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Blue : The Murder of Jazz - Eric Nisenson

Blue

The Murder of Jazz

Paperback

Published: 1st February 2000
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Once a thriving body of innovative and fluid music, jazz is now the victim of destructive professional and artistic forces, says Eric Nisenson. Corruption by marketers, appropriation by the mainstream, superficial media portrayal, and sheer lack of skill have all contributed to the demise of this venerable art form. Nisenson persuasively describes how the entire jazz "industry" is controlled by a select cadre with a choke hold on the most vital components of the music. As the listening culture has changed, have spontaneity and improvisation been sacrificed? You can agree or disagree with Nisenson's thesis and arguments, but as "Booklist" says, "his passion is engrossing."

Nisenson (Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest, 1993, etc.) adds another voice to the increasingly shrill debate on the future of jazz and the role of Wynton Marsalis and his friends in that future. Tom Piazza's Blues Up and Down (p. 1443) denounced critics who rejected the neoclassicism of the young musicians around Marsalis, hinting that those critics' emphasis on emotional statement and innovation had an unspoken racism underlying it. Nisenson has written a virtual manifesto for the opposing view. He jumps into the fray with both feet, accusing the "revivalists," as he calls Marsalis and his coterie, of "smothering the heart and soul of jazz with their love." He repeats the often-made accusations against Marsalis, his primary mouthpiece, Stanley Crouch, and their mentor Albert Murray, that there is implicit racism in their insistence that only African-Americans can truly play jazz, that jazz has its roots exclusively in the African-American experience. He also repeats the claim that Marsalis's hiring practices at Lincoln Center, where he directs the jazz program, have been both racist (few white musicians hired, only one - Gerry Mulligan - feted) and ageist. Then he offers a canned history of the music, designed to provide evidence for his own understanding of jazz a view that is no less essentialist and no less limited than the one he assails. The basic problem with this book, indeed, with this entire debate, is that nobody is offering a definition of jazz, based solely on musical analysis. Rather, as in Nisenson's book, what we are getting is a potted mix of half-understood sociology, half-digested musicology, and half-baked mythology. Nisenson compounds the felony with a writing style that is drenched in cliches. Will someone please step back from this fight and offer a dispassionate assessment of the state of jazz, the history of jazz, and the future of jazz? This book certainly isn't it. (Kirkus Reviews)

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
The Case for Murderp. 11
Young Man's Blues: Racism and Ageism in Jazzp. 28
The Jazz Age Revolutionp. 47
Genius: The Triumph and Tragedy of Louis Armstrongp. 60
Deja Vu All Over Againp. 70
Swing and Its Discontentsp. 79
Jazz Redefined: The Bop Revolutionp. 104
The 1950s, Part One: Out of the Coolp. 125
The 1950s, Part Two: Into the Hotp. 146
Free at Lastp. 170
Dancing in Your Headp. 188
The Virtual Jazz Agep. 213
Lighting Out for the Territoryp. 234
Discographyp. 249
Notesp. 253
Bibliographyp. 257
Indexp. 259
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780306809255
ISBN-10: 0306809257
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 1st February 2000
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.3  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.5