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Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology) Paperback – 1 Aug 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 904 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (1 Aug 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226043819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226043814
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 531,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Paul F. Berliner is professor of ethnomusicology at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Soul of Mbira, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and is the recipient of an ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for outstanding writing in music.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 July 1998
Format: Paperback
An absolutely groundbreaking work that cuts through all the misconceptions about improv & tells what it's really like. Honestly, this is the only book of its kind that really resonates with musicians and has this level of scope, clear & cogent writing, organization, musical examples (what transcriptions!), and respected primary sources.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By lexo1941 on 8 May 2006
Format: Paperback
'Thinking In Jazz' is a fascinating study of what jazz musicians actually do when they're improvising; how they prepare for it, what it's like at the time, what factors affect it. Berliner put it together the hard way, by interviewing and hanging out with numerous musicians over what seems to have been a fifteen-odd year process, including players as illustrious as Lee Konitz, George Duvivier, Doc Cheatham and Barry Harris. There's a wealth of musical examples but, so as not to scare off readers who can't read music, the bulk of them are stowed at the back of the book. (You don't need to be able to read music to find this book valuable, but it helps.)

Berliner's style is a bit stiff and formal (visions of this earnest classically-trained ethnomusicologist studying jazz trumpet so as to get to know his subject better), in sharp contrast to the more conversational manner of his interviewees. But he has allowed the musicians' own opinions to remain as contradictory and unresolved as real life, rather than trying to come to formal conclusions about the 'nature' of jazz; for example, Lou Donaldson is as scathing about rhythm players who want to improvise behind him, as other guys are about rhythm players who refuse to improvise. (You never know what you're expected to do until you're told off for not doing it.)

Don't be put off by the formidable bulk of the book; it's a good read, as well as containing a wealth of stories about the working lives of jazz players.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tamsin Dance on 13 Dec 2004
Format: Paperback
A highly informative book. it's a big book, and full of loads of quotes. clearly explained concepts. i actually used this book for a dance essay about using music structure in dance improvisation. i got a bit carried away with quoting the book and had to cut lots out of the essay- all very interesting stuff!
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By Seth Dantzie on 31 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is more informative than i first thought, very educational for the aspiring jazz artist, wish i bought it before.
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