Michael Patrick Brady


Jazz: An Introduction | Bob Blumenthal

February 12, 2008

Jazz by Bob Blumenthal

My review of Jazz: An Introduction to the History and Legends Behind America’s Music by Bob Blumenthal ran today at PopMatters.

Though it wasn’t exactly to my personal liking, I acknowledge that someone with a nascent interest in jazz would probably find it very informative and helpful. Jazz is a very broad genre with a long and diverse history, and it can be extremely daunting for new listeners.

Don’t buy this book expecting for it to answer all your questions, though. It’s a guidebook that helps readers navigate the chronology of jazz from its blues roots to the various contemporary splinters that comprise the music today.

I think part of the reason I was slightly underwhelmed by Jazz is that I’m also reading Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise, an enlightening and comprehensive look into 20th century music that delves very deeply into the subject matter. It’s been excellent so far, a challenging read that rewards close attention and patience.

Though I’m very comfortable with the history and notable names of jazz, I’m quite intimidated by classical music, and Ross’ book is helping me a great deal toward understanding the more important composers and compositions of the 20th century.

Through Ross and PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center which fortuitously broadcast a string sextet performing Arnold Schoenberg, I’ve discovered an intense affection for the composer’s “Transfigured Night,” and have been listening to over and over for the last several weeks.

[tags]Jazz, Bob Blumenthal, Book Review, Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise, Arnold Schoenberg, Transfigured Night[/tags]

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