Poised to become a classic of jazz literature, Visions of Jazz: The First Century offers seventy-nine chapters illuminating the lives of virtually all the major figures in jazz history. From Louis Armstrong's renegade-style trumpet playing to Sarah Vaughan's operatic crooning, and from the swinging elegance of Duke Ellington to the pioneering experiments of Ornette Coleman, jazz critic Gary Giddins continually astonishes the reader with his unparalleled insight. Writing with the grace and wit that have endeared his prose to Village Voice readers for decades, Giddins also widens the scope of jazz to include such crucial American musicians as Irving Berlin, Rosemary Clooney, and Frank Sinatra, all primarily pop performers who are often dismissed by fans and critics as mere derivatives of the true jazz idiom. And he devotes an entire quarter of this landmark volume to young, still-active jazz artists, boldly expanding the horizons of jazz--and charting and exploring the music's influences as no other book has done.
This massive volume is a history of sorts of the first century of jazz....Unlike too many others inside the little world of jazz, Giddins has an expansive, welcoming view of it....It may not have been intended as such, but Visions of Jazz is a celebration and reaffirmation of precisely that. -- The Washington Post