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The Oxford Companion to Jazz

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About the Author

Bill Kirchner is a composer-arranger, saxophonist, jazz historian, record and radio producer, educator, and leader of the Bill Kirchner Nonet. He has won both Grammy and NAIRD Indie awards, and he teaches jazz composition and jazz history at the New School University, the Manhattan School of Music, and New Jersey City University.


For this chronological guide, Oxford commissioned 61 incredibly diverse critics and scholars to expound on such topics as jazz genres/styles, the blues' influence on jazz, significant time periods, major innovators and stylists, individual instruments, jazz criticism, jazz and American literature, jazz education, and jazz in film and television. Much of the material is descriptive, and only the last chapter is devoted to the process of playing and improvisingDwhich is odd, considering improvisation's importance. Kirchner (jazz and history, New School Univ.) should have devoted more coverage to the formal aspects of creating jazz because new listeners often have no conception of what is involved in improvisation. Except for Patricia Willard's entry on vocalists Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughn, women's contributions are unfortunately slighted. The book would have also benefited from a list of references and featured songs at the end of each chapter. Despite these drawbacks, this work is an effective single-volume device, leading current listeners to the music while including enough newer scholarship to retain the interest of connoisseurs. Recommended for academic, public, and music libraries.DWilliam G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"The Oxford Companion to Jazz probes every aspect of the music, from the rhythmic virtuosity of ragtime and stride piano, to the transformation of jazz from music for happy feet to cerebral bebop for the mind.... Like jazz itself, The Oxford Companion to Jazz marries form and imagination."-John Mark Eberhart, The Kansas City Star "An ambitious panorama of genres, biographies and analyses.... A durable addition to the literature of music...these essays should lead to an irresistible urge to hear more."-Nat Hentoff, Los Angeles Times Book Review "This work is an effective single-volume device, leading current listeners to the music while including enough newer scholarship to retain the interest of connoisseurs."-Library Journal "No book on jazz has ever attempted the scope of this monumental collection of 60 studies by 59 writers. Commissioned and organized by editor Bill Kirchner into an interlocking mosaic, its 800 pages examine and evaluate every aspect of the origins, ongoing development, and offshoots of jazz-and its myriad personalities-to a degree which makes this the one indispensable publication in the field. The Oxford Companion to Jazz is both a reference work for the serious scholar and a rewarding book to be dipped into by the casual reader"-George Avakian "More than a treatise on jazz, this book is a compilation of articles on all phases of the music, contributed by musicians and professional writers who speak for the art firsthand. Highly recommended for everyone interested in jazz."-Benny Carter "This is an effective single-volume device, leading current listeners to the music while including enough newer scholarship to retain the interest of connoisseurs."-Library Journal "Kirchner managed to enlist many of the finest writers in the field to contribute to this volume.... The joy of reading this book comes from the authoritative essays by major writers-Dan Morgenstern, John McDonough, Gunther Schulluer, Mark Tucker, Scott DeVeaux, to mention just a representative handful.... For all serious jazz collections, both general and academic.-Choice "Probably the most effective historical panorama to date"-Richard Sudhalter, Commentary "Despite the wide range, the focus is clear-the unique American sound of jazz and those giants most closely associated with its creation and production."-Jeff Waggoner, The New York Times Book Review "A milestone among publications dedicated to jazz." -Francesco Martinelli, Musica Jazz (Italy) "This book contains a collection of some of the very best writing available concerning jazz."-Dr. Lee Bash, Jazz Educators Journal

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