Books about Jazz
Welcome to the page on books about jazz. Jazz is a music genre that originated in the black communities of the United States in the beginning of the 20th century. Its origins can be found in older work songs, folk songs, blues and ragtime. Although jazz is still a very popular musical style, it has enjoyed periods of greater popularity. Some time after the birth of rock and its subgenres, the jazz audience started to get smaller. The years between which it enjoyed most mainstream popularity are probably about 1920 and 1970. Its true golden years occurred during the 1920s – a period known as the Jazz Age.
There are a range of different subgenres of jazz, including swing, cool jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion, acid jazz and many more. Some of the great musicians associated with the genre are Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington (Sir Duke), Miles Davis and John Coltrane,
In the mood for purchasing any of the books on jazz reviewed below? The Amazon links will take you directly to their Amazon pages.
List of books
Right now, there are two books in this section.
The History of Jazz
In May 2011, the second edition of this critically acclaimed book on jazz history was published. It makes a perfect introduction to jazz, covering just about its entire history. The chapters are divided chronologically, starting off with the prehistory of jazz, and then moving on to early New Orleans Jazz and the Jazz Age. Later sections include Modern Jazz, the fragmentation of jazz styles, and the new jazz of the 21st Century. However, The History of Jazz is not completely chronological. Throughout the book, there are portraits of jazz legends (including Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie), as well as sections on the development of instrumental style.
The History of Jazz has been praised for being written in an elegant, accessible style, suitable for newcomers to the genre. Combining the current ratings at Amazon US and Amazon UK, it holds an average score of 4,47 / 5 (43 reviews).
Jazz 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz
Another great option, usually a little cheaper than The History of Jazz, is Jazz 101, written by John Szwed. Szwed, a musical scholar and critic, illustrates well how jazz was developed, and how it went from being the most popular American genre, into being a part of the avant-garde in a time period shorter than half a century.
Among the especially good features of this book are the sidebars, which include information on albums and specific songs. Thus, having access to your CD collection, Youtube or Spotify will help you to get the most out of it. I have not read the entire book myself, but a shorter section of it. While doing so I was quite new to the genre, yet I found it very comprehensive and interesting. And indeed, many reviewers have pointed out that it “works” for both newbies and more experienced jazz enthusiasts.
Book review page: 21. Published August 22, 2012 as Books about Jazz.