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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Hardcover with DJ in clear library cover. Ex-library with the usual markings. Text otherwise clean and bright. Spine liner is visible next to flyleaf, but binding is solid. DJ intact under the clear cover. Book boards have general light edge wear. A good copy.
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Lost Chords: White Musicians and their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945 Hardcover – February 4, 1999

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his massive and erudite study, trumpeter and Bix Beiderbecke biographer Sudhalter makes the case that white musicians have been unfairly overlooked in the canonical histories of jazz. Sure to stir up controversy among critics, scholars and fans of "American classical music," Sudhalter's history argues that the rise of multiculturalism, for all its positive effects on society at large, has helped foster a popular misconception of jazz as an art form dominated by African-Americans. While Sudhalter's polemical position provides structure to what otherwise might have become an unwieldy and anecdotal discussion, it creates conceptual difficulties. Sudhalter fails to establish how race worked in early 20th-century America, taking for granted that, like today, Sicilian, Jewish and Irish musicians would have been regarded as "white." However, a number of recent studies have suggested that the full privileges of "whiteness" didn't extend to members of these ethnic groups at the turn of the century. The book?which includes profiles of a number of celebrated European-American jazzmen?Beiderbecke, Bunny Berigan, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, to name a few?is at its most intriguing when examining such lesser known figures as the sweetly tragic New Orleans cornetist Emmett Hardy, the multitalented bandleader Adrian Rollins and the irascible braggart Nick LaRocca, leader of the seminal Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Whether or not you buy Sudhalter's basic premise, there's much to be learned from his scholarly, sometimes combative, narrative. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.) FYI: A two-CD companion album will be released by Challenge Records to coincide with publication. Sudhalter is planning a second volume.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

On a mission to promulgate the ostensibly neglected story of white jazz innovators, Sudhalter, a trumpeter and jazz writer, offers a bouncy, well-researched account of white jazzsters from 1915 to 1945, interlaced with explanations of musical styles and a few somewhat superfluous musical notations. The author expertly recounts the trek white jazzmen took from New Orleans to Chicago and their contributions to New York hot jazz, the new generation of Chicago jazzmen, and big bands. After chapters on such giants as Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Purvis, and Bunny Berrigan, Sudhalter ends the book with sections on the bands of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and others. Throughout, the author repeatedly and unnecessarily bludgeons the reader with the point that these white jazz luminaries contributed to jazz as much as their African American counterparts, whom he mentions only peripherally. His lopsided perspective keeps an excellent book from turning into a classic. This informative, sometimes fascinating, but ultimately unbalanced history should appeal to general readers and aficionados alike.?David P. Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (February 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195055853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195055856
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a monster. It's monsterously large, monsterously interesting, and monsterously important. But like most monsters, it can easily be misunderstood. As Mr. Givens, writing just before me has so well expressed, it corrects the sophmoric notion that early jazz was a solely American Black movement.
Unfortunately, it takes a unique record collection to compliment the text as you take in the rich, marvelously written narrative. I have such a collection (both black and white jazz) and it helped emormously to refer to it every few pages. This made reading this book a multi-media tour through my own record collection as well as a reading pleasure. Too bad that CD Mr. Givens mentions was not included with the book -- I would have made the points he makes that much more accessible to people without the music to refer to.
There are many interesting aspects brought up throughout the book. For example, the fact that Sicilians were so important to early jazz, and that white and black jazz, although differing in presentation and performance, evolved together and in relation to one another are two points well and truely made by the book.
As a matter of fact the book is so authoritative that I don't think it can't be successfully critiqued by anyone who does not have years of listening under his belt. I myself went through the early jazz journey, starting with the "jazz is black" point of view when I was in college. A sophomore in fact. We now know that even blues had a white/black evolution as well as jazz. It may be that one has to start at the black is everything perspective to get to the right point of view. I consider people who casually hold that point of view as not completing that journey.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By T. Givens on September 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Mr.Sudhalter has chosen to place himself in the center of the 82 year old debate over whether jazz is only a black innovation in music.

Although at first glance, many will instantly brand the book racist and anti-black, they will find (by actually reading the book) that Mr. Sudhalter is simply stating the case for jazz being both black and white, and he does so extremely well.

He cites actual events and circumstances, musical examples, and quotes from the musicians themselves, both white and black. The book relates how musicians respected and admired each other's talent, regardless of race; how the growth and development of jazz was a truly multi-cultural event in our history.

Mr. Sudhalter shows no lack of respect for anyone, except those narrow-minded jazz enthusiasts who refuse to consider the whole picture of jazz history.

'Lost Chords' just happens to cover the time frame in jazz that I really enjoy, so I was familiar with most of the musicians and music discussed. For those who aren't, I can recommend it as a way to appreciate where your choice of jazz came from, be it 50's jazz or 90's.

And by the last page, you may decide it's time to go buy some of the classic jazz in this book and decide for your yourself. (A companion CD is available, and I highly recommend it to anyone reading this book).
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Richard M. Rollo on March 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not a mere antidote to political correctness in jazz criticism; Lost Chords is a prewar cultural history, a lesson in music structure, a history of woodwind instruments, a guide to innovations in guitar tuning, AND MORE. It shows the musicians as human beings with all their failings, humor, drives, hard work, and talent. I especially loved the account of the bass sax --- an instrument that looks like it could double as a moonshine still --- and its usefulness in the early days of sound recording. Sudhalter admonishes us to listen to the music and to make up your own mind. Exactly right. A good place to start is Robert Parker's Bix Beiderbecke Great Original Performances 1924-1930 (available on Amazon) If you have ever heard an early 78 rpm record, you will be astonished at Parker's sound restoration.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Stephen J. Holroyd on February 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While a brilliant documentary, Burns' "Jazz" also reinforced the notion that jazz is exclusively an African-American artform. Fortunately, "Lost Chords" does much to blow away that misperception. While never belittling or downplaying the role of those African-American giants in jazz, this book does an outstanding job of profiling all of the individuals and bands who received short shrift from Burns: Steve Brown, who pretty much invented jazz bass playing; the Jean Goldkette Orchestra; Miff Mole; Frank Trumbauer; and may more. And he does so in a way that is both interesting to the casual fan (with anecdotes and such) and the hardened muso (excerpts of scores abound). A scholarly tome, this is a worthy addition for any jazz fan's library. I look forward to Volume II.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By on June 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The infinite attention to detail makes this a must for the jazz fan of all ages, particularly to one who became a jazz fan before 16 in San Francisco, and had the pleasure of hearing my first big band at the '39 Fair in San Francisco: one never forgets hearing Goodman, alive - and how! for the first time. I am still in communication with friends from that period and I am going to insist they get a copy.
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