This book is "one of the great books on jazz," according to the New York Times Book Review. For thirty years, beginning in the mid-twenties, Marshall Stearns listened to Jazz, read about it, and talked to all the musicians who played it that he could discover. The result in this superlative history, the first and the most renowned systematic outline of the evolution of this unique American musical phenomenon. Mr. Stearns tells how the African Negro's musical heritage joined with European forms in the New World. He discusses work songs, spirituals, and blues; the birth of jazz in New Orleans and its dissemination to St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York. He follows its course through the era of swing and bop to the beginnings of rock and the 'fifties, vividly depicting the great innovators and popularizers, as well as covering such technical elements as the music's form and structure.
The effect of jazz upon American culture and the American character has been all-pervasive. It has become a major cultural export, and recently, reshaped by the countries it has conquered, a major cultural import as well. Jazz is a fact that must be faced, and studied, and there is no better way to find out about it than in the pages of Mr. Stearn's book.