All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Book Reviews

A Call to Read

By Published: January 8, 2003

The remaining chapters deal with Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, "The Chicagoans" (musicians associated with the AACM, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, including the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, and Muhal Richard Abrams), and Sun Ra. All parts of the book serve their subjects well. A wealth of historical and musical information is contained in this work, with many notated musical examples.

Both of these books are works of real scholarship, but which are not only aimed at, or useful to, specialists or musicians. The general listener/reader would benefit greatly from both of these. Free Jazz is the more technical book; West Coast Jazz has more history and personal anecdote. Both have excellent discographies, which do excellent jobs at pointing you towards essential recordings.

If you have ever found yourself put off from West Coast Jazz or Free Jazz because of what you heard about it or read about it, rather than from actually hearing the music itself, you would be well served by giving these books a thorough read. They can go a long way at correcting misconceptions. Of course, reading the books without listening to the music they discuss will be a hollow experience, but the information in these impressive texts will give you the tools to fairly gauge the music in question. Hopefully this will lead to new or perhaps deeper listening experiences, and greater understanding, greater pleasure.

Happy listening in the New Year!

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