READING JAZZ by Robert Gottlieb


A Gathering of Autobiography, Reportage, and Criticism from 1919 to Now
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 Jazz, like baseball, is an American cultural phenomenon and, like its sporting counterpart, has inspired a wealth of great writing. Former New Yorker and Alfred A. Knopf editor in chief Gottlieb, a relative newcomer to the ranks of jazz fans, has drawn on those riches for this enormous compilation of great nonfiction writing about the music, and his choices are astute ones. All the great names in jazz writing are here: Gary Giddins, Francis Davis, Gene Lees, Nat Hentoff, Leonard Feather, Whitney Balliet, and Martin Williams. Autobiographical material covers just about every major musician who ever put pen to paper (or voice to tape recorder). Gottlieb hasn't shied away from controversy, either, including such combative figures as James Lincoln Collier and Stanley Crouch (don't invite them to the same party!). There are even some unexpected literary lights like Jean-Paul Sartre. One might quibble with some of his choices of specific pieces, and there ought to be more than one entry from Lees, but this is a good introductory collection for the beginning jazz reader, and for the real aficionado, a nice smorgasbord to be dipped into at leisure. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-44251-0
Page count: 1088pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1996


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