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Jazz Is Paperback – August 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Limelight Editions; New edition edition (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879100036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879100032
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #691,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his introduction to Jazz Is, noted jazz critic and long-time jazz fan Nat Hentoff states his purpose: "This book is a selective tribute and guide to the jazz life, the players, and the music. It is not a chronological or comprehensive history, but rather a personal exploration through variegated seminal figures of the nature of the music (and how it keeps changing). And it is about the nature of those who make the music -- temperaments as disparate as those of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. It tells too of the political economy of jazz, its internationalization, the continuing surprises of its further frontiers."

Hentoff concentrates on a number of major figures in jazz and blends his own memories of attending concerts or nightclubs and also listening to recordings with recollections of encounters or interviews with some of these musicians or their peers. Separate chapters are devoted to the following musicians: Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Teddy Wilson, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, and Gato Barbieri. Another chapter near the end of the book focuses on what the author calls the political economy of jazz.

Although the chapters on musicians' lives and legacies make up the majority of this book, Hentoff adds to its interest by interspersing between chapters a brief collection of quotations from noted jazz musicians and critics regarding the definition of jazz. Hentoff provides no commentary on these various quotes but merely lets them stand apart from the rest of the text seemingly as a means of provoking readers' thoughts.

Anyone who has encountered Mr.
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Format: Paperback
This "quick read" by observer of the Jazz scene for most of his life, musician, composer, producer, Jazz commentator for life, Nat Hentoff, reflects on his many interesting contacts and on how the Jazz music and its personalities affected him. It is a once in a life time view of the power and magic that jazz became during an era when America had not yet begun trying to crawl out of the dark ages of its white supremacist dominated society.

It is not so much a retrospective as it is a selective tribute to the life of the "prime movers" of the music. In language that we are already all too familiar with, Hentoff attempts to capture the essence of the magic and power of these musical giants -- the synergetic mixture of incerdible musical talent,often mercurial temperaments, and most of all the changes in the music -- all done in the context of their almost always flawed lives operating within the confines of our very flawed society. He accomplishes this task in impeccable prose. with a flourish and in the most memorable fashion possible.

For those who do not know jazz intimately, this will be a rare treat, just enough to give you an irresistible taste of what that era was like. It is a first hand account, "primary (yet very much vicarious) evidence" of the strangeness of the mixture that it took to make jazz music, jazz musicians and the jazz scene. It is both a reference manual and a "reverence manual" of timeless and priceless quips as well as (as is always true of Hentoff's commentaries on jazz), deeper insights into the music (especially on its changes over time) and into the personalities who made it.
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Format: Paperback
What is jazz? Good question.

This book won't give you a definative answer. That is impossible. How can an art form that includes both Benny Goodman and Cecil Taylor be defined in absolutle terms?

What Nat Hentoff's book will do is give you many perspectives on the music from the people who made it. This is not a beginners book, but will give the converted new ways to think of the music.

Hentoff wrote the liner notes on many a jazz album in the 1960s. We now know him as a liberaterian political scribe, but jazz was his first love. He wrote about the form with consicion and beauty. Read the gatefold of most 60s Coltrane albums, and that is Nat.

Great book.

Jazz is? Nat can't tell you, but get this book. Listen to the music. Feel it.

You'll know.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very readable volume with insights that make the music more interesting to listen to. I've read other works by Hentoff, and I'm a fan of his jazz journalism, not necessarily his politics or religious ideology. He devoted his life to really understanding jazz through the eyes of performers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wish the book had been longer! Such a wonderful taste of the greats of jazz. Encapsulated the progression of jazz over time. Wanted more stories, more descriptions, more chapters! Lovely book. Must read for any jazz aficionado.
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