The Swing Era

The Swing Era : The Development of Jazz, 1930-1945

4.2 (44 ratings by Goodreads)
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This second volume of Gunther Schuller's comprehensive history of jazz covers the period from the 1930s to the late 1940s, decades which saw the transition from big band swing to the virtuoso bop style. The first half of the book concentrates on the band leaders, singers, and composers who dominated the popular music of their day: the jazz aristocracy of Ellington, Basie, and Goodman, as well as major soloists such as Billie Holliday, Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young. The second half focuses on the origins and early development of bop, the major jazz form of the 1940s, and its two great exponents, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 944 pages
  • 160.02 x 248.92 x 58.42mm | 1,360.77g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • music examples
  • 019504312X
  • 9780195043129
  • 2,092,602

Review quote

'While the length of this work might arouse the suspicion of obsessive exhaustiveness, individual treatments of bands and soloists are admirably concise: it is the commitment to range of coverage that gives this book its volume.'
David Ayers, University of Kent, Journal of American Studies, 27 (1993) 'Reading it is like listening to one of those hugely learned men with the gift of the gab, like Bronowski or A.J.P. Taylor, talking about his favourite subject. Every observation is backed by evidence, every generalisation judiciously qualified, every side-issue detailed in a footnote, but it is all done without a trace of pomposity. The real enjoyment in reading The Swing Era, as in reading Johnson's Lives of the Poets, comes from being taught more
about something you love by an erudite, courteous and generous mind.'
Dave Gelly, Jazz, Issue 12 'the second volume of his projected trilogy, is an even more impressive achievement - the long wait has been worthwhile'
Daily Telegraph 'the presentation of the text is excellent and the written style lucid and easy to follow'
Frank Murphy, International Journal of Music Education 'a magisterial achievement, equally engrossing for musicologists, enthusiasts or the just plain curious ... Throughout, Schuller ... speaks with serene authority.'
S. Frederick Starr, The Washington Post 'its value to jazz and big band fan is immeasurable'
Peter Hepple, Stage & Television Today 'The Swing Era is a work of love first and foremost ... I can't think of any writing that could have made me happier these past few weeks.'
William D. Routt, LaTrobe University, Sunday Herald (Melbourne) 'a suitably Promethean study, densely packed with musical examples and expansively judgmental on the pros and cons of a generation of players ... his insistence on getting to the core of the music, on identifying the original virtues of the jazz musician's art, is something to be prized, especially in this depth'
Richard Cook, Sunday Times 'this is not a book to be digested at one sitting; instead readers will prefer to come back again and again to absorb the various monographs on soloists, big bands and small groups. There is more than enough to keep us busy until the arrival of Volume Three.'
Clive Davis, The Times 'This is jazz criticism of a quality rarely encountered and, probably, the outstanding work of its kind on the music of the swing era.'
Ray Comiskey, Irish Times
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About Gunther Schuller

Prominent American composer, horn-player, and writer on music.
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Rating details

44 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 45% (20)
4 30% (13)
3 25% (11)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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