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Bebop and Nothingness: Jazz and Pop at the End of the Century Hardcover – March 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The author of two previous essay collections, Francis Davis claims to be going through a period of disenchantment with jazz. He decries the "commodification of youth," which has allowed a pack of young neo-bop players to shoulder aside many a deserving, middle-aged master. Despite this case of the blahs, Davis's prose is as shapely as ever, and his book is full of gems. There are standout essays on Mel Lewis, Don Byron, Charles Gayle, Roswell Rudd, and Tony Bennett, which resemble scaled-down short stories in their narrative ingenuity.

From Publishers Weekly

Most contemporary jazz is too homogeneous and conservative for Davis (The History of the Blues), who says the unifying theme of this idiosyncratic collection of essays is his "growing disenchantment with contemporary jazz." He includes a number of innovative mainstreamers, such as Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie and Lester Young, and he also devotes a section to Broadway and vintage pop because they have been the sources of much in jazz. For the most part, however, Davis focuses on peripheral musicians-mavericks such as Dr. Vernard Johnson, who spreads the gospel on alto saxophone; Charles Gayle, a homeless tenor saxophonist; pianist Lennie Tristano, a cult figure more interested in pedagogy than performance; Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra; black klezmer clarinetist Don Byron; avant-garde trumpeter Lester Bowie, leader of the experimental group Brass Fantasy; and Bobby Previte, who composes "technoeclectic" scores for the Moscow Circus. All these heady, thought-provoking pieces previously appeared in various newspapers and periodicals.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Schirmer Trade Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028704711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028704715
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,683,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Jerlaw on October 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There's really not much I can say about this book. It's as advertised, a history of the bebop movement. Bebop was never popular. Yet it is the root of all jazz movements up to the present. It has its fair amount of dissonance, yet it is not Avant Garde or Free Form jazz. There is much to be gained by the reading of this tome by the listener and musician alike. All I can recommend is that you read this book, and you'll listen for things in a bebop improv you've never heard, or paid attention to before. A good read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's okay. It is not a history but rather a series of articles written by Francis Davis based on interviews and published in a variety of periodicals and entertainment sections of newspapers.
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By Sten Thorlak on May 11, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
fine copy thanks
sten
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