473

Jazz for Dummies, 2nd Edition

By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz for Dummies
Dirk Sutro
Paperback; 384 pages
ISBN: 0-471-76844-8
Wiley
2006



First, please understand that Jazz for Dummies mostly isn't. Sure, Dirk Sutro's approach is partially for total newcomers, but he also provides advice for aspiring musicians and even jazz fanatics in search of new information.

Jazz is not an easy thing to explain, yet Sutro does a good job defining improvisation, individual voices, swing, syncopation, measures, beats, spaces and song structures. Familiar songs are used to explain the blues form, accents, swing and syncopation. Sutro's on target when he describes jazz as a language with a huge vocabulary, rules of grammar, punctuation and dictionary full of slang. He provides useful tips for newcomers: listening to the same songs six times in a row and listening to different versions of the same standard song by various artists (with specific CD's recommended). He intriguingly follows David Letterman's gimmick of lists of 10, including a guide to jazz in ten cities and ten tips to building a jazz collection. The resources Sutro provides are great, including over 100 recommended album titles, plus movies about jazz.

I have some problems with Sutro's "facts" and omissions. He states that jazz has "never been music for the masses." I get the point, but what about the Swing Era, and the many periods in which jazz has been popular among the African-American masses? He states that "swing and syncopation can't be captured in notation." Not true. "Saxophones have six keys." In fact they have many more, keeping all eight fingers quite busy. "A few sax players prefer metal mouthpieces." No, it's far more. It's not "Dave Brubeck's "Take Five". Remember Paul Desmond? Where, in the discussion of bossa nova, is Charlie Byrd? Sutro's "Advice to Aspiring Players" should have included play-along records, software such as Band in a Box, high school jazz bands, jazz on the radio and jam sessions.

Sutro's work here is impressive in breadth, detail and creativity. However, there's no substitute for aural example. This book cries out for an accompanying CD.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community, 1945-1975 Book Reviews Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community, 1945-1975
by James Nadal
Published: July 7, 2017
Read Go Slow: The Life of Julie London Book Reviews Go Slow: The Life of Julie London
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: June 30, 2017
Read The Art of Conduction Book Reviews The Art of Conduction
by Riccardo Brazzale
Published: June 30, 2017
Read The Free Musics by Jack Wright Book Reviews The Free Musics by Jack Wright
by Daniel Barbiero
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie" Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "The Art of Conduction" Book Reviews The Art of Conduction
by Riccardo Brazzale
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight" Book Reviews Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight
by Chuck Koton
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Kickback City: Deluxe Edition" Book Reviews Kickback City: Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!