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Hot American music, says Wondrich, has drive and swerve. Drive is the strong rhythmic component that gets the feet stomping. Swerve is the spontaneous bending of tempo, swinging of the beat, and embellishment of the musical line. Beginning with the minstrels who played "Negro" music on stage in blackface in a spirit of parody, Wondrich traces the evolution of hot music into ragtime ("Coon" music, it was called), blues, and jazz. Scottish and Irish music influenced minstrel music, just as Afro-Caribbean music influenced the blues and jazz--the acme of hot music. Unknown rural people and people in the (noncriminal) "Underworld" developed these musical styles, and the "Topworld" embraced this music as it came to reflect on general social conditions. Much later hot music is preserved on sound recordings, which Wondrich references while discussing major performers and composers (a CD containing some of the music will be released simultaneously with the book). Aside from his use of vernacular expletives to express strong opinions, Wondrich provides good guidance as the music gets hotter. Alan Hirsch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"A cool book . . . bringing alive the deepest roots of American rock, R&B and rap." -- Discoveries
"A hot book about hot music . . . with a rare ear for its subject." -- Seattle Weekly
"A lovingly written account." -- Esquire
"Appealingly irreverent." -- Chicago Reader
"Entertaining and engaging" -- Library Journal
"Groundbreaking." -- Robert Christgau, The Believer
"Highly logical and entertaining . . . No other author has done a better job of putting all the pieces together." -- The New York Sun
"Music book of the year? Probably Stomp and Swerve." -- Austin AmericanStatesman
"Saucy." -- The Village Voice
"Wondrichs own passion is infectious enough to make the reader retrieve the old marching band horn from the attic." -- Shepherd Express