Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Visions of Jazz: The First Century” as Want to Read:
Visions of Jazz: The First Century
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Visions of Jazz, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Visions of Jazz

Please Kill Me by Legs McNeilChronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob DylanLove Is a Mix Tape by Rob SheffieldOur Band Could Be Your Life by Michael AzerradJust Kids by Patti Smith
Best Non Fiction About Music
285th out of 908 books — 843 voters
First Book Of Jazz by Langston HughesJazz by Gary GiddinsVisions of Jazz by Gary GiddinsJohn Coltrane by Lewis PorterThe Story of Jazz by Marshall W. Stearns
2nd out of 33 books — 11 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 750)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sep 27, 2016 Mutlu rated it liked it
Perhaps deserves a 5 star rating if it was not too technical for me.
BookDB marked it as to-read
Sep 28, 2016
Barry List
Barry List marked it as to-read
Sep 25, 2016
Liam marked it as to-read
Sep 19, 2016
Nathan Lamp
Nathan Lamp marked it as to-read
Sep 19, 2016
Matt added it
Sep 18, 2016
Arthur Bartram
Arthur Bartram marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2016
Holly Miller
Holly Miller marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2016
Nightgardener marked it as to-read
Sep 12, 2016
Sam rated it liked it
Sep 10, 2016
Pedro Gonzalez
Pedro Gonzalez marked it as to-read
Sep 07, 2016
Kevin marked it as to-read
Sep 07, 2016
Bill Kinder
Bill Kinder marked it as to-read
Sep 06, 2016
Tay Cher
Tay Cher rated it really liked it
Sep 03, 2016
Brad rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2016
Kris marked it as to-read
Aug 31, 2016
Matt rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2016
Phil added it
Aug 30, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 24 25 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Ascension: John Coltrane And His Quest
  • Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus
  • So What: The Life of Miles Davis
  • The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings
  • Music is My Mistress
  • Hear Me Talkin' To Ya
  • Kind Of Blue: The Making Of The Miles Davis Masterpiece
  • Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music
  • Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn
  • But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz
  • Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography
  • Stomping The Blues
  • Black Music
  • Living with Music: Jazz Writings
  • Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life
  • A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
  • As Though I Had Wings: The Lost Memoir
  • Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…