Jazz Heritage brings together twenty years' of reviews, musicians' profiles, and critical essays by the renowned critic Martin Williams. This companion volume to the prize-winning The Jazz Tradition includes profiles of great performers at work in studios and clubs, "liner notes" for many classic recordings, and Williams's acclaimed critical essays on the artistry of Charlie Parker, Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, and others. Consistently eye-opening and original, these pieces are essential reading for jazz musicians, students, scholars, and fans.
In this companion volume to The Jazz Tradition, Williams collects a variety of his critical pieces, including short reviews and essays (some updated) on various jazz greats, ringside portraits of recording and rehearsal sessions and album-liner note "annotations." The pieces vary in length, approach and technicality, but the end result is a fascinating education for the jazz fan about the legacy and recordings of early jazz giants like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Charlie Parker, as well as the contributions of more contemporary greats like Basic, Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. Williams offers a knowledgeably critical but unjaundiced view in his attempt to reach certain truths about this genuinely American musical idiom: that he (and many colleagues) regard Ellington as America's greatest composer; that the assimilation of others' work and honest dedication to a personal vision creates the great jazz artist; that the phonograph as messenger and the influence of "Afro-American" heritage have both had an incalculable effect on the genre; that great discipline is essential to the art of improvisation. He covers a grab bag of interesting nuances, and a great range of artists who collaborate, admire and emulate as they stretch the boundaries of their art. He traces the origin of boogie-woogie, explores the problems of "third streamers" who attempt to mix jazz and classics, and even suggests that Mick Jagger's emulation of Southern black sound reflects a new generation of symbolic "blackface." We are even treated to the legendary pianist Bill Evans' view on the art of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis on Louis Armstrong, and Jelly Role on himself. A rich pastiche that will delight jazz fans. (Kirkus Reviews)