From Library Journal
Beginning with details provided from firsthand accounts of slave dances in the early 19th-century New Orleans, Gioia relates the story of African American music from its roots in Africa to the international respect it enjoys today. Styles that developed in such hotbeds as New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York are considered along with the artists that personify these styles. With the arrival of more white musicians, such as Benny Goodman in the Swing Era, jazz achieved the height of mass popularity. This was quickly followed by the more experimental modern jazz movement, with artists like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie redefining the music and moving beyond entertainment into the realm of "serious" music. This well-researched, extensively annotated volume covers the major trends and personalities that have shaped jazz. The excellent bibliography and list of recommended listening make this a valuable purchase for libraries building a jazz collection.?Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Gioia, musician and critic, winner of the ASCAPDeems Taylor Award for The Imperfect Art (not reviewed) takes on a daunting task, tracing the history of jazz from preCivil War New Orleans to the embattled music of today--and does a creditable job of it. Jazz's history has been written by entirely too many mythographers and polemicists. Gioia, mercifully, spares us the myths and polemics. ``The Africanization of American music,'' as he calls it, begins farther back in American history than New Orleans's aptly named Storyville red-light district around the turn of the century; he starts his narrative in the slave market of the city's Congo Square in 1819, and when it comes to Storyville, he offers hard facts to puncture the picturesque racism that finds jazz's roots in the whorehouses of New Orleans. Indeed, one of the great strengths of Gioia's account is the sociohistorical insights it offers, albeit occasionally as throwaway sidelights, such as his observation about drumming as an avatar of regimentation more than of freedom. He is particularly good in explaining how the music was disseminated and shaped by new technologies--the player piano, the phonograph, radio. He is also excellent at drawing a portrait of a musician's style in short brushstrokes. His prose is for the most part fluid and even graceful (although his metaphors do get a bit strained at times, as in his comparison of Don Redman's ``jagged, pointillistic'' arrangement of ``The Whiteman Stomp'' and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle). Although Gioia is much too generous to jazz-rock fusion of the '70s and '80s and probably gives more space than necessary to white dance bands like the Casa Loma orchestra, if you wanted to introduce someone to jazz with a single book, this would be a good choice. (9 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.