How to Listen to Jazz

How to Listen to Jazz

4.1 (284 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 150 x 212 x 25mm | 392g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0465060897
  • 9780465060894
  • 53,719

Review quote

Wall Street Journal "[How to Listen to Jazz is a] satisfying new book... A radiantly accomplished writer, a busy blogger and a pianist who has recorded several albums, Mr. Gioia conveys his passion for the music with vivid description and shrewd judgements, concentrating principally on the recordings made by jazz musicians rather than on details of their personal lives... One of the best features of the book is a set of 'music maps,' as Mr. Gioia calls them, that serve as a guide to individual recordings." New York Times Book Review "In How to Listen to Jazz, the music critic and historian (and pianist) Ted Gioia confesses: 'I've offered both praise and putdowns to make an artist over the years, but I've never actually outlined in detail the standards I apply in making these evaluations.' His new book is an effort to correct that, and to teach casual listeners how 'careful listening can demystify virtually all of the intricacies and marvels of jazz.' As part of his instruction, Gioia points readers to certain recordings, including inferior ones. 'You can perhaps learn more about swing from listening to the bands that fail to achieve it,' he writes." The Economist "Mr. Gioia could not have done a better job. Through him, jazz might even find new devotees." Columbia Daily Tribune "How to Listen to Jazz is a thorough, impassioned guide to a sound that tends either to inspire deep, almost religious devotion or cause eyes to go crossed...[Gioia] elucidates the music in a way that increases the listener's sense of awe and wonder, rather than supplants it. He writes like a scientist who knows chemistry inside and out, yet still marvels at the unfettered power of a reaction... How to Listen to Jazz is the rare textbook that educates while fostering genuine excitement." City Journal (online) "Gioia's engaging yet authoritative style makes How to Listen to Jazz not just a valuable primer but a delight to read." Buffalo News "A perfect begin an understanding of a music that is, in truth, very, very easy to love." Library Journal "How to Listen to Jazz is a fresh, clearly written and infinitely usable book that should put the jazz novice on track." Washington Post "How to Listen to Jazz fills an important and obvious gap by offering a sensible and jargon-free introduction to what Gioia calls 'the most joyous sound invented during the entire course of twentieth-century music.' The book deserves a place alongside such classic works of jazz criticism as Martin Williams's The Jazz Tradition, Will Friedwald's Jazz Singing, the books of Gary Giddins and Gioia's own The History of Jazz. His prose is brisk and well-paced, with many surprising insights along the way." Weekly Standard "How to Listen to Jazz is a packed and useful introduction to the medium with suggestions and aids for the listener who wants to gain entrance to a rich and complicated body of work. Gioia aspires to 'bare my own process of listening' by, among other things, proposing various strategies for making the music more available... Before getting very far in this little book, you feel you are in good hands." Publishers Weekly "[Gioia] walks fans through a crash course in jazz appreciation that's suitable for newcomers and intermediate listeners alike... His prose is...inviting and often playful... Most valuable is the extensive catalogue of recommendations, not just of the genre's top performers but of 150 contemporary jazz musicians--a list that new fans can use to kickstart their journey, and experienced ones can reference to keep up with the form's continuing evolution." Dan Morgenstern, Director emeritus, Institute of Jazz Studies and author of Living with Jazz "As jazz enters its second century, becoming more multi-faceted apace, guidance for the novice--listener or musician--is more useful than ever, and Ted Gioia offers it expertly, in blessedly readable prose."show more

About Ted Gioia

Ted Gioia is a jazz pianist, award-winning music historian, and the author of ten books, including The History of Jazz and The Jazz Standards. He previously served on the faculty of Stanford University's Department of Music. Gioia is currently columnist for The Daily Beast, and writes regularly on music, books and popular more

Rating details

284 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 33% (95)
4 46% (130)
3 19% (53)
2 2% (5)
1 0% (1)
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