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Visions of Jazz: The First Century

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  256 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Poised to become a classic of jazz literature, Visions of Jazz: The First Century offers seventy-nine chapters illuminating the lives of virtually all the major figures in jazz history. From Louis Armstrong's renegade-style trumpet playing to Sarah Vaughan's operatic crooning, and from the swinging elegance of Duke Ellington to the pioneering experiments of Ornette Coleman ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published May 18th 2000 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1998)
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CD
Jul 15, 2009 CD rated it really liked it
A very fine piece of work for the music historian and collector.

Well written including unexpected depth of detail going as far as to dip into music theory. Giddins far surpasses the pitfall of writing chapter after chapter of short form biography and review. No pretense is made that some of the writing is just exposition on known biographical notes as there are jazz figures and stories about which little is known or a brief, but important entries.

The author in the preface quickly informs the r
...more
Rick
Dec 03, 2010 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Published in 1998, Visions of Jazz provides a thematic, chronologically sequenced tour of jazz music’s first 100 years. Giddins is an able, erudite tour guide, a deeply knowledgeable and strongly opinionated student of jazz. He writes not just cogently but with style and grace, making him informative and assessable, inspiring me to several hundred dollars of CD purchases during the course of my reading. (The internet rescued me from spending even more.) Giddins is particularly strong (or was to ...more
Robert
Jun 18, 2015 Robert rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, music, biography, jazz
Visions of Jazz: The First Century is a mostly comprehensive look at Jazz through the first 100 years of its existence as a music genre. Giddins breaks up the book into eight parts, including Precursors, A New Music, A Popular Music, A Modern Music, A Mainstream Music, An Alternative Music, A Struggling Music, and A Traditional Music. Giddins looks at some of the figures that continue to loom over jazz today (Armstrong, Ellington, Davis, Coltrane) but also gives room and attention to some artist ...more
Emil
Jun 25, 2008 Emil rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: musicians, music history buffs, people looking to get into jazz
An interesting view of jazz history. Giddins touches on a number of artists from the beginning of jazz through the early 1990's (when the book was published). There were a few artists I expected to see covered that weren't, but given the scope of the text, I'm not completely surprised.

Giddins also maintains a good depth in terms of music theory. You don't need to be a musician or have a background in musical theory to appreciate the text, but the author does provide enough commentary on the arti
...more
Winter Sophia Rose
Sep 20, 2014 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
A Listener's Guide!
Phil Overeem
Feb 17, 2008 Phil Overeem rated it it was amazing
Giddins' passion for jazz, technical knowledge, and broad taste make this and its follow-up Weather Bird the perfect primer for readers interested in not only starting or expanding their jazz collections but being stimulated by enlightening, precise and exquisite writing. You'll seldom find a jazz critic writing with expertise on Ethel Waters AND Cecil Taylor in the same volume.
John
Feb 01, 2008 John is currently reading it
Shelves: essays, jazz
This book's going to be hanging out on my currently reading shelf for some time to come; I'm not reading it straight through, but dipping into it occasionally, whenever I want to read a superb essay on jazz history. I'll say more when I finish it and write a proper review.
Kip
Dec 13, 2007 Kip rated it it was amazing
Giddins is great. The occasional overblown theoretical sentence (of a 60s liner note on a Coltrane album variety) is always followed by straight musical insight or unadorned enthusiasm for the music. I wish there was more.
Jono
Jun 02, 2008 Jono rated it really liked it
I re-read the first half, finding Oberlin music library recordings of each artist - taught me the meaning of a haunting saxophone and a screeching clarinet solo among other things.
Jazz Fan
Dec 25, 2015 Jazz Fan rated it really liked it
Overall an excellent reference book on some of the giant figures of Jazz in the 20th Century.
Carlos Repuestodelatabla
Mar 13, 2012 Carlos Repuestodelatabla rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal book by a phenomenal scholar and thinker. The best jazz writer.
Mutlu
Sep 27, 2016 Mutlu rated it liked it
Perhaps deserves a 5 star rating if it was not too technical for me.
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“I regard my entire orchestra as one large instrument, and I try to play on that instrument to the fullest of its capabilities. My aim is and always has been to mold the music around the man. I’ve found out that it doesn’t matter so much what you have available, but rather what you make of what you do have—finding a good “fit” for every instrumentalist in the group. I study each man in the orchestra and find out what he can do best, and what he would like to do.” 0 likes
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