Customer Reviews: Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told by the Men Who Made It
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars20
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on March 25, 2000
This is a great introduction to Jazz History for anyone just becoming interested in the subject. Anyone who has been into jazz for some time who hasn't read "Hear Me Talkin' To Ya" yet is missing a real treat. This is full of facinating information, and is a great read.
The book is wonderfull and colorfull look at the origins and development of jazz music from New Orleans at the start of the 1900s to the start of BeBop in New York mid-century. As the full title states, this is "The Story of Jazz As Told By The Men [and Women] who Made It". This is a compilation of excerpts from interviews, letters, autobiographies, and articles with jazz musicians, both greats and less well known musicians who have good stories to tell. Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson, Sidney Bechet, Danny Barker, Hoagy Carmichael, Jelly Roll Morton, Mary Lou Williams, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Milt Hinton, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, and many others have their say.
Highly recomended!
-- DCM ("Froggy")
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on December 23, 2001
I first read this book at The University of Michigan over twenty years ago, and gave my copy away to a friend over 15 years ago, my surprise (!)...was married to a drummer for a very famous Jazz musician mention in this book!,...and I now just ordered a copy for my library...and to read over... and over again....
Excellent "quotes" from some of the most influential players in original American music history!!!
A 'must have' for anyone seriously interested in the origins of Jazz, it roots, it's movement up the Missippi to Chicago...And it's told from the people who not only played it...but also lived it!
If you finished reading this review, then this book is probably for you!!!
A very good reed!
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on August 10, 2000
This is a great book! It is the story of Jazz, as told by the men and women that made it. What more could you ask for! For the serious Jazz fan or for anyone interested in music history this book is a must. Why read what critics and journalist have to say when you can get it, 'straight from the horses' mouth'.
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For years, Nat Hentoff was the preeminent documentor of the jazz world, writing for publications ranging from Downbeat magazine to the Wall Street Journal. Nat Shapiro was a record producer with BMI and Columbia, who worked with Hentoff on this and another volume. Together, the two Nats queried jazz musicians back in the day about everything jazz: the music, audiences, venues, other musicians, narcotics, changing tastes, and everything in between. The result is this classic book of quotes, some extended, some not so, from jazz musicians commenting on their world and their contribution to American culture. It is an intriguing look into America’s quintessential art form.

What is it not, however, is an instruction manual or history book. It does not trace the roots of jazz, nor does it predict the future. It just provides a glimpse of what some of the stars and lesser lights who made their living playing jazz music were thinking at the time one of the Nats happened to approach them. The focus is therefore sometimes narrow, sometimes wide, and not always entirely revealing or informative. This book seems to feel fine with saying, jazz musicians are entitled to their opinions, and, here’s some of them. The quotes are loosely strung together by a stream of themes that touched on, influenced, and changed jazz over the years.

Some might question the value or purpose of this book, but I think it serves well to represent what jazz was once upon a time. It’s easy reading, too, since it is broken up into such loose sections and consists only of quotes from musicians. It’s valuable for getting a feel of what jazz was about, but it also presents aspects of jazz from angles that many people never think to consider. (Especially valuable are the comments by the musicians about other musicians. Fascinating.)

This isn’t my favorite book ever about jazz, but I enjoyed it and I feel like I learned a few things. I was thinking that four stars was representative of this book’s value, but then I realized that I really enjoyed it, read it quickly, and couldn’t really find anything I didn’t like about this book, so I decided to give it a full five stars.
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on May 6, 2010
Learning history from those that were making is a good way to go. The book is loosely structured and stays fresh as if you were in conversation with these influential musicians.
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on September 26, 2015
If you are only going to read ONE book about the beginnings of Jazz, this THE book to read. Told by the folks who started it all in their own words.
You meet a wide cast of characters indeed.
This is the book I give to students interested in learning early jazz styles.
The letters of Joe "King" Oliver written at the end of his life when he was down on his luck are alone worth buying the book for. It shows what a noble man he was - no wonder he influenced Louis Armstrong so heavily.
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on September 5, 2014
This is not great literature but it is a wonderful book of jazz musicians talking about their experiences from the past. Lots of comments by musicians about the great days of New Orleans, Basie, Ellington and Bop. As I love Jazz this was for me a delight because it gave me so much background to the music.
In my opinion a necessity for any person who wants to know and understand the history of Jazz
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on June 15, 2014
If you love jazz you will love reading about its history in this down to earth way listening to all the old timers tell about where, when, how they created their genre'. Each one has his say as he perceived the drama and excitement. This book will cause you to widen what you listen to in music today by wanting to go back to the beginning.
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on March 11, 2015
This classic volume should be in the collection and the heart of any jazz fan or music history buff. These are the words of the players themselves, not an essay by a musicologist. First hand accounts of the art, the lives, the labors of famous and not-so-famous jazzmen (mostly men) creating more than they knew.
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on April 12, 2013
This is just the words of jazz greats and jazz historical figures. Nevertheless, you can almost hear the music as they all talk about jazz. You have to listen to the music too but, given the limitations of the written word, this collection is pretty darn cool.
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