Yes, it’s that time of year again
– Happy V day from your pals @ the ARC – B, Fred + Quinn!
The history of jazz is a long, often-told story for which there are quite possibly over a hundred books. Here at the ARC, we have cataloged more than one thousand books that make reference to jazz in one way or another.
In 2011, Oxford University Press published the second edition of a book suitably titled “The History of Jazz,” written by Ted Gioia. At 388 pages (not counting notes, indexes, etc.), it is a very comprehensive story of jazz: how it was invented and developed; how it went through different phases of popularity; how it grew; how it fragmented into disparate styles; and finally, the state of jazz today.
Having been an avid listener of jazz since the late sixties and having read many books and liner notes dealing with the subject, it can be said that, for the most part, Gioia gets it right. He tells all the key stories and recites all the biographies of jazz’s most important artists in an interesting and concise manner that keeps the story moving at an even pace. Gioia knows his subject well, and he explains it all with the enthusiasm and care that the subject deserves. Indeed, if you read this book, you will find yourself wanting to listen to the recordings that he mentions on nearly every page. Perhaps in the future, books like this will be coupled with a website where referenced recordings may be sampled by the reader. This would make it much easier for the attentive reader to understand what the author is discussing.
However, Gioia gets two things wrong: one is rather major; the other is admittedly nitpicking on the part of this reviewer.
Jazz began splitting apart in several styles most apparently during the forties. Traditional, Dixieland-style had become a cult. Swing was still the thing. Modern styles like bebop and chamber jazz were being played in the clubs. Gioia notes all of this. What he does not note is that rhythm & blues (thus, rock ’n’ roll) also developed out of the swing tradition. The most notable artist (not mentioned at all in “The History of Jazz”) is Louis Jordan. Jordan was an alto saxophonist and singer with the great orchestra led by the influential drummer Chick Webb. After splitting from Webb, Jordan’s small combo recordings were immensely popular and became the template for practitioners of jump blues, and subsequently rock ’n’ roll. The most obvious example would be Bill Haley and His Comets, which is basically a hillbilly act trying to be Louis Jordan and His Tympani Five. Other examples of rock ‘n’ roll having been an offshoot of jazz include Big Joe Turner, who sang with Art Tatum; and Johnny Otis, who drummed behind Lester Young.
Indeed, Gioia’s knowledge of rock music seems to be lacking in other aspects, also. It is more likely that he does not care for it. When discussing jazz styles, particularly fusion’s mix of jazz and rock, the subject of The Brecker Brothers comes up. On page 331 Gioia states that Randy Becker “had played on the first Blood, Sweat & Tears album…” (a fact) but on the next page, when discussing the jazz-influenced horn section of the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears, he states, “…recording of Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless the Child’ from their debut album…” The song was actually on B,S&T’s second album, possibly confused by the fact that its title was eponymous.
As stated earlier, this latter beef is nitpicking. The former beef, however, is one that is rarely mentioned in jazz histories, as if the authors do not want jazz to be held liable for what passes for rock music in the 21st Century. One can not blame them, but it should be noted here that jazz is even more directly responsible for a phenomena that is even worse than contemporary rock music: smooth jazz!
In all, Ted Gioia’s Second Edition of “The History of Jazz” is a wonderful read. Gioia’s love of the art form is infectious and reading it will send you to where ever you get your music from these days (record store, online store, youtube, etc) to listen to the titles he discusses. It will also send you to the bookstore to read more about the many fascinating characters a tome like this can only allow a few paragraphs to: Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum, Benny Goodman, Billy Holiday, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell… way too many to list here!
If you only read one book on jazz in your life, this would be a good one. Read the book. Dig the music.
For more on the author, check out his website: http://tedgioia.com/
Fred Patterson, Head Archivist, ARC
The Marché de Noël des Abbesses in Montmartre was offering a course on Roland Barthes this Christmas Eve, with vinyl examples…
Using vinyl discs as a canvas deKo Facto creates objects depicting musical icons and images. Is a appropriately corresponding disc used, or are the Beatles adorning an Abba LP? What meaning/songs lie beneath the red Steve McQueen vs the blue? Doesn’t Serge seem to be listening? Who is the author? Sign or symbol? Lost in this plurality of meaning, my head spinning (like a record), am I quoting Pete Burns, Little Nell, Adam Sandler, or yet another re-mix? A simple fellows seeking universal meaning in a closed situation I opt for the obvious bourgeois solution; lunch.
Sun Dec 15 – Outside it looks like this…Inside it’s warm and colorful– not only records, but lots of lovely housewares from donated estates like this “Slick and Fancy” Jeannette glass punchbowl set with enough cups to egg-knock over your whole family.
Great stuff, good people, all to help support the not-for-profit ARChive of Contemporary Music. More vinyl and CDs than we’ve had in years – all genres and formats – 45s, LPs, CDs, cassettes, books, posters, DVDs, VHS, magazine and a vintage flea market + yard sale! An incredible collection of punk/new wave 45s + LPs, 3 big boxes of Christmas LPs, 12″ singles and sound effects for sampling.
SUNDAY SPECIALS – all $1 + $2 items, half off. THEN take 10% off the final total if you buy 10 items or more. more info : 212-226-6967 Please tell all your friend about our sale and help support the ARC!
Archivist Quinn MacRorie pictured before the start of our sale. Notice the custom ARC wine label courtesy City Winery!
After the ARC Party, no more wine, but we still have lots of great stuff on the wall!
Last night’s members party at the archive was a great success. As you can see from the “After” picture, all of the excellent LPs displayed on our wall before the party started were snatched up by our record-hungry attendees. Fortunately, we have plenty of other excellent selections to replace them, all of which will be available for purchase when our sale officially begins tomorrow at 11:00AM. Get ’em while they’re hot!
ARChive of Contemporary Music • 54 White Street in Tribeca. Sale everyday from Saturday, Dec 7 through Sunday, Dec 15, from 11am to 6pm. Cash only – all to benefit the library.
Our Holiday Sale Starts this weekend, and we hope to see you there!
Great stuff, good people, all to help support the not-for-profit
ARChive of Contemporary Music.
A full week of X-mas shopping fun. more than 25,000 items – More vinyl and CDs than we’ve had in years – all genres and formats – 45s, LPs, CDs, cassettes, books, posters, DVDs, VHS, magazine and a vintage flea market + yard sale! An incredible collection of punk/new wave 45s + LPs, 3 big boxes of Christmas LPs, 12″ singles and sound effects for sampling + Lou Reed section.
ARChive of Contemporary Music • 54 White St. Tribeca NYC • email@example.com • more info : 212-226-6967
Please tell all your friends about our sale and help support the ARC!
when: Sat Dec 7-Sun Dec 15, everyday 11 am – 6 pm
where: Our Tribeca space – 54 White St, ground floor
directions: 3 short blocks south of Canal St, between Broadway + Church Take the #1 train to Franklin, or any train to Canal
why: To support the preservation and research activities at the ARC
what: 25,000+ recordings-all genres and formats – 45s, LPs, CDs, cassettes, books, posters, DVDs, VHS, magazine and a vintage flea market + yard sale!
specials: This year there is an incredible collection of punk/new wave 45s + LPs, 3 big boxes of X-mas LPs, more CDs than ever before, + a special Lou Reed section. 100s of modern art, experimental + modern Classical LPs – Glass/Varese/Crumb/Carter/Satie.
All recordings never offered before – we start fresh every sale. All styles of music in all formats. Cheaper than online prices, no shipping costs and cheaper than downloading.
We hope you can lend a hand by making a donation or joining the ARC. Memberships start @ $50 annually + you can join online via our NYcharities.org page (best for matching funds) or through paypal using the button below.
Paper people can always post a donation/membership by mail.
Members attend our pre-sale party on Thurs. evening, Dec 5. Here they can meet fellow ARC supporters, and enjoy food, drink + early shopping.
You can also donate materials. Clean out that closet, check under the bed, un-deck those halls. ARC accepts any and all music related ‘stuff.’ – LPs, CDs, 45s, 8-tracks, books, posters, swag, press kits, memorabilia and ephemera. All contributions are tax deductible.
More than 250,000 recordings are donated to the ARC every year; we sort through these, make sure we have the two best copies in our collection, and sell off third copies. Our sale improves the permanent collection, frees up space and offers everyone a fresh crop of great recordings.
So PLEASE lend a hand – donate, shop and tell folks about our sale! Is that too much to ask?
Contact us if you need more information.
ARC: 54 White St, NYC, 10013