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Jazz For Dummies

Jazz For Dummies

Dirk Sutro, Barney Kessel (Foreword by)

ISBN: 978-0-764-55081-2

Sep 1998

358 pages

Select type: Paperback

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Every jazz lover’s got his or her favorites. For some, it’s John Coltrane’s breathy, bitter-sweat ballad, “Naima.” For others, it’s Duke Ellington’s hard-jiving swing opus “Take the A Train.” Then there’s Miles Davis’s epic-making Kind of Blue, the improv tour de force in which Miles, Trane, and Cannonball trade solos and achieve sheer melodic transcendence. Whether you like it hip or mellow, hot or cool, Dixieland or avant garde, jazz is a vast and many-faceted sound space (and soul space) that you could spend a lifetime exploring. And it couldn’t hurt to have a savvy guide like former Los Angeles Times jazz critic and author Dirk Sutro to help you navigate its many depths and riches.

In Jazz For Dummies, Sutro takes you deep into the history and soulful sounds of jazz. From Sachmo to Bird, Mingus to Weather Report, you get a rare behind-the-scenes look at the masters and their music, and you:

  • Get the lowdown on jazz, firsthand, from today’s greats
  • Get inside the different types of jazz—from big band to bee-bop to funk
  • Get a handle on the concepts, terms, and conventions that distinguish jazz from other forms of music
  • Get a perspective on the history of jazz
  • Put together a fine jazz collection of your own
  • Recognize the key characteristics of particular players’ sounds

Whether you’re getting into jazz for the first time or you’re been in the scene for years, Jazz For Dummies is a treasure trove of facts, insights, and guidance on:

  • One hundred years of jazz—from Dixieland to fusion and beyond
  • Great front men and women, on sax, trumpet vocals
  • Keyboard geniuses of jazz from ragtime to the present
  • Percussionists, bassists, and guitarists of note
  • Shopping for jazz recordings and finding live jazz in your area

The bonus CD features a sampling of vintage recordings, including cuts by Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Tatum, and others.

Your swingin’ guide to the world of jazz, Jazz For Dummies lets you tune into the different jazz styles and help you become a more savvy listener.


Part I: What Is Jazz?

Chapter 1: Listening to Jazz: Altered Ears.

Chapter 2: Birth of an American Music: Jazz to the 1920s.

Chapter 3: The Rise of Big Band Swing: The 1930s and Beyond.

Chapter 4: Bebop to Cool: The 1940s and 1950s.

Chapter 5: Fractured Forms: The 1960s and 1970s.

Chapter 6: Latin Jazz: Seven Decades of Spicy Seasonings (1930s to the 1990s).

Chapter 7: Jazz Now.

Part II: Up Front.

Chapter 8: Saxophonists: Jazz's Main Guard.

Chapter 9: Trumpeters: Jazz's Bright, Brassy Showstoppers.

Chapter 10: Vocalists: Swinging without an Axe.

Part III: Keyboards.

Chapter 11: Piano and Other Keyboards: Black and White Keys to Jazz.

Chapter 12: Organists: Cool, Laid-Back Peacekeepers.

Part IV: Percussion.

Chapter 13: Drummers: Swingin' through Time.

Chapter 14: Vibraphonists: Jazz's Musical Rhythm Makers.

Part V: Strings.

Chapter 15: The Bassists: Boomers of the Beat.

Chapter 16: Guitar: Strung Out on Jazz.

Part VI: More Brass and Reeds.

Chapter 17: Clarinetists: Leading Licorice Men.

Chapter 18: Flutists: Mellow Pipers of Jazz.

Chapter 19: Trombonists: Sliding to the Beat.

Part VII: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 20: Ten Trustworthy Jazz Labels.

Chapter 21: Catching Real Live Jazz.

Chapter 22: Resources for Further Jazz Enlightenment.

Appendix A: Starting a Collection.

Appendix B: What's on the CD?


Book Registration Information.

Companion Site

Visit the Bonus Chapters Page.