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Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History [Paperback]

Robert Walser
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

7 Jan 1999
shows that jazz is about issues and ideas that have affected people deeply in a great variety of ways. Brief introductory comments precede each excerpt, explaining the context of the selection and pointing out issues for discussion.

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Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History + Downbeat: the Great Jazz Interviews: A 75th Anniversary Anthology + The Duke Ellington Reader
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (7 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195091736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195091731
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.6 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 203,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Drawing from contemporary journalism, reviews, program notes, memoirs, interviews, and other sources, Keeping Time lets you experience, first hand, the controversies and critical issues that have accompanied jazz from its very birth.
Edited by Robert Walser, these sixty-two thought provoking pieces offer a wealth of insight into jazz. Some of the giants of jazz speak to us here, including Jelly Roll Morton, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus and Wynton Marsalis. And there are pieces by writers such as Langston Hughes, Norman Mailer, and Ralph Ellison, and by critics such as Leonard Feather and Gunther Schuller. Readers will find Louis Armstrong on what makes swing, Dizzy Gillespie on bebop, and Miles Davis on jazz-rock fusion. Equally important, Walser has selected writings that capture the passionate reactions of people who have loved, hated, supported, and argued about jazz. One can read, for instance, a dismissive article written in 1918 that relegates jazz to the "servant's hall of music" along with "the clatter of the clogs, the click of Slavic heels." Or a debate between Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock over the merits of free jazz and electric instruments. Or Duke Ellington's claim that jazz is neither highbrow nor lowbrow, but "goes back to something just about as old—and as natural—as the circulation of the blood."
In the end, the focus here remains on how the music works and why people have cared about it. Filled with passionately felt, insightful writing, Keeping Time will increase one's historical awareness of jazz even as it provokes lively discussion among jazz aficionados, whether in clubs, concert halls or classrooms.

"represents on paper the kaleidoscope richness of jazz history" July 1999

"elegant and well-crafted peices" Jazzwise, july 1999

About the Author

"challenging collection of writings" Jazzwise, July 1999

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ONE OF THE GREATEST OF THE EARLY NEW Orleans jazz musicians, Sidney Bechet (1897-1959) was among those who left the city around the time of World War 1, bringing the music to an international audience. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating archive 2 Oct 2013
By Roger W
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An intriguing social history - in bite-sized pieces - told by the people who were there. If you are at all interested in jazz and where it comes from you will enjoy this book. Otherwise, perhaps not.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Supplement 31 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent supplement to narrative or recorded jazz histories. Organized chronologically, the collection of readings is quite easy to read and offers a variety of viewpoints (musicians, interviews, critical essays, reviews, etc.) that highlight major attitudes and trends in jazz history. Walser begins each article with a brief but excellent introduction that locates each reading historically and elucidates the important critical questions that the reading poses, all without ever sounding preachy. (I only give 4 stars simply because it's a collection of older writings; for what it is, it's great.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for the true jazz lover 15 Dec 2001
By Martin Terrones - Published on
While a student in Professor Walser's Jazz class at UCLA, I was one of several students lucky enough to have read every chapter before it made it to press. Every chapter was like a time machine, transporting us back in time to an era where racism and sexism took a toll on some musicians while only strengthening the resolve of others. This book was, at the time, one of the best readings I had done in a long time. In reading direct quotes from the greats of music, you couldn't help but feel a bit inspired. "Keeping in Time" is a gem and should be assigned reading to anyone studying jazz or just wanting to learn more about the many performers who played or sang that one song you liked differently. Professor Walser certainly knows his subject matter well. And in my case, he certainly excelled in the one thing he likes to do: teach.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well-written and easy to read 3 Dec 2005
By Farhad Bahrami - Published on
We used this book in our graduate seminar on jazz. It was so interesting that even before class started I had finished reading the book. Many topics are discussed (roots of jazz, definitions of jazz, hip vs square, future of jazz), many important historical articles are reprinted, many major musicians are interviewed and quoted, and each writing is preceded by a clear explanation by the author of the issues discussed. The selction of topics, the breadth of knowledge given, and the flow of the book, are what make it great.
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