Music historians often see ragtime and jazz as separate entities, with ragtime often getting brushed off as the quaint predecessor to the more sophisticated jazz. Jasen and Jones call for a more sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the relationship between the two popular music styles, examining the lives of eight stars of these genres, and noting that during their long careers, they often strode atop both. The authors attack the idea of a rigid divide between the two styles; although ragtime is viewed as a rigid, composed form, it arose from the crucible of informal jam sessions and other improvisatory settings. Jazz, they note, simply took ragtime's improvisation to another level. Aside from being shrewd entertainers, all eight profiled here were always mindful of public taste, all largely self-taught, and all technical masters of their instruments. Moreover, all had long careers joining two centuries, defying the myth that tragic musical geniuses die before their time. An interesting, concise history of a musical genre unfortunately often consigned to footnotes. Ted LeventhalCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"all the profiles are informative, well written, and filled with insights into their music, personalities, and social backgrounds . . . An excellent introductory resource on the subject, this book will be useful to undergraduates and general readers."
-C.M. Weisenberg, UCLA, Choice, May 2002