Why Jazz?: A Concise Guide and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 2 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Why Jazz? A Concise Guide has been added to your Basket
+ £2.80 UK delivery
Used: Like New | Details
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: Ships from the USA! Expected delivery 7-21 days Fine. Cloth, D-j. 2011. Originally published at $17.95.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Why Jazz? A Concise Guide Hardcover – 24 Feb 2011

2 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£11.99
£6.71 £6.00
£11.99 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University; 1st edition (24 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199731187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199731183
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 2 x 14.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,265,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

a lovely short introduction to the subject (Times Literary Supplement)

With remarkable precision and polish, he traces the lineaments of each genre, discerns the significance of key figures, explains the anatomy of sound, and sketches the important venues-making this a useful reference for a puzzled or curious audience. (Books and Culture)

An admirably concise primer in Q&A format that covers lots of11round without being preachy. (Financial Times)

About the Author

Kevin Whitehead is the longtime jazz critic for National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" and has written about jazz for many publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Down Beat, and the Village Voice. He is the author of New Dutch Swing (1998), and his essays have appeared in such collections as Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006, Jazz: The First Century, and The Cartoon Music Book.

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
0
3 star
1
2 star
0
1 star
0
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roochak on 8 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Who is this book for? People who like jazz but don't think they "get" it? Or folks who've heard of Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, but haven't yet listened to any of their music?

I enjoy listening to Kevin Whitehead's jazz reviews on NPR, and there's no harm in his claiming a slice of what one observer impishly called "the music appreciation racket," but this book left me a little puzzled about its purpose. The usual jazz primer is an annotated list of the author's favorite albums, arranged in a ragtime-to-free-jazz chronological order; music criticism in the form of a consumer guide. Whitehead, asserting that we're in a "post-album" era, has modeled his book, reasonably enough, on a search engine. This isn't a guide to the best downloads or reissues (only a relative handful of artists and recordings earn a paragraph to themselves), but a ruthlessly edited version of a year's worth of Google inquiries on the topic of "jazz."

The end result is 136 pages of Q&A entries ranging from the general ("What is swinging?") to the arcane ("Did free improvisation finally become mainstream?"). The reader is offered concise definitions of such technical terms as syncopation, the circle of fifths, and the flatted fifth, as well as some interesting detours into musical politics and fashion, at greatest length in the chapter on "the postmodern period" (1980 to the present).

Jazz is an exciting music, not just in terms of speed and volume, but in the transparency of its own process; a string quartet relies just as much on the degree to which the musicians listen and react to one another, but jazz players are (usually) making it up as they go along. Something of that sense of excitement is what Whitehead's book, concise and informative as it is, doesn't convey.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By S P McDade on 10 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Arrived promptly and exactly as described, thank you
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
What Is This Thing Called Jazz? 8 Mar. 2011
By Roochak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Who is this book for? People who like jazz but don't think they "get" it? Or folks who've heard of Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, but haven't yet listened to any of their music?

I enjoy listening to Kevin Whitehead's jazz reviews on NPR, and there's no harm in his claiming a slice of what one observer impishly called "the music appreciation racket," but this book left me a little puzzled about its purpose. The usual jazz primer is an annotated list of the author's favorite albums, arranged in a ragtime-to-free-jazz chronological order; music criticism in the form of a consumer guide. Whitehead, asserting that we're in a "post-album" era, has modeled his book, reasonably enough, on a search engine. This isn't a guide to the best downloads or reissues (only a relative handful of artists and recordings earn a paragraph to themselves), but a ruthlessly edited version of a year's worth of Google inquiries on the topic of "jazz."

The end result is 136 pages of Q&A entries ranging from the general ("What is swinging?") to the arcane ("Did free improvisation finally become mainstream?"). The reader is offered concise definitions of such technical terms as syncopation, the circle of fifths, and the flatted fifth, as well as some interesting detours into musical politics and fashion, at greatest length in the chapter on "the postmodern period" (1980 to the present).

Jazz is an exciting music, not just in terms of speed and volume, but in the transparency of its own process; a string quartet relies just as much on the degree to which the musicians listen and react to one another, but jazz players are (usually) making it up as they go along. Something of that sense of excitement is what Whitehead's book, concise and informative as it is, doesn't convey. His ideal reader is, ultimately, someone like himself; someone who "got into jazz for the sound of it," but soon had other questions about the technical matters of rhythm and chords, about musical influences and historical contexts. And that's where this book isn't long enough; instead of the essays I'd want to read on these subjects, I get a series of sidebars.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Kevin Whitehead does tell why! 7 Oct. 2012
By lee brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kevin Whitehead has written the liveliest and, incidentally, the most compact and yet complete book on jazz you will find. His answer to the question posed in the title is simple, if a little misleadingly so: Once you learn something about how jazz works, you will realize how much fun it is. The books Q & A format applies a little artificially now and then, but is easily ignored in those cases. The book benefits from the fact that KW is a colorful writer, a fact that sets him off from most jazz journalists and historians, and from all jazz theorists. Lee B. Brown / Jazznotes/ The Other Paper / Columbus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Jazz on the Fourth of July 4 July 2011
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In addition to parades and fireworks, I thought it would be valuable to celebrate Independence Day by revisiting a unique product of American freedom: the music of jazz. Over the years, I have listened to a fair amount of jazz, while my main interest in music is classical.

Kevin Whitehead's recent book, "Why Jazz? a concise guide" (2011) appeared to be a good way to get reaquainted with this American muse. The book is part of a series of short works published by Oxford University Press with the aim of giving readers workable background knowledge of an important, interesting subject in brief scope. Whitehead brings both knowledge and love to jazz. He is a longtime jazz critic for National Public Radio and has written extensively about the music.

The book consists of roughly 140 pages of text. It begins with an introductory chapter on the basics of jazz which discusses some relatively sophisticated musical concepts. The remainder of the book is arranged chronologically and covers early jazz through 1940, beebop, cool, and hard bop from 1940--1960, the Avant-Garde period of jazz and its aftermath from 1960 -- 1980, and a final chapter on the "postmodern" period of jazz from 1980 to the present. The book includes a good glossary of musical terms, a perfunctory list of important jazz recordings, and a better bibliography of books for further reading.

Much is covered in a small space as Whitehead offers discussions of musical theory, including such matters as chromatic scales, bitonality, the circle of fifths, polyrhythms,syncopation,modal jazz, and musical form. He gives the reader a sense of the difference between, say, bop, cool, and hard bop. The book also emphasizes the interrelationships among musical forms and the dangers of too rigid categorization. There are short, valuable discussions of important musicians, including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Theolonius Monk, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and others. The discussion of Rollins stood out for me, especially of his early recording of "Way out West." I have this album in my collection and was moved to rehear it several times after Whitehead reminded me about it. The lengthy final chapter on current developments in jazz includes a great deal of detail. The book can be read straight through, as I did, or slowly in individual chapters to help explore a particular type of jazz.

Early in the book, Whitehead discusses "swinging" which he describes as "one of the most alluring and elusive of jazz concepts." (p.10) Whitehead's book, unfortunately, fails to swing. It is full of information but reads, for the most part, flatly and pedantically. Although the book might appeal to readers familiar with jazz as a brief overview and refresher, the book probably would not inspire newcomers with a strong desire to jump into the music. The major problem with the book is in its organization. The discussion is not presented as a narrative. Rather, Whitehead presents his materials in a series of questions and answers. This results in a disjointed, strained presentation which, unfortunately, reads more like a catechism than a short history and story of music. I also thought that the book was overweighted towards current developments in jazz for a reader seeking a short introduction to the genre as a whole.

Whitehead's book gave me the welcome opportunity to think about jazz as part of a celebration of America's birthday. As he points out (p. 10), not all jazz has to "swing" to be valuable. Even so, this short book would have benefitted greatly from dropping the question and answer format and particularly from more verve and lilt.

Robin Friedman
A great book! 29 Mar. 2015
By Andrew C - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very informative, covers the history of jazz, links most of the sub-genres. A great book!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Five Stars 8 Jan. 2015
By Alex Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Why not jazz?
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback