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Jazz: A History of America's Music

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  372 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The companion volume to the ten-part PBS TV series by the team responsible for
The Civil War and Baseball.

Continuing in the tradition of their critically acclaimed works, Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns vividly bring to life the story of the quintessential American music—jazz. Born in the black community of turn-of-the-century New Orleans but played from the beginning by mus
Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 8th 2002 by Knopf (first published October 1st 2002)
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Oct 02, 2011 Ceef rated it liked it
While I found the authors' style to be both accessible and informative, I would have preferred more social history and music criticism, whereas the book concentrated far more on the specific biographical details of the various artists who helped to create "America's music."

As an aside, Jazz was a great pleasure to listen to as an audiobook. Levar Burton's narration was an excellent fit for the material, as he was both warm and engaging, and he often successfully modulated his delivery to indicat
Binh Ha
Jul 04, 2016 Binh Ha rated it really liked it
This book is a great foundation for those who are interested in knowing more about the history of Jazz. Respectable in size, come with a great deal of photos, and all the more exciting accompanied with the jazz music itself (I like to listen to the artists as I read about them) Though I can get the sense that the author is in favor of some artists than the others, he did make an effort to create equal grounds for each. After all, one can only do so much when writing a book about history, and not ...more
Ken Moten
In 2001 I watched Ken Burns' documentary on Jazz and I remember thinking I have to learn how to play the trumpet because Louis Armstrong is badass and I hope to get that book some day. Just a few ears later-I got the book. This was thickest and (one of) biggest book(s) I had at the time. Before I read a word of it I spent a few days simply looking at the pictures which there are a lot of. After awhile I started to read it and by two months I had read it.

This book fill in a lot that the initial
It has been a long time since I have thought about the music that I fell in love with as a teenager. At that time in my life I was absorbed with jazz, the listening to it, the playing of it, and the reading about it. As adulthood swept me into pursuits no so leisure oriented, tie for listening to music in a serious way was shrunken to almost nothing. When turning on the car radio, I generally opt for sugar-coated music that is easily forgotten. For to listen to jazz, one must bring ones whole at ...more
May 31, 2016 Ronn rated it liked it
This book is the companion piece to Ken Burns' JAZZ series shown on PBS a few years back. It is well written, loaded with historical photographs, and as complete as possible for a book of its size. Pretty much the same things, both good and bad, that were said about the series can be said about the book. There are some omissions that I personally consider serious [barely a mention if any of Red Allen, Groove Holmes, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass], but on the whole, it's probably about as good a histo ...more
Troy Soos
Dec 31, 2009 Troy Soos rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
This is an excellent history of jazz, especially of the music’s early years. Many books on jazz can be as difficult to follow as a bebop chord progression, but Ward’s text is clear and well-written. Throughout the book, the development of the music is presented in the context of America’s social, cultural, and political history. The volume is profusely illustrated with photographs from the PBS documentary. Fans of modern jazz might feel slighted (the past forty years are summed up in a final cha ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it
Really good and informative, but to get the true scope you need to watch the film.
May 24, 2015 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Great Read!
Jan 15, 2010 Claybone rated it liked it
I listened to it on tape and thought that the information was mostly interesting. However, I thought that they could have presented it in a more palatable way. It often felt like the authors just strung facts together without any real connectivity. Levar Burton has an awesome voice though and I never got tired of his tone.
Feb 08, 2009 Aryn rated it really liked it
This was an outstanding history of the origins, migration and evolution of jazz (the history is stronger on the early side). A good, easy read and provides what I think is important information on a truly American form of music filled with many of the tensions and negotiations of American history.
Jan 28, 2010 William rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
A well-rounded and balanced view of the history of jazz and its greatest artists. Even for those without an appreciation of the music, the stories of the musicians are worth the read.
Aug 09, 2011 Heber rated it really liked it
The fascinating story of fascinating music. I listened to the audio version and was disappointed that there weren't more soundclips, but otherwise a highly recommendable book.
Aug 03, 2012 Brian rated it liked it
Good info, but this books and the Ken Burns movie (especially) are pretty much the gospel according to Wynton Marsalis.
Jihad Lahham
Jan 10, 2013 Jihad Lahham rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Easy to read style makes the information quite accessible.
Jul 04, 2008 Calvin rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
There have been better written books on Jazz, but none with the wealth of illustrations.
Erin X.
Aug 27, 2010 Erin X. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it many times after watching the Ken Burns Jazz. They go together.
Dec 20, 2010 Phebe rated it it was amazing
really good book, perfect for the jazz lover
Daniel Klawitter
Apr 26, 2013 Daniel Klawitter rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous book!
Nov 10, 2007 Claire rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sittin-pretty
A must have
Brock Williams
Aug 18, 2009 Brock Williams rated it really liked it
Johniz Mamish
Loved it.
Bjm Index
Jul 12, 2012 Bjm Index added it
Shelves: priority
Jay Quinn
Aug 22, 2013 Jay Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Geoffrey Champion Ward is an author and screenwriter of various documentary presentations of American history. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1962.

He was an editor of American Heritage magazine early in his career. He wrote the television mini-series The Civil War with its director Ken Burns and has collaborated with Burns on every documentary he has made since, including Jazz and Baseball.
More about Geoffrey C. Ward...

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