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Blue Notes in Black and White: Photography and Jazz Hardcover – October 1, 2011

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Blue Notes in Black and White: Photography and Jazz + The Jazz Image: Masters of Jazz Photography + The Cover Art of Blue Note Records: The Collection
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226098753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226098753
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Benjamin Cawthra insightfully narrates the vast history of jazz--and its turbulent love-hate relationship with American culture. . . To Cawthra, jazz photography genuinely captures a moment in time--these images are 'benchmarks' in the metamorphosis of music. . ." --Down Beat

"A brilliant study of the complex relationships among jazz, photography, racial identity, racial politics, and definitions of black masculinity. . . A must-have for anyone seriously interested in the politics and sociology of jazz and how it was perceived from the 1930s through the 1960s." -- Library Journal

"You sense an author consumed and excited by his subject . . . Dr. Cawthra analyzes pictures of individual musicians and elucidates their context, searching for messages and narratives about jazz as a whole." -- New York Times

"It's striking how one photographer's style differs from every other, as though each had been compelled to devise an approach that none of his compatriots could have imagined. Ideal reading while spinning Monk or Kind of Blue." -- MOJO

"Benjamin Cawthra's outstanding book . . . provides a window into the history of jazz and a perfect merging of jazz music and black-and-white art photography. It also illustrates both the gradual merging and eventual divergence of black and white cultures during the middle of the 20th century." -- Music Media Monthly

"Benjamin Cawthra, writing with grace and a formidable command of jazz history and American culture, makes us see the sounds, the social relations, and the myths of jazz as he ably uncovers the personal and institutional networks of musicians, writers, magazines, and record companies in which jazz photography developed. Even as Blue Notes in Black and White casts a sharp eye on photographic aesthetics—its pages brim with bracing insights into Gjon Mili's informal but magisterial style, Francis Wolff's use of chiaroscuro, and Herman Leonard's concept of the sculpted face—it also works as a groundbreaking history of jazz criticism. At its best, this excellent book serves as a model for a multisensory music criticism: while reading it, I often felt I was hearing the music more deeply." -- John Gennari, author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics

"This is a highly engaging and deeply engaged meditation on the development of the modern jazz photography tradition. Cawthra's probing analysis of how 'the photographic culture of jazz' helped make jazz visible perceptively illuminates and contributes significantly to the fascinating, revealing, and ongoing debate surrounding not just the jazz image, notably the African American jazz image, but also jazz history, the meanings of jazz, and indeed the role of jazz in the making of modern American culture." -- Waldo E. Martin, Jr., author of No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar America

"This first in-depth history of jazz photography provides the reader with a three-dimensional view of its fascinating subject, illuminating the music, the media, and the makers—the foreground and the background." -- Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz

About the Author

Benjamin Cawthra is associate professor of history and associate director of the Center for Oral and Public History at California State University, Fullerton.

More About the Author

Cultural historian Benjamin Cawthra began exploring photography and jazz with a museum exhibition on Miles Davis. Entranced by the many remarkable photographs of Davis, Cawthra set about learning how the great jazz photographs came to be and what they meant in the time of their creation. The most comprehensive study of its subject, Blue Notes in Black and White: Photography and Jazz is the result. He also contributed an essay and interviews with Davis associates to Gerald Early's Miles Davis in American Culture and curated Herb Snitzer: Photographs from the Last Years of Metronome, for which he also wrote the catalog essay. Cawthra was born in Washington state and has a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. He is associate professor of history at California State University, Fullerton. He maintains a blog on images, music, history and more at http://bluenotesinblackandwhite.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kind of Blue on November 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Cawthra's book examines the complexity of race, identity, and art. At a time when African Amercians are fighting for full and equal citizenship, jazz and its creators struggle to be seen as legitimate. Along the way another art form, photography, also gains ground as its burgeoning masters document the jazz scene and those who created it. The magnificent photos and the author's thoughtful look at the contradictions of equality and independence and art and entertainment in America make for a very enjoyable read. A great choice for any jazz or photography lover.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ivor on January 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting insight into America's African-american culture which has spread
universally in a single century.The author has given us a different "look" at the
creators of this wonderful genesis.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CHILI PEPPER LOVER on January 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a gift for my brother who is into Black and White photography and Jazz so it was a natural! He seems to be enjoying it!
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