Synopses & Reviews
Why Jazz Happened
is a fantastic, eye-opening unfolding of the music and musicians who developed this spell-binding art between World War II and Watergate. Marc Myers shatters myths here, and treats jazz history like an epic saga. I lived and breathed this period during my extensive career in jazz, and this book brings a new perspective to the music's golden era.”Creed Taylor, multi-Grammy Awardwinning jazz producer
"Marc Myers's Why Jazz Happened is the first wide-ranging social history of jazz, a highly original attempt to portray and understand the music's evolution by looking at it through the prism of non-musical historic events. The result is a book that will shape the way all subsequent commentators think and write about jazz history."Terry Teachout, author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong
For newcomers to jazz and the global audience for whom this music is a vital part of their lives, Marc Myers has written a deeply illuminating and engaging portrait of the essence of jazz. He writes from the inside of jazzthe experiences of the musicians themselves, on the stand and in their own lives. This book is full of surprises. I lived and wrote during much of this period, but I found here a lot that I didnt know."Nat Hentoff, author of At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene
"On February 26, 1917, a group of musicians calling themselves the Original Dixieland Jass Band assembled in the studio of the Victor Talking Machine Company, played two songs into a long metal horn that served as a microphone, and a few weeks later made history by releasing the first 78-rpm recording of jazz. In this energetic and captivating tale, Wall Street Journal music contributor Myers enthusiastically chronicles the many social, political, legal, and monetary forces outside of music that shaped the evolution of jazz. With impeccable timing, Myers provides a steady backbeat of stories of the development of music from bebop, jazz-classical, and West Coast jazz, to spiritual jazz, jazz-pop, and jazz-rock fusion. While jazz could never have developed without the brilliant musicians whose stories he narrates from Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock the rise of electronic instruments, the civil rights movement, the advent of musicians' unions, and new recording technologies catapulted the musical form and its players squarely into the evolving history of American music. In the 1950s, as they discovered that more music was needed to fill the longer format of albums, hard bop musicians began licensing their compositions through BMI, making available a greater percentage of original work on these albums. Myers's first-rate social history, like a great jazz recording, pulls us into its complex rhythms and harmonies, casting its mesmerizing spell." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A highly engaging, thoroughly researched book.”
“Why Jazz Happened' Makes Its Points Like a Snazzy Lawyer in the Courtroom: Zip, Zam, Zot. . . . Students and fans of jazz will come away enlightened about a huge part of the jazz story that has been mostly untold, before this otherwise intelligent and well-reported book was published.”
“A needed historical overview. . . . Myers presents his argument of ‘why jazz happened in a concise, powerfully convincing style. . . . Highly recommended.”
“Myers has managed to come up with a fresh take on the [history of jazz's evolution].”
“Myers has managed to come up with a fresh take on the [history of jazz's evolution].” G. A. Akkerman, University of South Carolina Upstate - Choice
"Excellent new jazz history. . . . A refreshingly concrete volume on a genre that stubbornly, sometimes proudly, refuses to be defined."
"Gregory Clark is very good on Burke, explaining concepts at once readable and eminently teachable. He makes Burke not just accessible but attractive to cultural critics…. Clark begins by setting up both Burke and jazz as lively, mobile, aspirational entities and then proceeds to discuss them in an interwoven way that inspires more connections—not just between them, but as in the manner of jazz, from them.”
"Kenneth Burke and the aesthetic and rhetorical ties that bind communities and cultures: these are the great passions that have always animated Greg Clark's career. Now in this intensely personal and illuminating study, he adds to his equations a third passion—jazz—and the mix brings us both illumination and access to a successful art of living."
“A provocative, well-written, original study of how Kenneth Burke and jazz musicians in performance both explore the complications of achieving e pluribus unum—the ‘impossible American ought,' the many-in-one, the one-in-the-many.”
"A great read for both Burkeans and readers new to Burke, Civic Jazz exhibits Greg Clark's remarkable talent for applying Burke in original ways, here not just to civics, not just to jazz, but to both together. Burkeans will see Burke in new contexts, prompting fresh thoughts. Readers new to Burke will no doubt go on to buy their first Burke book."
“This book could not have come along at a better time. Clark's incisive exploration of the concurrent streams of American ingenuity and the essence of the American experiment document some of the most vital contributions made to American culture in the course of the last century. What I find so thrilling about his conclusions is that they integrate the improvisatory nature of jazz itself with the American experiment, informed by such notables as Kenneth Burke and Albert Murray, and contemporary leading lights Marcus Roberts and Wynton Marsalis. This is a book that should be on every bookshelf and closely read by anyone with a serious stake in how we got where we are and where we might be lucky enough to be going.”
"Why Jazz Happened contains a treasure trove of insider information . . . a valuable addition to readings in jazz history."
“In seven entertaining chapters, Clark builds a strong case out of the many similarities both jazz culture and American democracy offer: namely freedom (of expression), self-determination and equality.”
Why Jazz Happened
is the first comprehensive social history of jazz. It provides an intimate and compelling look at the many forces that shaped this most American of art forms and the many influences that gave rise to jazzs post-war styles. Rich with the voices of musicians, producers, promoters, and others on the scene during the decades following World War II, this book views jazzs evolution through the prism of technological advances, social transformations, changes in the law, economic trends, and much more.
In an absorbing narrative enlivened by the commentary of key personalities, Marc Myers describes the myriad of events and trends that affected the music's evolution, among them, the American Federation of Musicians strike in the early 1940s, changes in radio and concert-promotion, the introduction of the long-playing record, the suburbanization of Los Angeles, the Civil Rights movement, the British invasion” and the rise of electronic instruments. This groundbreaking book deepens our appreciation of this music by identifying many of the developments outside of jazz itself that contributed most to its texture, complexity, and growth.
"Why Jazz Happened
is a fantastic, eye-opening unfolding of the music and musicians who developed this spell-binding art between World War II and Watergate. Marc Myers shatters myths here, and treats jazz history like an epic saga. I lived and breathed this period during my extensive career in jazz, and this book brings a new perspective to the music's golden era."--Creed Taylor, multi-Grammy Award-winning jazz producer
"Marc Myers has produced a deeply illuminating and engaging portrait of the essence of jazz, as it is experienced by the musicians themselves. Why Jazz Happened makes it clear why this music continues to exert such a strong influence around the world. There is much to learn from here, both for newcomers to jazz and for such longtime historians of the music as myself."--Nat Hentoff, author of At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene
Jazz is born of collaboration, improvisation, and listening. In much the same way, the American democratic experience is rooted in the interaction of individuals. It is these two seemingly disparate, but ultimately thoroughly American, conceits that Gregory Clark examines in Civic Jazz.
Melding Kenneth Burkes concept of rhetorical communication and jazz musics aesthetic encounters with a rigorous sort of democracy, this book weaves an innovative argument about how individuals can preserve and improve civic life in a democratic culture.
Jazz music, Clark argues, demonstrates how this aesthetic rhetoric of identification can bind people together through their shared experience in a common project. While such shared experience does not demand agreementindeed, it often has an air of competitionit does align people in practical effort and purpose. Similarly, Clark shows, Burke considered Americans inhabitants of a persistently rhetorical situation, in which each must choose constantly to identify with some and separate from others. Thought-provoking and path-breaking, Clarks harmonic mashup of music and rhetoric will appeal to scholars across disciplines as diverse as political science, performance studies, musicology, and literary criticism.
About the Author
Gregory Clark is University Professor of English at Brigham Young University. He is the author of Rhetorical Landscapes in America: Variations on a Theme from Kenneth Burke and coeditor of Trained Capacities: John Dewey, Rhetoric, and Democratic Practice and Oratorical Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Transformations in the Theory and Practice of Public Discourse.
Table of Contents
1. Record Giants Blink
2. DJs, Promoters, and Bebop
3. G.I. Bill and Cool
4. Speed War, Tape, and Solos
5. Suburbia and West Coast Jazz
6. BMI, R&B, and Hard Bop
7. Bias, Africa, and Spiritual Jazz
8. Invasion and Jazz-Pop
9. Alienation and the Avant-Garde
1. Lights, Volume, and Fusion
11. Jazz Hangs On