The influential but controversial German writer, broadcaster, and record producer , Joachim-Ernst Berendt (–), author of the world’s best-selling jazz. Author: Joachim-Ernst Berendt and Gunther Huesmann Price: $ Format: Paperback Book:The Jazz Book (Seventh Edition): From Ragtime to the 21st. Joachim-Ernst Berendt, a German writer who was best known as a jazz critic but who was also a radio and concert producer and the author of.
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To a young jazz fan like me, this was nothing less than a mineshaft filled with diamonds. Each gem was sharp-edged and clear.
Here was a book that did not get long-winded about this potentially blah-blah-blah topic. Philosophical in only small bursts, The Jazz Book was more like an interpretive encyclopedia than a history. It didn’t feature interviews or essays like most jazz books.
Rather, it attempted to explain the music in almost taxonomic terms. It broke the music down by decades, style periods, instruments, meanings. It passed judgment with quick elegant jaazz, just like I wanted it to, pronouncing certain players “the most important” and making clear-headed distinctions.
It read like a beginner’s guide that was written by an expert, and a canny one. That expert died in after publishing the sixth edition of The Jazz Book several years earlier. Berendt seemed beeendt have an inimitable attack as a writer—a pleasant but insistent bluntness that served to keep his book brief and cogent, if reductive. But this year brings the seventh edition, now co-authored by Gunther Huesmann. Huesmann’s introduction makes clear that he was one of Berendt’s admirers and acolytes, and his approach to The Jazz Book is respectful toward his late co-author.
Huesman certainly keeps this promise. The Seventh Edition is still mainly Berendt’s book, with Huesmann adding material on contemporary musicians that seems positively Berendt-esque.
Here is a classic bit from The Jazz Book ‘s chapter on tenor saxophonists, which slices up of musicians into ebrendt almost too narrow. Huesmann moves the discussion to “musicians influenced by rock and fusion”, then notes, “In the nineties, Michael Brecker was the most influential white tenorist.
He then moves to a list of players influenced by Brecker: The overriding structure of The Jazz Bookthen, is a branching tree. The section from which I was quoting was not discussing saxophonists, but tenor saxophonists.
And not just “tenorists” but those influenced by fusion.
And then such tenorists that are white. And influenced by Michael Brecker. Berendt and Huesmann quickly take you far out on a berenrt. It’s no surprise, then, that the book still contains on page three its classic branching diagram of the history of jazz in the first chapter, “The Styles of Jazz”: But coming from this basic chronology are myriad branches: I loved this page as a kid—its clarity and seeming inevitability.
Today, of course, I am painfully aware of how oversimplified it is. But that’s the niche of this book: Happily, the judgments are usually accurate, fair, and savvy. So “Paul Desmond was a particularly successful figure of the Konitz line”, and vibist “Stefon Harris picked up where Bobby Hutcherson left off”, and “Joanne Brackeen was the first person to create a new image of berebdt woman in jazz”.
Anyone looking for a basic guide to the stunningly wide spectrum of musicians and bands will find in The Jazz Book ‘s chapters on “The Instruments of Jazz” a kind of smartly annotated list. In other places, however, the jkachim is more vital. The chapter on “The Elements of Jazz” has held up well joachlm been revised for that purpose. Berendt and Huesmann start with “Sound and Phrasing” hazz hone in noachim on the truth that “in jazz, expression ranks above euphony”, and they give plain examples such as “the sorrow and lostness of Miles Davis” and “the joyful melancholy of Jan Garbarek”.
They also wisely connect this question of euphony to the fact that “Africans deported as slaves to the New World were forced to speak European languages” and to play on European instruments. Here, though The Jazz Book ‘s jazz history remains brief, it carries nuance. In the section on “Improvisation”, the book provides useful illustrations in the form of transcribed music on the staff, and it also makes useful reference to previous writing and commentary on jazz.
The Jazz Book has always been great about this—acting as a quick summary of the existing literature. Thus, the book is not only likely to get you to run out and listen to Kind of Blue but also likely to get you to joacjim Andre Hodeir or Paul F. Each section of this chapter is a gem—on joachin, gospel, harmony, and groove.
There’s enough subtlety here to fuel a good many debates about the chestnut, “What is jazz? Two early chapters also fare well: Here, Berendt and Huesmann deliver cogent summaries but also arguments for the kind of expansive view of the music in which they believe.
In the section on Wynton Marsalis, for example, they summarize the harsh critiques of Marsalis that he is too much an archivist, too suspicious of the avant-garde, too likely to hire only black musiciansbut they ultimately defend him with his considerable record of accomplishments.
In their section on the ’90s, they happily categorize “nu-jazz” gets plugged, and “Drum ‘n’ bass meets jazz”, and how this is all separated from M-BASE music but they ultimately argue that “the future of jazz lies in its intercultural potential”. The Jazz Book digs every style it can name, and it smiles on tomorrow. It’s a Big Tent view of jazz, and it mostly succeeds in making a believer of the reader.
In the books penultimate chapter, a chapter that dares to attempt a formal definition of “jazz”, they argue:. Last but not least, The Jazz Book contains a spot-on discography of 65 pages that identifies critical recordings for nearly every musician mentioned in its pages.
It nails the one Marty Ehrlich disc you ought to have Line on Lovefor the recordbut it also weeds through the catalogs of major figures like Gillespie and dispenses sharp advice about what a novice might want or need in a collection. While my pleasures in flipping through The Jazz Book remain, it’s best to imagine this kind-of-encyclopedia once again falling into the hands of an amateur, a mere beginner. It is that reader for whom the book can do the most good—arguing for the global view of the music but also unafraid to revel in the fun of pronouncing certain artists or recordings to be the better or more important ones.
The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to the 21st Century by Joachim-Ernst Berendt and Gunther Huesmann
Oh, how I wish that it was reasonable to find yourself in a bar, arguing the merits of Wynton Kelly versus Red Garland. The Jazz Book makes you believe that such a debate has a home, at least in its own opinionated, well-argued pages. Adam McKay’s gonzo Dick Cheney biopic satire, Vice, won’t be compared to Shakespeare, but it shares the Bard’s disinterest in supervillains’ motivations. The authors’ whose works we share with you in PopMatters’ 80 Best Books of — from a couple of notable reissues to a number of excellent debuts — poignantly capture how the political is deeply personal, and the personal is undeniably, and beautifully, universal.
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BERGHAHN BOOKS : The Return Of Jazz: Joachim-Ernst Berendt And West German Cultural Change
Books The Jazz Book: This digs every jazz style it can name, and it smiles on tomorrow. The Jazz Book Seventh Edition: From Ragtime to the 21st Century Length: The 80 Best Books of The authors’ whose works we share with you in PopMatters’ 80 Best Books of — from a couple of notable reissues to a number of excellent debuts — poignantly capture how the political is deeply personal, and the personal is undeniably, and beautifully, universal.
Losses, Journeys, and Ascensions: That’s a good thing. The 21 Best Album Re-Issues of Inthe music world saw amazing reissues spanning rock titans to indie upstarts and electronic to pop of all stripes. The 70 Best Albums of The 80 Best Books of The Best Metal of The 60 Best Songs of Jackie Chan’s 10 Best Films. The 21 Best Album Re-Issues of The Best Jazz of The Best World Music of The 20 Best Folk Albums of The 60 Best Songs of playlist Mixed Media.