This guide covers the whole history of jazz, from its early balancing of African and European influences, through the formative years in New Orleans and Chicago, the rise of the big bands in New York, to be-bop, the post-war proliferation of styles from a new generation - hard bop, West Coast, cool, free jazz, modal jazz, fusion and crossover - and today's acceptance of jazz as a music that uniquely defies conventional categories like "high" and "low". Setting jazz in its social and political context, against a background of constant racial tension, the author looks at the individual talents who shaped this remarkable music, personalities as diverse as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis.
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Cooke (music, Univ. of Nottingham) has created this succinct history of jazz for Thames and Hudson's "World of Art" series. As an introductory text, this slim volume works quite well, managing to touch on the major aspects of jazz and its seminal figures from their obscure beginnings to the present. An overwhelming amount of material has been distilled down to a coherent (if somewhat academic) narrative, and well-chosen and well-placed photographs enhance the flow of the material. North American readers will find the European perspective refreshing and at times eccentric, offering an emphasis on players and events sometimes overlooked in the United States. Informed readers or those looking for a fuller treatment will be better served by Ted Gioia's The History of Jazz (LJ 12/97) or Gary Giddin's more idiosyncratic Visions of Jazz (LJ 8/98), but as a starting point for the general reader or introductory jazz course, this book succeeds admirably.?Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll., NY
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