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Jazz Hardcover – October 26, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (October 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393068617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393068610
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The difficulties of writing cogently about jazz—of discerning musical regularities in a genre built around improvisatory jams, and a narrative thread that transcends haphazard biography—are admirably addressed in this history. Critic Giddins (Bing Crosby) and historian DeVeaux (The Birth of Bebop) have an easier task in the book's first half, which traces jazz's coalescence in New Orleans out of varied strands of black music, its shaping by Armstrong, Ellington and other giants and its efflorescence in the big band era as the soundtrack of the American century. The tune grows unavoidably less catchy as postwar bebop and successor avant-garde tendencies transform jazz into a self-conscious art music epitomized by John Coltrane's existential squawk. (The authors maintain a cordial respect for every strain of modern jazz except Kenny G: There are many things to dislike about smooth jazz—for example, everything, they sputter.) The multimedia work contains moment-by-moment exegeses of classic recordings (2:13: [Artie] Shaw's line climaxes on a dramatic high note) that readers can find on the publisher's Web site, along with study aids. The authors' fluent, engaging treatment mixes scholarly lore and sociocultural analysis with piquant character studies and rapt evocations of musical artistry; the result is a treasure-trove for fans and students alike. Photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Starred Review. There are numerous histories of jazz on the market, but renowned cirtic Giddins and scholar DeVeaux’s offering jumps immediately to the top of the list.” (Booklist)

“Giddins is without question the most persuasive literary stylist current working in jazz criticism—no writer has ever written about Louis Armstrong with such vividness, or about Cecil Taylor with such sympathy and analytical insight. DeVeaux provides academic clout and formal rigor, bringing to bear a strong foundation in musicological methodology.” (Time Out New York)

“In an innovative departure from previous approaches to the history of American Jazz, this eagerly awaited new text by Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux offers a unique combination of cutting-edge historical scholarship and experienced journalistic perspectives. This book is destined to become an important resource, one that confronts crucially important musical and social issues in depth—and with passion.” (George E. Lewis, Case Professor of American Music, Columbia University, and author of A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music)

“This is without a doubt one of the best books on jazz ever written. Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux have achieved a monumental feat by creating a history of jazz that will appeal to academicians and aficionados alike. Thoroughly researched and carefully documented, yet written in an entertaining and enjoyable narrative style, this is truly a book for jazz lovers of all backgrounds. By telling the story of jazz in its full cultural, musical, political, social, economic, and historical context, Giddins and DeVeaux have given us one hell of a kick-ass book!” (David Baker, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Jazz Department, Indiana University)

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Customer Reviews

If your looking for a book to help you learn about jazz I recomend this one!
Job Holtzscher
I'm still trying to decide if it's worthwhile searching my collection for each of the correct tracks, or paying up for the CD set.
C. A. SMITH
He would certainly recommend to any one who is interested in the history of Jazz & loves Jazz.
Babyruth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By C. A. SMITH on December 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Starting with the iconic photo of Dexter Gordon on the dust jacket through to the last page, this book is an outstanding presentation of the history and musicology of America's classical music, jazz. It is a book that should be useful to the die-hard jazz fan, the jazz novice and everyone in between.

The book begins with a chapter on the basic elements of music, followed by a chapter covering the basics of jazz styles and improvisation. This introduction is followed by 17 chapters covering the history of the music, from its roots in spirituals, the blues, and ragtime up to the jazz (what there is of it) of today. There is also a useful glossary and a short section on record collection and jazz films.

Many books on jazz history are available, some covering the entire century-plus of the music, and others concentrating on certain periods. There are also a few books on jazz musicology, most notably Mark C. Gridley's outstanding "Jazz Styles". But Gridley pointedly avoids any discussion of the personalities and the non-musical activities of the musicians, as though they created their music in a vacuum. This leads to such oddities as a section on Bud Powell, for example, in which Gridley notes that Powell was "only sporadically active during most of his career", without explaining that Powell was a diagnosed schizophrenic who suffered not only from the disease, but also the horrific "treatments" of the day. Not for "Jazz" authors Giddins and DeVeaux is this `hands off the personal lives' approach. They include brief biographies of the most important musicians, warts (of which there are many) and all. This is essential, in my view, to understanding the music that these men (and a very few women) created.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Searle on May 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book arrived looking a little too much like homework. But by the second chapter - its worth getting the collection of CDs that baby sit this book even if you have a lot of the recordings separately, especially useful on MP3 - it was soon obvious that the authors must have been at pains to keep this to one volume. And by the third chapter I wished there were several more volumes and much more extensive analysis of the musicians included and those not mentioned.
Perhaps the greatest delight is hearing coherent and structured synopses of many things you pick up incoherently over years of listening. There's not much of the subjective in this tome which, since the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, serves as a serious but friendly overview of this great but undervalued pillar of American and world culture. More like this please...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Pilgrim on January 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave this book to my son, who is a professional jazz guitarist, for Christmas. He really appreciated it, not only for the quality of the illustrations and the thoroughness of the text, but the fact that it included bar charts and additional information that he, as a musician, really valued. I, a non-musician, thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the subject and now am listening to musicians and forms of jazz I did not understand before. It has enhanced both my enjoyment and my appreciation of jazz.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Garber on January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Great read for casual jazz fans and scholars alike. Describes the history of jazz, the music theory behind it, and the major figures involved. Also includes a glossary at the end and 101 discs to start out your best jazz collection. My two favorite parts: 1) commentary on individual tracks, with descriptions of what's going on at each moment in the song; 2) the phrase, "There is much not to like about smooth jazz - like everything."
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By I. Libby on May 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
I bought and read this book cover to cover for a Jazz History college class, and it was an excellent accompaniment to lecture. Great overview of a great genre, along with artfully selected listen-along tracks on the 4-CD listening companion. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in teaching, studying, or investigating Jazz history.

However, I have one qualm. I am inspired to write this review not to further solidify the great content reviews, but to address the binding of the book itself. I have never used such a poorly bound book, there are probably 30 pages in my text that have ripped out just from turning the page. Incredibly infuriating as I would love to keep this text after I am done with it, but if it's missing half the pages, what's the point? Hopefully this is either a) a fluke, or b) a problem that will be fixed in the next edition, maybe through a new printer.

Over all, great book, just be wary because now I feel mine is close to ruin because of this flaw.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hunter Kick on September 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Has helpful highlighting. I wish it had the cd's with it, but I didn't really expect them. Youtube has them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Leslie on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my son who is a graduate student in jazz at a top university and it was the perfect gift. This book is essential history for a jazz student. My second son, who also studies jazz, demanded his own copy and has talked about the book at great length; he was even able to update his professor on some facts! He feels like it is bringing lightness to his musical darkness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tender Combo on December 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book on the strength of Scott Deveaux's Birth of Bebop, which for a history book, was a close to an electrifying page-turner as I have ever read. The Birth of Bebop was an in-depth history that delved into the events, personalities and details associated with the bebop revolution.
"Jazz", on the other hand, is structured more like a textbook. Granted, covering 120+ years of jazz history in 600 pages is a daunting task requiring judicious editing and selective topical choices, but I was disappointed with the lack of detail in this volume. This book might be a good starting place for someone with no previous knowledge of jazz. As I previously suggested, it might work well as a textbook in a Jazz 101 class. The formal analysis of each of the musical samples does provide valuable insight into how jazz musicians think, as well as the changes in jazz structure over time. However, if you are someone with an interest in the real historical details, I would suggest you look elsewhere.
My disappointment with this book is less related to the structure or contents of the book itself and more a function of my mistaken expectations, though, and I think it still deserves five stars for what it is.
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