Reading Jazz by David Meltzer

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Has jazz become a white invention, "neutralized" by the attempts of white critics to describe, define, and even defend a black form of expression? Such is the provocative argument that emerges from David Meltzer's compilation of controversial and thought-provoking writings on jazz from the early decades of this century to the present. This diverse anthology of writings on jazz not only charts the evolution of a musical form, it also reflects evolving racial and cultural conflicts and stereotypes. An unusual source book of jazz history, Reading Jazz examines its roots and its future as well as its links to and influence on other forms of modern cultural expression. David Meltzer artfully juxtaposes a variety of texts to explore the paradox of jazz as an art form perceived as both primitive and modern, to consider the use of jazz as a metaphor for new attitudes, to show how it was mythopoeticized and demonized, to view jazz as a focus for a variety of cultural attitudes, and to probe its relation to other aspects of modern culture. Arranged historically, both literary and popular texts are included, reflecting the interplay of jazz with both high and low culture, from such contributors as Hoagy Carmichael, Artie Shaw, Norman Mailer, Art Pepper, Simone de Beauvoir, Julio Cortazar, William Carlos Williams, Robert Creeley, and many more. Reading Jazz will be indispensable not only for jazz enthusiasts but also for anyone interested in the evolution of modern culture.

About David Meltzer

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David Meltzer has published numerous works of poetry, fiction, and collections of essays. He has also released four albums of recordings on the Vanguard and Capitol labels.
Published August 19, 1993 by Mercury House. 332 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Meltzer's dubious thesis, that jazz is a black music usurped by white critics and later by white musicians, and that the history of jazz is also the history of racism, is weak but does not ultimately interfere with an otherwise intriguing study.

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