Szwed takes readers on a tour of the varied and nonlinear history of jazz, exploring how it developed from an ethnic music to become America's most popular music and then part of the avant garde in less than fifty years. But he also offers insightful commentary on how jazz changed the way the world would look at music: "When it first reached Paris during World War I, the response of the cognoscenti to jazz registered as shock: the music was not simply musical, they said - it was physical, visual, social, and emotional as well."
Szwed's complete overview includes: the major types of jazz and the significant jazz musicians of the 20th century; the roots of jazz, including its European and African influences; extensive sidebars with recommended listening, plus exhaustive appendices on jazz singers, record guides, and more.
John F. Szwed is currently a professor of anthropology, African and African-American studies, music, and American studies at Yale University. He has written seven books on music and African-American culture and numerous articles and reviews on related subjects. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship. He lives in Connecticut.
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