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The History of Jazz Paperback – June 30, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The best book of its kind."--Gary Giddins, author of Visions of Jazz: The First Century


"A remarkable piece of work... encyclopedic, discriminating, provocative, perceptive and eminently readable. ...If you are looking for an introduction to jazz, this is it. If you know and love jazz well, this is your vade mecum. Me, I expect to be reading around in it for the rest of my life."--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post


"Ted Gioia's herculean The History of Jazz...navigates this wild country with immense sophistication, scholarship, and wit. In fact, Gioia's History stands a good chance of becoming the standard guide for general readers and academics."--Village Voice


"An authoritative work of research that doesn't spare the poetic power of words."--James Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle


"Anyone looking for a balanced, well-written popular history of jazz will certainly find [The History of Jazz] both readable and reliable."--The Wall Street Journal


"A very detailed telling of the events occurring throughout the 20th century that led to the creation and growth of jazz. It makes for an informative and enjoyable reading experience for all who love the art form."--Horace Alexander Young, Washington State University


"An excellent, well-written text that makes the subject understandable and interesting."--Brian Q. Torff, Fairfield University


"Very well researched, easy to read but extremely articulate. Mr. Gioia has accomplished a seemingly difficult feat with great ease."--Wendel Werner, Roane State Community College


"A miracle of concision, Ted Gioia's History of Jazz fills the most conspicuous gap in the music's literature. Marshall Stearns published The Story of Jazz 40 years ago, and the need for a work that would update the story, while incorporating new research and insights, has long been apparent. Gioia does the job with polish, clarity, justice, and surprising completeness--it's the best book of its kind."--Gary Giddins, author of Visions of Jazz: The First Century (forthcoming from OUP in 1998)


"If you wanted to introduce someone to jazz with a single book, this would be a good choice."--Kirkus Reviews


"Gioia generously considers the obviously major players yet notes hundreds of other musicians, too, always with a perspicacity born out of his own working knowledge...and the literary fluency of the essayist whose Imperfect Art is one of the best younger critics' books."--Booklist


"[The History of Jazz] is a remarkable piece of work, not without its shortcomings or its invitations to argument but, withal, the definitive work: encyclopedic, discriminating, provocative, perceptive and eminently readable. With its publication, it can no longer be said that the literature of jazz falls far short of the music itself.... The sweep of Ted Gioia's narrative is grand, indeed helps us understand just how grand the story of jazz really is.... If you are looking for an introduction to jazz, this is it. If you know and love jazz well, this is your vade mecum. Me, I expect to be reading around in it for the rest of my life."--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post, Chosen as One of the 20 Best Books of the Year


"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."--Library Journal


"Ted Gioia's herculean The History of Jazz...navigates this wild country with immense sophistication, scholarship, and wit. In fact, Gioia's History stands a good chance of becoming the standard guide for general readers and academics."--Greg Tate, Village Voice


"An authoritative work of research that doesn't spare the poetic power of words."--James Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle


"Anyone looking for a balanced, well-written popular history of jazz will certainly find [The History of Jazz] both readable and reliable."--The Wall Street Journal


"An all-encompassing short history of the genre that has dominated 20th-century music."--he New York Times Book Review, A Notable Book of 1998


"...a masterful and fair-minded work" - The Misread City


"The mass of information is structured by a strong linear narrative and is carried along by Gioia's poetic turn of phrase. One of the best, and most even-handed, surveys of jazz and its literature." Financial Times


"For the past 25 years, author and teacher Ted Gioia has provided the most succinct and contemporary histories of America's native musics: blues and jazz. He has done this through his exceptional facility for taking all the previous literature, separating the wheat from the chaff, correcting the errors and myths, and burnishing a brand new shine on the music whole." --AllAboutJazz.com


About the Author


Ted Gioia is a musician, author, and leading jazz critic and expert on American music. The first edition of his The History of Jazz was selected as one of the twenty best books of the year in The Washington Post, and was chosen as a notable book of the year in The New York Times. He is also the author of Delta Blues, West Coast Jazz, Work Songs and The Birth (and Death) of the Cool.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (May 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195399706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195399707
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.3 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ted Gioia is a pianist, critic and music historian. The Dallas Morning News has called him "one of the outstanding music historians in America." Two of Gioia's works have been named notable books of the year by the New York Times, and three others have been honored with the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award. In addition, Gioia was one of the founders of the jazz studies program at Stanford and formerly served as editor-in-chief of www.jazz.com, a major music web portal.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jon on July 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
A fantastic read. Ted Gioia gives an accurate and unbiased history of jazz.

Unlike most other histories (and much of Ken Burns documentary), this book avoids many of the "myth" elements of jazz history.

I really appreciated the importance he placed on the West Coast movement, which has had a long history of being ignored. You can tell he is passionate about this issue, and I plan on reading his history of west coast jazz next.

He also does a great job at giving credit to many overlooked musicians, and does his best to judge controversial figures like Paul Whiteman or Dave Brubeck on their music, rather than what every other jazz historian has written about them.

I would not recommend this book if you don't have a basic understanding of jazz history. You should already know all about Miles, Trane, Bird, Diz before starting this book or it will seem like a barrage of unfamiliar names.

Also - as a warning, Gioia has a tendency to get on scholarly tangents - I.e. mention someone as being "falstaffian" or "Dionysian". I personally didn't mind it - but be warned that this book reads very much like a lecture from a grad school professor.

One more thing I would highly recommend: it takes some extra time, but I kept a pair of headphones and Spotify nearby while reading and made sure to listen to every musical example he cited throughout the book. Sure you can talk about a Louis Armstrong trumpet break that changed the course of jazz, but it's much easier to listen in order to understand....
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Format: Paperback
Some people take on projects that, while possible to accomplish, are impossible to accomplish perfectly. Ted Gioia, a veteran musician and scholar, released this "second edition" of his jazz history about a year ago, updating his original work from a decade earlier. Look what he took on: "Present a history of an American musical form that is a century old, complicated by prejudice and poverty and wide variations of creativity, commercialism and rebellion, involving dozens of instruments, thousands of artists, and in many cases songs that can be performed at various lengths with one to 30 musicians and recorded between the 1920's and the turn of the 21st century. And by the way, do it in less than 400 pages of narrative." How the hell does one organize such a project in a way that will not just enlighten most interested readers, but keep from boring them if they only care about the music and artists most prevalent in only one or two of the ten decades examined?

Well, Mr. Gioia is not universally successful, of course. For me, a casual jazz fan for the past 50 years, I have a fair amount of interest in the early years of the form, a huge interest in the way it went between 1946 and '66, and very little interest in the state of jazz over the past 30 years. Other readers will approach the book with opposite enthusiasms or indifferences.

I would give his ten chapters "star" ratings of one to five for readability, based on my life experience with the music, while for the purposes of teaching readers how jazz came to be, and what it once was, and what it became, and where it seems to be heading, all his chapters deserve a high ranking. How would YOU organize such a task?
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Having taken up jazz as a hobby in my early forties, I've had a lot of catching up to do, not only from the standpoint of learning jazz and how to play it, but understanding what it is, where it came from, and where it is going so that I can make my jazz performances work within the context of the art form. This is not easy at my age (over 50 now) and meager talent level. I'm happy to say, though, that Ted Gioia's book. The History of Jazz, has really helped me fill in some gaps in my jazz education, so that I am once again inspired to continue my musical education, both as a player and a jazz writer.

Mr. Gioia's history is thorough and well thought through. Like any good history book, it follows the chronology of its subject matter faithfully, but what the author excels at is giving a taste of where the present or past will lead, as well as why and how it will get there. Then, when you reach the new material, the new artists, the new performers and the new types of jazz, you have a very real understanding of what happened, what had to happen, and who made it happen. I've often thought that a timeline showing the various artists' relationships to one another - who played with who, when, and for how long - would be one of the most constructive tools to understanding jazz (I even went so far as to begin constructing my own), and Mr. Gioia's book comes quite close to being a literal (if not visual) timeline very much along those lines. That's what really makes this book worth reading, but it doesn't stop there.
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