What was the first jazz record? Are jazz solos really improvised? How did jazz lay the groundwork for rock and country music? InWhy Jazz?, author and NPR jazz critic Kevin Whitehead provides lively, insightful answers to these and many other fascinating questions, offering an entertaining guide for both novice listeners and long-time fans. Organized chronologically in a convenient question and answer format, this terrific resource makes jazz accessible to a broad audience, and especially to readers who've found the music bewildering or best left to the experts. YetWhy Jazz'is much more than an informative Q&A; it concisely traces the century-old history of this American and global art form, from its beginnings in New Orleans up through the current postmodern period. Whitehead provides brief profiles of the archetypal figures of jazz--from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Wynton Marsalis and John Zorn--and illuminates their contributions as musicians, performers, and composers. Also highlighted are the building blocks of the jazz sound--call and response, rhythmic contrasts, personalized performance techniques and improvisation--and discussion of how visionary musicians have reinterpreted these elements to continually redefine jazz, ushering in the swing era, bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, and the avant-garde. Along the way,Why Jazz'provides helpful plain-English descriptions of musical terminology and techniques, from "blue notes" to "conducted improvising." And unlike other histories which haphazardly cover the stylistic branches of jazz that emerged after the 1960s,Why Jazz'groups latter-day musical trends by decade, the better to place them in historical context. Whether read in self-contained sections or as a continuous narrative, this compact reference presents a trove of essential information that belongs on the shelf of anyone who's ever been interested in jazz.
African rhythms : the autobiography of Randy Weston
composed by Randy Weston ; arranged by Willard Jenkins.
Durham : Duke University Press, 2010.
The pianist, composer, and bandleader Randy Weston is one of the world’s most influential jazz musicians and a remarkable storyteller whose career has spanned five continents and more than six decades. Packed with fascinating anecdotes, African Rhythms is Weston’s life story, as told by him to the music journalist Willard Jenkins. It encompasses Weston’s childhood in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood-where his parents and other members of their generation imbued him with pride in his African heritage-and his introduction to jazz and early years as a musician in the artistic ferment of mid-twentieth-century New York. His music has taken him around the world: he has performed in eighteen African countries, in Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, in the Canterbury Cathedral, and at the grand opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina: The New Library of Alexandria. Africa is at the core of Weston’s music and spirituality. He has traversed the continent on a continuous quest to learn about its musical traditions, produced its first major jazz festival, and lived for years in Morocco, where he opened a popular jazz club, the African Rhythms Club, in Tangier. Weston’s narrative is replete with tales of the people he has met and befriended, and with whom he has worked. He describes his unique partnerships with Langston Hughes, the musician and arranger Melba Liston, and the jazz scholar Marshall Stearns, as well as his friendships and collaborations with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, the novelist Paul Bowles, the Cuban percussionist Candido Camero, the Ghanaian jazz artist Kofi Ghanaba, the Gnawa musicians of Morocco, and many others. With African Rhythms , an international jazz virtuoso continues to create cultural history.
The jazz image : seeing music through Herman Leonard's photography
K. Heather Pinson.
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
Typically a photograph of a jazz musician has several formal prerequisites: black and white film, an urban setting in the mid-twentieth century, and a black man standing, playing, or sitting next to his instrument. That's the jazz archetype that photography created. Author K. Heather Pinson discovers how such a steadfast script developed visually and what this convention meant for the music. Album covers, magazines, books, documentaries, art photographs, posters, and various other visual extensions of popular culture formed the commonly held image of the jazz player. Through assimilation, there emerged a generalized composite of how mainstream jazz looked and sounded. Pinson evaluates representations of jazz musicians from 1945 to 1959, concentrating on the seminal role played by Herman Leonard (b. 1923). Leonard's photographic depictions of African American jazz musicians in New York not only created a visual template of a black musician of the 1950s, but also became the standard configuration of the music's neoclassical sound today. To discover how the image of the musician affected mainstream jazz, Pinson examines readings from critics, musicians, and educators, as well as interviews, musical scores, recordings, transcriptions, liner notes, and oral narratives.
That old black magic : Louis Prima, Keely Smith and the golden age of Las Vegas
Chicago, Ill. : Chicago Review Press, c2010.
Both a love story and a tribute to the entertainment mecca, this exploration shines a spotlight on one of the hottest acts in Las Vegas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The illuminating depiction showcases the unlikely duo -- a grizzled, veteran trumpeter and vocalist moulded by Louis Armstrong and a meek singer in the church choir -- who went on to invent &"The Wildest.&" Bringing together broad comedy and finger-snapping, foot-stomping music that included early forays into rock and roll, Prima and Smith's act became wildly popular and attracted all kinds of star-studded attention. In addition to chronicling their relationships with Ed Sullivan, Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and other well-known entertainers of the day -- and their performance of &"That Old Black Magic&" at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration -- the narrative also examines the couple's ongoing influence in the entertainment world.
Let freedom swing : collected writings on jazz, blues, and gospel
Howard Reich ; foreword by Ellis L. Marsalis, Jr.
Evanston, Ill. : Northwestern University Press, 2010.
Howard Reich's writings on jazz have captured the music's spirit of fearless spontaneity and soulful lyricism. Let Freedom Swing showcases the best of these writings from the last quarter century. Each section of Let Freedom Swing is a suite, focusing on people, a place, or a scene. Reich gives new life to the standards with his profiles and elegies for such giants as Gershwin, Ellington, and Sinatra, while also helping to introduce readers to the younger voices that continue to revitalize the jazz scene.
[edited by Vincent Bessières ; text by Franck Bergerot ; with contributions by George Avakian ... [et al.]].
New York : Skira Rizzoli, c2010.
The most comprehensive book on the artist to date, offering an insightful look into the legendary musician and his enormous impact on the development of jazz. Miles Davis explores the life and art of one of the greatest visionaries in jazz history through photographs, handwritten musical scores, album covers, posters, and more cementing his reputation as the embodiment of cool, both on- and offstage. To examine his extraordinary career is also to examine the history of jazz from the mid-1940s through the early 1990s, as Davis was crucial in almost every important innovation and stylistic development during that time. His genius paved the way for these changes, both with his own performances and recordings, and by choosing collaborators with whom he forged new directions. Miles Davis trumpeter, bandleader, and composer was one of the most important figures in jazz history. He was born in a well-to-do family in St. Louis in 1926 and died in a Los Angeles hospital in 1991. He was at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including cool jazz, hard bop, free jazz, and fusion. Davis worked with many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, including Ron Carter, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Charlie Parker, and Max Roach, among numerous others.