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Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion (The Great Courses)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  60 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
The uniquely American music and art form, jazz, is one of America's great contributions to world culture. Now you can learn the basics of jazz and its history in a course as free-flowing and original as jazz itself. Taught by Professor Bill Messenger of the Peabody Institute, the lectures in this course are a must for music lovers. They will have you reaching deep into you ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by The Great Courses
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(showing 1-30 of 86)
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Aug 06, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: tgc, music-origins
The lectures consist of 8 45 minute discussions (along with a 39 page guidebook), and are a mix of music examples, interviews with performers and lectures.
There are many fine reviews of this course (please visit The Great Courses website), so I won't repeat all the praises here.
For those considering buying these lectures, know that it only scratches the surface of both the history of this uniquely American music genre, as well the the infinite varieties of 'jazz'...from cakewalk to boogie-woogie
Kristi Richardson
“Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise.” George Gershwin

1. Plantation Beginnings
2. The Rise and Fall of Ragtime
3. The Jazz Age
4. Blues
5. The Swing Era
6. Boogie, Big Band Blues and Bop
7. Modern Jazz
8. The ABC’s of Jazz Improvisation

I really enjoyed this class as I have always liked Ragtime and Dixieland Bands and as I grew I, loved going to a place in Portland, Oregon called Jazz de Opus where they would have a trio playing or just some classic records that the owner had. Alas,
Mark Hiser
Feb 17, 2014 Mark Hiser rated it really liked it
I have been impressed with all of The Great Courses I have viewed or listened to over the years. This 8 lecture series on jazz is no exception. I only wish Bill Messenger made another more comprehensive series on jazz.
Apr 02, 2014 Rose rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is such a great short history of jazz/rags/blues/swing/and even ancient modes. Messenger tells great stories as teaching tools and has wonderful music samples that bring it home. For instance, he carries one tune across all the genres to compare the different styles--among many others. He also plays a brilliant piano in all these styles. So enjoyable on so many levels.
Connie D
Feb 07, 2016 Connie D rated it really liked it
Great intro to jazz. I appreciated the structure of these lessons, taking one type of jazz at a time and discussing it (and how they built on each other). What was explained in this audible has always eluded me in the past. Not being knowledgeable about music (I love it but don't know the terminology, etc.), this was mostly still understandable...but I can't swear I've got it permanently. It'd be a good one to listen to again in the future after more music listening.
Dec 13, 2014 Howdy rated it liked it
I've listened to a number of the Teaching Company courses. This one was ok but not awesome. Messenger is a pianist, and the best parts of the course are when he plays a little bit to explain something. However, the course is loosely structured, and portions of it (when he has guest performers, particularly) kind of wander.
Nov 11, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
This is a great Teaching Company course that introduces the listener to the world of jazz music. I give it 5 stars because I particularly enjoyed the early chapters on the evolution of musical styles that led to jazz. I still prefer classical music by far, but I enjoyed learning about this other musical world. I also very much enjoyed the lectures on ragtime music (think Scott Joplin) and big band music. The lecturer, Bill Messenger, also shared great stories and played the piano in various styl ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Heidi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-audible
Bill Glover
Jan 27, 2015 Bill Glover rated it it was amazing
Excellent Jazz 101. Leads to more time in the basement with the records.
Aug 24, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it
Learned a lot.
Halldór Thorgeirsson
May 24, 2014 Halldór Thorgeirsson rated it liked it
Shelves: music
This series of lectures was very enjoyable. Bill Messenger is warm and relaxed and clearly knows this stuff. He used his piano to illustrate what he was talking about and occasionally broad in other musicians.
Jan 25, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it
Highly recommended for the music history buff, or if you just want to know where the phrase "It'll be a cake walk" comes from.
Sep 26, 2008 Vinnydbullet rated it really liked it
Great to get a better idea of jazz with books on CD
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