The Washington Post has called Martin Williams "the most knowledgeable, open-minded, and perceptive American jazz critic today," and countless others share that sentiment. To Gary Giddins of the Village Voice he is "one of the most distinguished critics (of anything) this country has ever produced,: and Nat Hentoff has observed, "Martin Williams persistently gets at essences, and that is why he has contributed so much to the very small body of authentic jazz criticism."
A companion volume to his seminal, prizewinning The Jazz Tradition, this book is divided into four sections. The opening part is a collection of reviews and critiques of figures as diverse as Fats Waller and Count Basie, Bud Powell and Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald and the World Saxophone Quartet. The second section shows us musicians at work during rehearsals, recording dates, nightclub performances; these include Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Ornette Coleman. In a rare feature for a book on jazz, the third section brings together some of Williams's "liner notes"record annotations from outstanding LP albums by musicians from Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver through Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, and including Cecil Taylor. In the last section, Williams discusses some of the pboblems jazz has encountered as it has acquired intellectual and academic status, and there are some provocative comments on the black contribution to American musical theatre and whether or not the United States has a true folk music.
About the Author:
Martin Williams is the author of Where's the Melody?, Griffith: First Artist of the Movies, and TV: The Casual Art. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Village Voice, High Fidelity, Evergreen Review, Kulchur, Saturday Review, and The New York Times.