Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
on August 9, 2002
a new history of JAZZ - Alyn Shipton
Continuum - London - New York
Let me put it straight right away : this is a great book and should be in every true jazz lover's library. This book tells you so much about our music that it leaves nearly every history on jazz ever written far behind. Not only it contains a lot of details on the musicians and the music, it is written in such a way it makes you eager to go out looking for the music it talks about. By the way there is a doubble CD that goes with this book containing examples of the music described in the book.
The man behind this book is bass player, researcher, writer, radio man, etc Alyn Shipton. Alyn played bass with a lot of well known English bands over the years. He recorded a.o. with Butch Thompson's King Oliver Centennial Band, was a member of The London Ragtime Orchestra, appeared many times at the Ascona Festival a.o. with Dan Pawson's band, King Oliver Centennial, Bob Wilber and Friends, etc. During the Ascona festivals, Alyn led many symposia on all aspects of jazz.and he also talked to many of the old time musicians he played with and he visited. So Alyn knows what he is talking about.
The "new history of jazz" starts way back before even the word jazz was invented. Alyn goes back to the plantation and slavery days, and he tries to reconstruct the musical live in those days, based on original documents and scientific studies, which where published over the years. There was a rich musical tradition of string bands in many parts of the Southern states. Like many authors, Alyn sees the birth of jazz in and around New Orleans, a city with a very rich musical tradition and past, and most of all a rich social live. You can follow the evolution of and sometimes revolution in the music from there on to the present funk, fusion and otherwhat else. Alyn also takes the time to stand still at the development of jazz music in other countries than the US. I was happily surprised to read his instalment on jazz in Belgium during the twenties and thirties.
Scholars should use Alyn's book to explain their pupils the evolution of music, starting from the present day and go back to the origins of popular music. This way they might give the youngsters a clear view on the origins of the music. This book explains in clear and simple terms the links that exsist between the different styles of jazz, links one has not always seen nor thought off. Chapter after chapter Alyn strips the music from its romantic and sometimes false myths. Each step he makes, he uses sources, both old and so far undiscovered, or overlooked, to make his point. He not only talked to numerous musicians, but he also consulted a lot of books and articles, not only in relation with jazz, but also with the history of the South and the Afro-American community and American history in general. He also uses his background as an accomplished musician to describe in a clear and comprehensive language the changes in the music, the playing of the musicians,etc
Alyn Shipton's book, "a new history of Jazz" is by far the best book I ever read about jazz and it brings a refreshing and new view on this American art form.
Jempi De Donder