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West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California, 1945-1960 Paperback – October 1, 1998
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From Library Journal
Gioia, founder of Stanford's jazz studies program, provides a fresh view of West Coast jazz during its heyday. Avoiding the hackneyed debate over West Coast cool versus East Coast bop, he emphasizes the variety in West Coast jazz in chapters about such talents as cool trumpeter Chet Baker, the muscular-sounding Dexter Gordon, the classically oriented Dave Brubeck, innovative bandleader Stan Kenton, and avant-garde hornman Ornette Coleman. The author attributes this West Coast diversity to the urban sprawl of Southern California and to supportive jazz clubs, critics, and such record companies as Fantasy, Contemporary, Capitol, and Pacific Jazz. Basing his account on numerous interviews, Gioia offers the first comprehensive history of postwar West Coast jazz, which should quickly become a standard. Recommended for general and scholarly collections in American music.
- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A book that desperately needed to be written and has turned out to be a surprise landmark and masterpiece."--Bruce and Joel Klauber, "Jazziz
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If you love jazz, this book is invaluable, West Coast, East Coast, whatever...an excellent history of what was going on jazz-wise during it's crucial years, 1945-65. Super Highly Recommended.
It seems that Gioia had a strong agenda, i.e. to make a clear separation between what was good about west coast jazz (in his somewhat idiosyncratic view) from that that deserved to be criticized and ignored, e.g. uses of flute and cello, Giuffre's more radical works,... thereby saving it's place in history while at the same time placating it's more closed minded critics.
Overall I found the book valuable but felt that many of the targets of Gioia's scorn were undeserved and a product of what I perceived as his agenda. E.g. as much as I love saxophone I think there's an important place in jazz for instruments like the flute and I think one would be hard pressed to listen to, e.g., some of Frank Wess's solos and say that the instrument isn't a legitimate vehicle for jazz (not to mention the great work by a number of more contemporary players). While jazz certainly has clear and distinct roots that are important to acknowledge I think it has opened up into a much wider tent than Gioia allows. To judge the value of works based on whether they're in or out of one's version of the tent seems to me misplaced. I prefer Duke's 2 categories of music (exercise for the reader - not too unreasonable in the Google age - if this reference doesn't make sense find the appropriate quote by Duke).