Why Jazz?

Why Jazz?

A Concise Guide

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
What was the first jazz record? Are jazz solos really improvised? How did jazz lay the groundwork for rock and country music? In Why Jazz, author and NPR jazz critic Kevin Whitehead provides lively, insightful answers to these and many other fascinating questions, offering an entertainingguide 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. Yet Why Jazz is much more than an informative QandA; it concisely tracesthe 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 illuminatestheir 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 tocontinually 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 haphazardlycover 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.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2011
ISBN: 9780199731183
Branch Call Number: 781.65 WHI 2011 22
Characteristics: viii, 172 p


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

KCLSRecommends Apr 23, 2014

Jazz seems to be one of those words that everyone loves to use (‘jazzy,’ ‘jazz it up!’) but the music itself registers barely a blip on the popular charts tracking sales these days. Distinguished critic Whitehead is trying to correct such shortcomings with this handy little book full of information for both newcomers and wise old fans.
He covers all the major jazz movements through history, such as swing, bop and modern jazz all in a clever question and answer format that, nevertheless, is full of gems of wisdom.

Apr 26, 2011

This is a great introduction to jazz. History of the last century is explained and how jazz came about. There are many interesting musical explanations, but most are within the grasp of non-musicians. I am a classical musician and I found it very informative and interesting.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at FSPL

To Top