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West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California, 1945-1960

West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California, 1945-1960

Paperback

By (author) Ted Gioia, Photographs by William Claxton

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 428 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 204mm x 30mm | 481g
  • Publication date: 1 October 1998
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520217292
  • ISBN 13: 9780520217294
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: 12 b&w photographs
  • Sales rank: 635,831

Product description

Over the last half-century, New York's preeminence in the world of jazz has been challenged only once--during the 1950s--when California emerged with a splash on the jazz scene. "West Coast jazz, " as it soon became known, was a fresh new sound which stirred both controversy and excitement in equal measure. One thing, however, was certain: never before (or since) had so many jazz musicians from the Coast made such an impact on jazz. Dave Brubeck, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Eric Dolphy, Paul Desmond, Ornette Coleman, Cal Tjader, Shelly Manne, and numerous others--these figures shaped the jazz of their time and are still powerful influences today. In West Coast Jazz, Ted Gioia provides the definitive account of this rich, evocative music. Drawing on years of research and numerous first-hand interviews, Gioia tells the full story of West Coast jazz, from its early stirrings after World War II to its decline after 1960. He traces its growth from its origins on Central Avenue, the heart of LA's post-war black culture, "an elongated Harlem set down by the Pacific, " where hotels such as the Dunbar (where Jack Johnson opened a nightclub) and nightspots such as the Club Alabam and The Downbeat attracted the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and any number of visiting jazz luminaries. He describes one of the pivotal moments in the genesis of West Coast jazz, the night Dizzy and Bird opened at Billy Berg's Vine Street club, a legendary performance that sparked California's love affair with jazz. And he traces its blossoming at the Blackhawk, the Lighthouse, Bop City, the Haig and a host of other legendary California nightspots. Along the way, Gioia not only provides colorfulportraits of leading jazz figures--such as Dexter Gordon, a stoop to his walk, carrying his tenor in a sack under his arm--and thoughtful commentary on their music, but he also discusses many unsung figures as well. Perhaps most important, though, is his lengthy look at Dave Brubeck

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Author information

Ted Gioia, one of the founders of Stanford University's Jazz Studies program, is also the author of The History of Jazz (1997) and The Imperfect Art: Reflections on Jazz and Modern Culture (1988; winner of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor award). He has made recordings as a jazz pianist and has produced recordings of the work of younger west coast musicians.

Review quote

"A book that desperately needed to be written and has turned out to be a surprise landmark and masterpiece."--Bruce and Joel Klauber, "Jazziz