Overview

Why Jazz Happened is the first comprehensive social history of jazz. It provides an intimate and compelling look at the many forces that shaped this most American of art forms and the many influences that gave rise to jazz’s post-war styles. Rich with the voices of musicians, producers, promoters, and others on the scene during the decades following World War II, this book views jazz’s evolution through the prism of technological advances, ...
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Why Jazz Happened

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Overview

Why Jazz Happened is the first comprehensive social history of jazz. It provides an intimate and compelling look at the many forces that shaped this most American of art forms and the many influences that gave rise to jazz’s post-war styles. Rich with the voices of musicians, producers, promoters, and others on the scene during the decades following World War II, this book views jazz’s evolution through the prism of technological advances, social transformations, changes in the law, economic trends, and much more.

In an absorbing narrative enlivened by the commentary of key personalities, Marc Myers describes the myriad of events and trends that affected the music's evolution, among them, the American Federation of Musicians strike in the early 1940s, changes in radio and concert-promotion, the introduction of the long-playing record, the suburbanization of Los Angeles, the Civil Rights movement, the "British invasion" and the rise of electronic instruments. This groundbreaking book deepens our appreciation of this music by identifying many of the developments outside of jazz itself that contributed most to its texture, complexity, and growth.


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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: 9780520953987
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/10/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 266
  • Sales rank: 774,990
  • File size: 395 KB

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 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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