I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2015. The challenge is to read books that you already own.
This 1975 history of jazz introduces young adult readers to the history and elements of jazz music. It covers the usual territory, from field calls and spirituals to the jazz rock of Weather Report in the early 1970s.
The contributions of famous players such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbeck, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, and many others are recounted in clear prose though the high school level of difficulty makes it almost too easy to read. As the biggest recommendation, she suggests what records to listen to.
Obviously, the drawback is that this is dated. Since 1975, various newer histories have been published. The other drawback is, that considering the audience and the time, she had to be vague about what really attracted fun-lovers to Storyville, the red light district in New Orleans. She traces jazz from whorehouse to speakeasy to club to Carnegie Hall as discreetly as she can.