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The History of Jazz
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About the Author


Ted Gioia is a critic, historian, pianist, composer, and record producer living in Palo Alto, California. He is the author of The Imperfect Art, winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, and West Coast Jazz.

Reviews

Thorough in its criticism as well as its chronology, Gioia's (The Imperfect Art) may be the most comprehensive (and readable) undertaking of jazz scholarship in recent memory. Contrary to pianist Jelly Roll Morton's famous claim that he invented the genre, Gioia traces jazz's origins to the slave dances of early 19th-century New Orleans. In the tradition of Leonard Feather and Nat Hentoff, Gioia considers jazz America's lone indigenous art form, but not without acknowledging the foremost importance of its "Africanization." Gioia documents the genre's evolution from the 19th century to today's hip downtown New York scene. Chapters detail each of the genre's major stylistic shifts, profiling unsung innovators as well as celebrities of each era from Louis Armstrong to Charles Mingus to the Marsalis brothers, Gioia's brief biographies serve to introduce the reader to the musicians' important work. The author's academic approach to Charlie Parker's drug-fueled artistic decline or Bud Powell's mental illness may not satiate fans of celebrity gossip, and the book's appendix of recommended recordings is lacking in sufficiently detailed catalogue information. After (and during) The History of Jazz, readers will surely want to search out more than a performance or two. (Nov.)

if you wanted to introduce someone to jazz with a single book, this would be a good choice. Kirkus Reviews

Beginning with details provided from firsthand accounts of slave dances in the early 19th-century New Orleans, Gioia relates the story of African American music from its roots in Africa to the international respect it enjoys today. Styles that developed in such hotbeds as New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York are considered along with the artists that personify these styles. With the arrival of more white musicians, such as Benny Goodman in the Swing Era, jazz achieved the height of mass popularity. This was quickly followed by the more experimental modern jazz movement, with artists like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie redefining the music and moving beyond entertainment into the realm of "serious" music. This well-researched, extensively annotated volume covers the major trends and personalities that have shaped jazz. The excellent bibliography and list of recommended listening make this a valuable purchase for libraries building a jazz collection.‘Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.

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