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This text is a sequence of biographical portraits of key jazz figures (whose innovatory work as improvisers ranks them with major composers), surveying important developments in the genre. Jazz was dubbed by Bernstein as "the only original American art form". Its fascination lies both in its musical innovations and in the rich social history to which it bears witness. That history is recounted here from its beginnings, through the lives of nine great jazz-men, each of them offering an individual contribution to jazz. All these musicians were great 20th century composers, but since jazz is essentially an improvised musical language - themes and choruses being merely a starting point for the solos which follow - it is in this sense that their composing should be understood. In the context of popular culture, jazz is also inextricably linked with the history of American blacks, from slavery to civil rights. This text is part of the 20th-century composers series, examining composers in a biographical context, and offering a comprehensive study of key figures in the creation of 20th-century music. None of the books in the series presume a knowledge of specialized terms or musical notation. Each book in the series features a list of works, a bibliography, and a discography.
Phaidon Press Ltd
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