The Evolution of Jazz in Britain 1880-1935 Catherine Parsonage Hardcover; 322 pages ISBN: 0 7546 5076 6 Ashgate 2005
Parsonage's eminently readable history of jazz in turn-of-the-centuries Britain debunks the notion that Europe has been a uniformly enthusiastic haven for jazz appreciation. Early during its development and export, it had a pretty rough go of it.
What is important to realize is that jazz, before it was marketed as "America's classical music or had appeal to intellectuals, was as vulnerable to trends, ill-informed critics and flippant listeners as pop music. This discrepancy about modern perceptions of jazz are even starker when discussed in terms of British music hall shows, sheet music and radio in practical terms or racial stereotypes and empirical mindsets in theoretical ones. Parsonage's opening section gives a thoroughly fascinating account of how jazz, still nascent in America, was brought to Britain through minstrel shows and Dixieland bands, all of whom received treatment far from what would be the case fifty years later. The second part of the book is full of detailed analysis of the various cultural artifices that would eventually turn into what readers today identify as jazz.
For readers who are unfamiliar with the murky beginnings of jazz, Parsonage's book is valuable aid for comprehension and assessments uncolored by national pride or selective memory.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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