THE GREAT JAZZ ARTISTS by James Lincoln Collier


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For readers of Collier's Inside Jazz who want to know a little more about the individuals who shaped the form, the author goes over much of the same territory but with a focus on the lives and careers. As before, the span is from Scott Joplin and Leadbelly to Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, and again explanations of African rhythms, syncopation, and the blue note are worked into the historical survey and the appreciations of each artist's contribution. Considering the liveliness of the subject it hardly seems fitting to learn it from someone who comes on so straight--informing us earnestly that ""Leaving moral questions aside Bix was already drinking more than was good for him"" (indeed, why drag them in?), or soberly explaining ""Jelly"" (Jelly Roll Morton) whose father abandoned the family and whose grandmother threw him out when he began playing in a brothel: ""Often when a person feels unwanted he will become an egotist and a boaster to give him a sense of his own worth, and I think this is what happened with Jelly."" But Collier is a conscientious researcher who doesn't swallow the prevailing myths (of Billie Holiday's lucky break, Bessie Smith's death); his chronology is laced with informed directives on ""what to look for"" in a particular artist or rendition; and he ends each chapter with a paragraph on further reading and recommended recordings.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1977
Publisher: Four Winds