Understanding Jazz by Tom Piazza
Ways to Listen

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review



“Jazz is primarily to be heard, to be experienced.”
–Tom Piazza, from the Introduction

Much more than just another history of this vital music and those who play it, Understanding Jazz is a multimedia master class and late-night jam session rolled into one–an indispensable guide to a deeper appreciation of jazz.

Jazz is America’s greatest indigenous art form, a musical hybrid whose origins are as mysterious, complex, and surprising as its evolution has proved to be. Written by Grammy award-winning author Tom Piazza and produced by the experts at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Understanding Jazz uses simple explanations and analogies to illuminate the basics of listening to a jazz performance: how to discern form, instrumentation, style, and intent.

Each of the book’s seven sections focuses on a particular aspect of the jazz vernacular, from the way individual instruments or voices come together yet remain distinct, to the spontaneous miracles of skilled improvisation, to the transcendent rhythmic qualities of swing and the enduring influence of the blues.

Specific points in the text are illustrated and reinforced on the accompanying CD in recordings that capture some of jazz’s most gifted musicians: Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie, among others.

A unique celebration of the influence of jazz on American life, this book and CD are perfect for both jazz enthusiasts and beginning listeners alike, initiating them into the exciting world of this singular style of music.

About Tom Piazza

See more books from this Author
Tom Piazza is the author of seven books, including the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award-winning The Guide To Classic Recorded Jazz and the widely acclaimed novel My Cold War. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Oxford American, and many other publications. He is the recipient of a James Michener Fellowship in Fiction and a 2004 Grammy Award for his album notes to Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues–a Musical Journey. He may be visited at www.tompiazza.com.Wynton Marsalis is the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis has won nine Grammy awards and his oratorio on slavery and freedom, Blood on the Fields, became the first and, to date, only jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize in music.
Published September 20, 2005 by Random House. 224 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Understanding Jazz

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

He devotes much space to the live improvisatory performances at the heart of jazz, examining the interplay between soloists and accompaniment, the use of chord changes as a harmonic ""understructure,"" the employment of small modular ""choruses"" like the 12-bar blues format to build up larger mu...

Sep 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Understanding Jazz: Ways to L...

Rate this book!

Add Review