Obviously fashion is a major staple of this blog, but it’s by far not the only thing that interests me. That’s why I really want to write a review here for the fascinating book The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia. Put simply, it is so amazing as to be almost necessary if you have any interest in music or popular/American culture at all.
I have to admit that for the most part I was not exactly entertained, by the book itself anyway. It reads very much like something you would read in college, and while not written to be over the heads of most readers, it does contain a fair amount of admittedly beautiful description that will only be familiar to people with some knowledge of music theory, something I myself do not have. Another (good) thing that contributed to me taking SO DAMN LONG to finish it is that it’s overflowing with descriptions of amazing artists and songs that you can’t help but stop and check out on Youtube so that you can hear them for yourself. Indeed I found Youtube to be an expectedly necessary companion, because without it you just can’t grasp exactly what this book is trying to say, and it becomes dry, at times almost meaningless.
So in the end it’s not the entertainment value lying in this book that I found so valuable – indeed I would rather listen to jazz than read about it – but the incredible treasure chest of information held within. My mind was blown from the very first chapter from the amazing things I was learning, as well as all the music I had heard before but am just now getting a real appreciation for. This book is invaluable, and absolutely worth the trip, even if you personally find it a lengthy one.
Now I’d like to share with you some of my own Youtube finds of incredible jazz music, much of it thanks to this book. I also highly recommend checking out the Ken Burns Jazz series.