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Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development (History of Jazz) (The History of Jazz) Paperback – 19 Jun 1986

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; New Ed edition (19 Jun. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195040430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195040432
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 2.1 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 410,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Here at last is the definitive work...clear, thorough, objective, sophisticated, original. A remarkable book by any standard, it is unparalleled in the literature of jazz.' New York Times Book Review

'an almost unprecedented approach for a writer on jazz, he has described and analysed the music itself.' The Times

'an excellent work ... Without doubt, the book is masterly in its approach and would serve as both an ideal introduction to the young student of jazz and to the established fan who wants to delve more deeply into the music origins.' The Star

'Schuller has a rare gift for conveying his wonderment and love of his subject matter without ever compromising academic discipline...for all his painstaking precise academic exactitudes, he is never dry or overly technical...It would be hard to imagine this book ever being superceded. As far as I can see, it is definitive.' Music and Musicians

'it remains one of the most significant contributions to jazz scholarship to this day.' Music Teacher

From the Back Cover

Early Jazz is one of the seminal books on American jazz. it is the first of three volumes on the history and musical contribution of jazz, taking us from its beginnings as a distinct musical style at the turn of the century to its first great flowering in the 1930's.

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 28 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a must have for lovers of Early Jazz. Pitched at an enthusiasts level, it does precisely what the title says. If you want to understand jazz and how it came about this is the book for you. It is not a book for a light hearted read, there are plenty out there, but a serious but well written study and explanation.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought for a friiendnwonderfull book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x99c053a8) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9907c3a8) out of 5 stars The best musical examination of 20s jazz 14 Aug. 2000
By Robert James - Published on
Format: Paperback
Jazz criticism tends to run in two groups: one, the biographical/anecdotal (often marvelous to read), and two, word pictures of how the music made the writer feel (often awful to read). Gunther Schuller's "Early Jazz" does what any undergraduate musicology major would do: examine the music note by note, and explain what's going on. While this is not an easy book to read for people like me who have no musical training (or talent, for that matter), it is an absolutely essential book nonetheless. Schuller goes through each major musician and movement of the twenties, and shows exactly what is occurring. What worked best for me was to have the recording he was discussing playing while I read, so I could hear what he was talking about. Anybody in love with the early music of Armstrong or Ellington needs to tackle this book sooner or later.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98cb100c) out of 5 stars An American Heritage. 11 May 2000
By Peter Stöve, arranger, conductor of "the Beau Hunks" orchestra (check our CD's at and the Dutch production of 'Annie". - Published on
Format: Paperback
I can't believe that no-one has reviewed this wonderful book until now. It is one of the cornerstones of jazz criticism, and the first one not written by one of these annoying pipe-smoking, foot-tapping listeners you always notice sitting at tables beside the bandstand at jazzclubs, but by a very fine musician who has actually been 'one of the cats'. O.K., he is a French horn-player, but jazz buffs who are 'in the know' with the work of Julius Watkins and John Graas won't mind. But seriously: His chapters on Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton (some thirty years before the Dirty Dozen Brass Band decided to dedicate a whole CD to the music of this first truly 'jazz composer'), but especially Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington will enlighten everyone who is looking for a critical assesment of the music and is tired of the endless re-telling of the phoney 'romantic' stories surrounding this music. And for the people who think they know about everything: One chapter is enirely dedicated to what is known as 'territory' bands, the bands that only played their home town and the region around it. Many a gem of inspired music can be unearthed in this chapter. P.S. O.K., I'm biased. Mr. Schuller autographed my hardcover copy of the book when he was conducting the Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra, and I gatecrashed at a rehearsal.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98e2a2e8) out of 5 stars Fabulous in-depth look at Jazz' early development 2 Aug. 2008
By Priscilla Stilwell - Published on
Format: Paperback
Hardly a stone is left unturned in this look into the early development of jazz. It provides a thorough introduction to a wide range of subjects and artists, carefully reviewing each of numerous recordings.

This is not a biographical account of the lives of the early jazz artists, but is an analysis of the styles and development. From the deep south and the roots of the music, into the Midwest and Southwestern styles, the author is thorough and careful in his look.

Much more than an introduction, this certainly would be suitable for a college course in jazz development.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By John H. Borders - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
... one of the GREATEST books about jazz, ever written. Gunther uses musical examples and notations ... and text that is NOT esoteric, nor difficult to understand ... to describe his views/overview of how jazz evolved from certain sources, into a MORE-formative way and transformation! In every page, there's probably LITTLE (or nothing) to argue about his sources and conclusions ... as he traces the evolution of one of the GREATest musics, and the innovations of Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, James "Reese" Europe, James P. Johnson and EVERY part of those who FOUNDED the groundwork and development (using ragtime, blues, etc.) of an extraordinary period of American music and originators. ... If there's a "better" work of scholarship AND relationship, to the music, itself ... some of us would LIKE to know about it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98f92990) out of 5 stars Thorough 26 Aug. 2013
By L. Thibault - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very thorough and well-researched history of early jazz. A must have for jazz history buffs. Well written.
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