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The Jazz Scene : An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990 - W. Royal Stokes

The Jazz Scene

An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990

Paperback

Published: 1st January 1996
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No one can tell us more about jazz than the musicians themselves. Unfortunately, most oral histories have limited scope--focusing on a particular era or style--and fail to capture the full, rich story of jazz. Now, in this vivid oral history, W. Royal Stokes presents nearly a century of jazz--its people, places, periods, and styles--as it was seen by the artists who created America's most distinctive music.
Here, along with the author's enlightening commentary, are the words of musicians famous and little-known, veterans of the early years and pathbreakers of the present, telling us about their origins and adventures, about the places and performers they have known. We read of young artists learning their skills surrounded by poverty, going on to win fame around the world. We feel the excitement of jazz before the war ("The music was all over the place," recalled Wild Bill Davison. "It's just unbelievable how many bands there were in Chicago. You could go anywhere and there'd be a band."). And we glimpse the gritty, hard life hidden beneath the beauty of the notes they played: "I remember not eating practically a month several times," said Mary Lou Williams. "During the depression we played engagements and we knew we weren't going to get any money because Andy would scatch his face when he was walking toward the band and the trumpet player would pull out his horn and play the 'Weary Blues.' And we'd laugh about it. We hadn't eaten in a couple of days and nothing was said, because the music was our survival."
Stokes not only uncovers the history of jazz in the major cities and regions--New Orleans, for instance, Chicago in the '20s and '30s, Kansas City, and California from the '50s to the present--but he goes on to bring us the story of the big bands, post-bebop developments, vocalists, jazz around the globe, and the contemporary scene ("I was about eleven and my brother Mike started to bring home a lot of Miles Davis records from school and that did it for me," remembers Pat Metheny. "First time I heard Miles playing 'My Funny Valentine, ' that whole record just destroyed me."). And he takes a close look at the rising place of women as instrumentalists in the last decade.
Jazz is America's most original contribution to music, and--as the late Dexter Gordon lamented--America is the one country where it is little known. But W. Royal Stokes uncovers a scene that is as alive as ever, with this fascinating look at how it has been made and remade from the first decades of the century to today.

"The Jazz Scene is a concise survey that examines the music's development geographically and stylistically. By using quotations from interviews with hundreds of musicians, and linking them with his own shrewd narrative, W. Royal Stokes has put together a kind of mosaic that effectively illustrates the whole subject in a novel and instructive manner."--Stanley Dance, author of The World of Count Basie "The jazz scene is both the music and its history, and both continue to grow. The history grows faster because W. Royal Stokes has recorded the musician's own words and preserved them in this valuable book."--William Conover, Voice of America "Turn to any page and fresh stories about the jazz life jump out at you, adding to the music's remarkable history."--Scott Yanow "This book provides a fascinating look inside America's most distinctive contribution to world culture."--Dave Burns, Chicago Tribune "A brilliant and compact overview of the jazz world, past and present, in the words of the musicians themselves and a most knowledgeable observer, W. Royal Stokes."--Bob Thiele, Jazz record producer "An amazing book, an easy-to-read, pithy, thorough history of jazz that excites the intellect....Everyone interested in the country's cultural life should read this definitive analysis of the Afro-American musical genius and the art's mysterious influence on the American spirit."--Leslie Gourse, author of Louis' Children "There have been several books of jazz oral history, Hentoff and Shapiro's pioneering Hear Me Talkin' to Ya, Ira Gitler's Swing to Bop, and Nathan Pearson's Goin' to Kansas City outstanding among them. Here is a book to place beside those, and it has the difference of Stokes's own perspective as well."--Martin Williams, author of Jazz Heritage "Lively reading."--The Observer (London) "[Stokes] book cleverly cuts and compiles their comments or recollections into a vivid and readable narrative....He has talked to a sufficiently wide cross-section of musicians to provide an informal history of jazz styles....It is the author's open sympathy with all aspects of jazz that gives The Jazz Scene its particular value. Cast as a kind of lively oral patchwork, the book fits appropriately into the gap between formal histories...and purely anecdotal works....Stokes has encapsulated the compelling diversity of jazz in a single manageable volume. Thoroughly recommended, and a good value too."--Jazz Express "[Stokes] has taken excerpts from his countless number of discussions and seamlessly edited them together to creaate an informal history of jazz that is filled with fresh anecdotes and fascinationg stories....Stokes covers virtually every jazz era....One comes away from The Jazz Scene both entertained and educated."--Jazziz "The Jazz Scene is a concise survey that examines the music's development geographically and stylistically. By using quotations from interviews with hundreds of musicians, and linking them with his own shrewd narrative, W. Royal Stokes has put together a kind of mosaic that effectively illustrates the whole subject in a novel and instructive manner."--Stanley Dance, author of The World of Count Basie "The jazz scene is both the music and its history, and both continue to grow. The history grows faster because W. Royal Stokes has recorded the musician's own words and preserved them in this valuable book."--William Conover, Voice of America "Turn to any page and fresh stories about the jazz life jump out at you, adding to the music's remarkable history."--Scott Yanow "This book provides a fascinating look inside America's most distinctive contribution to world culture."--Dave Burns, Chicago Tribune "A brilliant and compact overview of the jazz world, past and present, in the words of the musicians themselves and a most knowledgeable observer, W. Royal Stokes."--Bob Thiele, Jazz record producer "An amazing book, an easy-to-read, pithy, thorough history of jazz that excites the intellect....Everyone interested in the country's cultural life should read this definitive analysis of the Afro-American musical genius and the art's mysterious influence on the American spirit."--Leslie Gourse, author of Louis' Children "There have been several books of jazz oral history, Hentoff and Shapiro's pioneering Hear Me Talkin' to Ya, Ira Gitler's Swing to Bop, and Nathan Pearson's Goin' to Kansas City outstanding among them. Here is a book to place beside those, and it has the difference of Stokes's own perspective as well."--Martin Williams, author of Jazz Heritage "Lively reading."--The Observer (London) "[Stokes] book cleverly cuts and compiles their comments or recollections into a vivid and readable narrative....He has talked to a sufficiently wide cross-section of musicians to provide an informal history of jazz styles....It is the author's open sympathy with all aspects of jazz that gives The Jazz Scene its particular value. Cast as a kind of lively oral patchwork, the book fits appropriately into the gap between formal histories...and purely anecdotal works....Stokes has encapsulated the compelling diversity of jazz in a single manageable volume. Thoroughly recommended, and a good value too."--Jazz Express "[Stokes] has taken excerpts from his countless number of discussions and seamlessly edited them together to creaate an informal history of jazz that is filled with fresh anecdotes and fascinationg stories....Stokes covers virtually every jazz era....One comes away from The Jazz Scene both entertained and educated."--Jazziz "The Jazz Scene is a very readable story by a literate and experienced witness with a sensitive and enthusiastically appreciative respect for the full sweep of the jazz tradtion. I recommendd it to all jazz fans."--IAJRC Journal "A big-picture historical survey, but it circumvents the inherent shortcomings of the format with large portions of interview transcript....A particularly vivid picture....An easy, rewarding read."--Down Beat "It clearly merits a place in any serious jazz enthusiast's library. Stokes has given us an essential historical and conceptual update of that earlier classic of oral jazz history, Hear Me Talkin' To Ya, and as such deserves both thanks and congratulations."--Michael Tucker, azz Journal (England) "Stokes has woven the interview material and his own informed commentary into a highly readable account of various aspects of jazz history, from New Orleans to the present, as experienced by some of its participants....These informal first-person accounts bring a special sense of reality to the subject and offer a valuable complement to the more objective works."--Choice

New Orleansp. 3
Chicagop. 16
Kansas City and the Southwestp. 34
New Yorkp. 48
The Big Bandsp. 65
Californiap. 101
Post Bebop Developmentsp. 129
Singersp. 152
Jazz Around the Worldp. 177
The Contemporary Scenep. 203
Indexp. 249
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195082708
ISBN-10: 0195082702
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st January 1996
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.42 x 15.57  x 1.93
Weight (kg): 0.41