From Publishers Weekly
In this monumental study, Shipton (Groovin' High), who presents jazz programs for the BBC, covers what he believes to be the most significant musical form to emerge during the 20th century. The book delves deeply into all aspects of the music, from boogie-woogie, big bands and bebop to the experiments of the postmodern era. The author's emphasis on jazz as an international phenomenon, even though it originated in the U.S., sets the book apart from other histories, as does his examination of the politicization of this music in the 1960s through organizations such as the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Black Artists' Group in St. Louis. Coltrane, Mingus and Ornette Coleman receive special attention, but Shipton doesn't concentrate on superstars, and these are only a few among the multitude of musicians he discusses. His observations on style are succinct and evocative: Ben Webster's saxophone playing has "the slightly sinister feeling that violence might erupt any moment"; the "tremendous press-roll" of Art Blakey's drumming hauls "players from one chorus to the next with unfettered power." Throughout, Shipton stresses the importance of the recording industry, which early on helped spread the form to young musicians beyond the big centers of New Orleans, Chicago and New York, and has facilitated communication between jazz musicians. This comprehensive book, with its wealth of information presented in a nontechnical style accessible to the general reader, is a major contribution to the literature of jazz. 100 b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In this unusually thoughtful and comprehensive history, Shipton, a BBC announcer and a critic for the Times, uncovers and explores a broader spectrum of jazz developments in addition to tackling commonly accepted stereotypes and myths. Things weren't as neat and tidy as previous jazz writers would have you believe. It's accepted as fact, for example, that jazz was born in New Orleans, moved north to Chicago, then east to the Big Apple. Shipton, however, illustrates that there was much more interplay among musicians, that word and note did not spread in any one direction. The author also shatters the creation myth of bebop: it was, he convincingly argues, the work of small bands playing night after night not the result of after-hour jams, which were open to more or less anyone. Shipton also points out how strongly jazz was grasped by musicians in Europe, the Far East, and Latin America, and the book is worth purchasing for these sections alone (Gary Giddins's Visions of Jazz, LJ 8/98, failed to investigate this phenomenon). The inclusion of post-late 1950s jazz genres, including free improvisation, are also treated with the respect that they deserve. Highly recommended for all libraries. (Index and bibliography not seen.) [Columbia Records will release the two-CD set, Jazz, the Definitive Performances, as a tie-in with this book. Ed.] William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhea.- William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.