Jazz in the Twentieth Century places jazz music within its rich historical and cultural context. The book explains how and why jazz evolved as it did, as it emphasizes chronology, historical cause and effect, and the interactions between music and American history and culture. Presented from the point of view of the original participants (musicians, critics and audiences), the book focuses on the music with thirty-five recorded examples that are accompanied by a listening chart, commentary and analysis all to provides a more vivid setting for jazz, that grounds it in the time, place and worldview of its creators. The author examines the development of jazz including its origins (ca. 1900-1914), early jazz (ca. 1914-1929), swing (ca. 1929-1945), bop (ca. 1945-1960), free jazz to fusion (ca. 1960-1975), and postmodern jazz (ca. 1975-2000). For those interested in a vivid introduction to Jazz.
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This textbook grew out of an assignment I received several years ago to teach a jazz history course for nonmusic majors. General Education guidelines encouraged teachers to place their subjects within broad humanistic settings, to help students make connections with historical events they may have studied elsewhere, and to reveal cultures relevant to the topic being addressed. When asked if jazz history could be taught in this way, I responded affirmatively. Studying jazz in context uncovers relationships with economics, politics, and other social dimensions, particularly at the site of watershed historical events—the Great Migration of southern blacks to northern cities, World War I and World War II, the Great Depression, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, among others. Students' understanding of jazz should illuminate many aspects of twentieth-century culture they encounter in other courses.
Moreover, the emphasis on context makes it possible to see how social conditions gave birth to musical style. It helps to know, for instance, that the defining paradigms of Booker T. Washington and W E. B. Du Bois established basic attitudes toward race throughout the century. These attitudes decisively affected the evolution of jazz style, particularly its transformation from entertainment to art. Such connections can be made all along the line: vaudeville inspired the antic quality of much early jazz, the ability to hire more musicians for less money supported the rise of big bands during the Depression, the drive by American blacks for political freedom in the early sixties found its counterpart in free jazz, and so forth.
The conviction that jazz can and should be presented within a vivid historical setting reflects the direction of much jazz scholarship of recent years. But as I began examining materials to use in the class, I realized that few textbooks attempted to provide such a setting. Most were concerned to present a more or less abstract evolution of musical style, occasionally addressing historical issues, but more often discussing the players and composers from critical perspectives outside the time periods being treated. Seeing the need for a survey that would tell the story of jazz holistically, situating the music within its natural home in American history and culture, I embarked upon this book. I hope the results of my efforts prove helpful to others who teach jazz in the university as well.
I have organized the book into fifteen-year segments that correspond roughly to fundamental changes in both American society and jazz. This chronology is divided into six parts: Origins, Early Jazz, Swing, Bop, Free jazz to Fusion, and Postmodern Jazz (see Contents). Each part begins with a chapter on historical context to introduce the period. Additionally, most chapters open with a brief section on historical and cultural setting. The first part, Origins (c. 1900-1914), discusses the social conditions among African Americans that led to the rise of jazz, the influence of ragtime and the blues, and the formative role of New Orleans. The second part, Early Jazz (c. 1914-1929), treats the development of early jazz in Chicago and New York, the emergence of Louis Armstrong, and so forth.
Each chapter has pedagogical aids to further illuminate the subject. These include Contemporary Voices boxes containing quotations from people who lived during the period in question, boxes titled Great Debates summarizing important controversies among jazz critics and scholars, and Chronology boxes listing influential events—both musical and otherwise—for individual parts. Other boxes treat record labels, venues, and offstage personalities. One unique feature of this book is a series of historical maps indicating regions, cities, communities, and venues that proved especially hospitable to jazz. Period photographs, album covers, and cartoons give a visual sense of the attitudes and customs that surrounded the music. Birth and death dates in parentheses mark the first substantive mention of significant figures, and important names and terms are highlighted in the text.
Context, of course, has no purpose without a text. The "text" for this book is a series of fifty-five outstanding jazz recordings collected in an available three-CD set. Most of the recordings are classics in that they represent leading musicians' best or most influential work according to longstanding critical consensus. Indeed, a third of the selections are taken from the now-defunct Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, a widely used anthology before its discontinuance several years ago. Some of the more recent recordings have not yet had the chance to stand the test of time and thus reflect a more subjective selection process. Some recordings were chosen to represent a particular style; others to strata a historical pattern. (For instance, Charlie Barnet's "Cherokee," from the Swing Era, should help prepare students to understand Charlie Parker's "Koko," a modern jazz treatment of the "Cherokee" chord progression.) Many recordings are discussed in detail, and thirty-five are represented visually in a Listening Chart (see below). The twenty recordings without listening charts provide students the opportunity to create their own diagrams of the music. In addition to the three-CD recording set, this book can be packaged at no extra cost with the Prentice Hall Jazz Collection, a single CD compiled by David Cutler.
Together, the two anthologies contain sixty-seven outstanding jazz recordings. Because this book is designed for nonmusicians, I have omitted musical notation and overly technical musical analysis. However, the Introduction includes a discussion of musical elements—melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, texture, dynamics, and form—and establishes a basic vocabulary of musical terms which appear frequently in later chapters.
This book presents the history of jazz in narrative form, emphasizing chronology, cause and effect, and the human dramas that contributed td the shaping of musical style. As much as possible, I have tried to relate the story of jazz from the point of view of the original participants, often quoting the musicians, critics, promoters, and audiences that lived at the time the music was being made. Occasionally, later critical perspectives are used to show how a particular artist is viewed today or to contrast early and late views of the music. More typically, I have tried to avoid anachronisms in order to portray the development of jazz as faithfully as possible in historical terms.
As an introduction to jazz history, this book is not intended to be a definitive or comprehensive treatment. Accordingly, I have attempted to do more with less—to discuss fewer musicians in greater detail or within a richer historical context. The book devotes a full chapter to each of five seminal figures: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. Less influential musicians are treated in chapters on various styles or movements (bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, etc.). In keeping with them leading role, black players receive the most attention, but white musicians are not overlooked. The part on Swing, for instance, contains a chapter on white bands led by Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Charlie Barnet. The contributions of women to jazz have been limited but powerful within their area of concentration. In the first chapter on singing—the one arena dominated by women—I assess the role of women in jazz generally. The book addresses styles and genres occasionally slighted in other histories, including contemporary big bands, Latin jazz, soul jazz, neo-bop, smooth jazz, acid jazz, and world fusion. Three chapters are devoted to jazz after 1975.
At this point perhaps a word of explanation is in order about the title—Jazz: An American Journey. I do not mean to imply that only Americans played or listened to jazz. Indeed, jazz bands in locations as farflung as Europe and Australia date back to the 1920s at least. Nor did Americans numerically outweigh jazz musicians and audiences from other countries; quite the contrary, in fact. But I don't believe it can be disputed that Americans both invented and developed jazz in all its major stylistic manifestations. The vast majority of innovative performers lived and worked primarily in the United States. Many books have been and will be written telling the story of jazz in other countries (a story that is arousing new and compelling interest with regard to exciting musical developments taking place in those countries today). But this book, as an introduction to the subject, dwells on the most historically influential figures in jazz history—the figures, mostly American, that largely set the standard for the rest of the world. Thus, our journey together will be primarily an American journey, focusing on people, places, and events that took place within the United States.
Like many textbooks, this one relies heavily on the scholarship and interpretations of other writers. I benefited from the work of many experts on individual musicians and bands: Lawrence Gushee on Jelly Roll Morton, Mark Tucker and John Hasse on Duke Ellington, Jeffrey Magee on Fletcher Henderson, Jeffrey Taylor on Earl Hines, Richard Sudhalter on Bix Beiderbecke, Ross Firestone on Benny Goodman, Vladimir Simosko on Artie Shaw, John Chilton on Sidney Bechet and Coleman Hawkins, Lewis Porter on Lester Young, Stuart Nicholson, Donald Clarke, and Leslie Gourse on Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, Alyn Shipton on Dizzy Gillespie, Carl Woideck on Charlie Parker, Ted Gioia on Dave Brubeck, Gary Giddins on the Modern Jazz Quartet, Nick Catalano on Clifford Brown, Gene Santoro on Charles Mingus, Jack Chambers on Miles Davis, John Litweiler on Ornette Coleman, Peter Pettinger on Bill Evans, Eric Nisensen and Lewis Porter on John Coltrane, Donald L. Maggin on Stan Getz, Leslie Gourse on Joe Williams and Wynton Marsalis. I also learned much from authorities on peribds and styles. Scott DeVeaux's landmark work, The Birth of Bebop: A Musical and Social History, provided the historical basis for much of the material on swing and early modern jazz. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the work of Gunther Schuller and William Howland Kenney on early jazz, Schuller and David W Stowe on swing, Richard Sudhalter on white jazz, Ted Gioia on West Coast jazz, David H. Rosenthal and Kenny Mathieson on hard bop and soul jazz, John Litweiler, Ekkehard Jost, and A. B. Spellman on free jazz, John Roberts Storm on Latin jazz, and Stuart Nicholson on jazz-rock and neo-bop.
I am grateful to Chris Johnson at Prentice Hall, who encouraged me to write the book in the first place, and to my production and copy editor Laura Lawrie, who shepherded the project to its completion. I thank the anonymous readers who reviewed the manuscript, as well as the colleagues, friends, and family members who read and commented on portions of the work: Ian Bent, Steve Call, Herbert Harker, Rand Harker, Scott Harker, and Steven Johnson. Michael Hicks read the entire manuscript and helped in many other ways besides. Thanks to my father, Herbert Harker, who drew the maps. I am grateful to Hans Klarer for allowing me to tell his story in the Introduction. A special thanks also goes to David Murray for answering one of my queries about his work with the World Saxophone Quartet. Jay Lawrence and Justin Cash shared with me their knowledge of jazz in the 1990s. Edward A. Berlin and Thomas Riis kindly answered questions about early popular songs. I learned about New Orleans charivari from a talk Mark McKnight gave at a conference on American music. Francelle Carapetyan secured licensing rights for the illustrations; Tom Laskey, of Sony Music, produced the 3-CD recording set. Denae Coco and Joseph Hoffman helped with research. I would like to acknowledge my particular indebtedness to the late Mark Tucker for all he taught me about jazz and scholarship, without which this book would not have been possible. Finally, I am grateful to my wife, Sally, and my boys, Daniel and Robbie, for their loving support and encouragement during the process of writing.
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