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Visions of Jazz
Herman Leonard hide caption. Attempting to make your way into jazz is never easy, but the jazz writer and cultural critic Gary Giddins has just made my favorite four-letter word a little more approachable.
Jazzby Giddins and scholar Scott DeVeaux, is a new guide for novice listeners and longtime fans alike. Beyond the descriptions and definitions of what jazz is, who its major players are, and how it came to be and adapt in relation to American history, Jazz provides readers with an opportunity to become active listeners.
Landmark recordings tiddins condensed into a play-by-play commentary, allowing anyone to follow along with genius on display. I recently spoke with Gary Giddins about Jazz.
At the end of our interview, I asked him to select five songs from the book’s selected jazz recordings. These collected works were never meant to be a “Best Of” list, only an alphabetized guide to some jazz records that warrant your listening with an empathetic ear. As Giddins acknowledges, hardly anyone likes every style of jazz; tastes change and hopefully expand over time.
But as the book’s sole epigram, from Sidney Bechetstates: It’s that way with music, too. So enjoy a little sunshine. Here are Giddins’ selections and responses to each.
Gary Giddins: 101 Ways To Get Into ‘Jazz’
He technically picked six, but this Jimmy Lunceford track is not currently available commercially. It opens with a celeste, and it’s really corny.
I was 15, and heard that and thought, ‘Oh, God, this is sad. There’s an absolutely breathtaking vocal and then the solo. When it was over, I was literally in tears. It has such complexity and generosity of emotion so that, in under three minutes, you really feel like you’ve been someplace. It’s almost insignificant what the other musicians are doing around him, as long as they don’t get in his way.
Your purchase helps support NPR programming. Jaki Byard is a great ggiddins of mine. He was so neglected, but he could play anything.
He would play stride, swing, bop and free, as well as anybody was playing free.
Jazz by Gary Giddins
People thought there was something ironic or humorous about that, but he took it all serious. This record is just one of these sessions that they probably did in six hours in one day.
There’s a version of Eubie Blake’s “Memories of You” this is just mesmerizing. You’re just listening to two great instrumentalists [Byard and saxophonist Roland Kirk ] gayr what they can do, having the time of their lives, interacting and just playing everything they know on a ballad. Of course, he’s the center here, but these are duets. I love Kenny Barronbut I don’t think Kenny ever played better piano than he does here.
When Stan falters, and you can feel the fatigue, Kenny’s response is to just play more. What’s fascinating is that Gidins gets roused by this, and he comes back — God knows where he gets the energy — and yiddins plays harder than ever.
It just sits well with Getz’s timbre and approach, and Kenny is like a great fielder, cradling every note he plays.
It’s a jazzz of a lifetime. When Jason Moran did Modernisticyou realized that, in addition to all his incredible technique, he has both imagination and a rare intelligence that allows him to look in a lot of different directions. The more you listen to it, the more you admire his wit.
It’s a great place to begin your investigation of Jason Moran. A lot of people ignored George because they thought he was too intellectual or too difficult. The ensemble is only six pieces, but it sounds a lot larger. The harmonic texture sounds like giddjns you’ve never heard before. It’s a different Bill Evans than most of us know. Here, he pounds the keys like he’s Professor Longhairlike his fingers are pistons.
George Russell basically gave him the chords of ‘I’ll Remember April’ as a harmonic grid to improvise. If this record were made tomorrow, everybody would say how cutting-edge it is. It doesn’t sound dated in any way. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player.
His new book, Jazzis a new guide for novice listeners and longtime fans alike. Giddins picks five songs from his list of entry-way jazz recordings.
Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. November 17, 9: Jazz is available from Amazon. Basin Street Blues Audio for this story is unavailable. First Song For Ruth.
Concerto for Billy the Kid Audio for this story is unavailable. Web Resources Gary Giddins’ Site.