I really enjoyed reading this fascinating book.
I have listened to jazz since the 1980s - mainly 1920s and 1930s American classic and swing bands. Having only recently started to take it seriously though, and looking for advice from various places, I have been listening to lots of different jazz music, some of it enjoyable and clearly important, and some of it less so.
This book has helped me put the British fascination with jazz - since its post-Great War days right through till post-War II - into context. From the early Melody Maker with its skewed perspective and racist overtones, to the musicians and chroniclers of later years who went to extraordinary lengths to get their US jazz heroes into Britain to perform and record, Jim Godbolt gives us an insider's insights, and he does it wonderfully well. He writes of how jazz was imported into this country via records, record companies (who decided what was to be released here and under what band name) and musicians (who, crazily, were denied the opportunity of spreading their message into Britain by the musicians' unions for many years). And he does this from the perspective of someone who was there, amongst all the characters he writes about.
He makes it clear that the book is not a history of British jazz; it is,rather, I would say, a history of how jazz got to Britain, who brought it here, and what happened to it after it arrived. So, we get the story of the ODJB as well as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Sidney Bechet's visits here; and we get the story of those British (and other) musicians who emulated them and took their music on.
Godbolt's History of Jazz in Britain is well-informed, well illustrated and extremely readable. There is also an interesting 4-CD ProperBox available to accompany it. I'm really glad I found this book. Five stars for me!