Jazz is the great American art form, its very essence is predicated on freedom and creativity. Its sound unequivocally calls forth narratives of past struggles and future dreams. Yet jazz can be as inscrutable as it is mesmerizing, especially to outsiders who don’t know what to make of improvisation or unexpected shifts in melody or tempo. How does a casual listener learn to understand and appreciate the nuances between the unapologetic and innovative sounds of Louis Armstrong, the complexity of Coleman Hawkin’s saxophone, and the exotic and alluring compositions of Duke Ellington? How does Thelonius Monk fit in alongside Benny Goodman and John Coltrane?
In How to Listen to Jazz, award-winning music scholar Ted Gioia presents a lively, accessible introduction to the art of listening to jazz. Covering everything from the music’s structure and history to the basic building blocks of improvisation, Gioia shows exactly what to listen for in a jazz performance. He shares listening strategies that will help readers understand and appreciate jazz for the rest of their lives, and provides a history of the major movements in jazz right up to the present day. He concludes with a guide to 150 elite musicians who are setting the tone for 21st century jazz.
Both an appreciation and an introduction to jazz by a foremost expert, How to Listen to Jazz is a must-read for anyone who’s ever wanted to understand America’s greatest contribution to the world of music.
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