast Jazz
6. BMI, R&B, and Hard Bop
7. Bias, Africa, and Spiritual Jazz
8. Invasion and Jazz-Pop
9. Alienation and the Avant-Garde
1. Lights, Volume, and Fusion
11. Jazz Hangs On
Notes
Index
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