Jazz, a People's Music

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9780717806706: Jazz, a People's Music

Traces the origins and development of all jazz styles, looks at the place of jazz in world music, and assesses its future. Discographies

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This reprint of Finkelstein's classic 1948 work is a welcome addition to the jazz aficionado's library. Finkelstein's thesis is clearly stated: 'The present book is aimed at breaking down barriers. There is first the barrier between jazz and concert music, each considering itself a world apart, although each suffers from the lack of qualities that the other possesses. 'Mere is, as well, the narrow partisanship that has grown up within jazz itself, seen for example in the cultist atmosphere that has grown about both bebop and the New Orleans revival. This seeking in music for a fad is a sign of immaturity among jazz followers. People come before music." Finkelstein maintains that the only legitimate divisions are '.good music" and "bad music" and that good music is fresh and does not merely imitate the past or what was deemed acceptable in the past. He does not simply define jazz; he encourages the reader to think about jazz in relation to our culture as a whole. Claiming that "jazz reasserts the truth that the creation of art is a social function; that music should be made for people to use," he describes jazz as a creative, living, changing art form in contrast to "the museum and connoisseur atmosphere that surrounds ['classical' musical culture]." Finkelstein's Marxist orientation is evident throughout the book. especially in relation to the low pay to blacks and the exploitation of musicians by the recording, radio and juke-box industries. Polemics aside, however, Finkelstein's book is first and foremost a book about jazz -a goldmine of information and instruction on what jazz is and how and where it developed. He successfully and appropriately places jazz in the context of music as a whole, clearly demonstrating his attraction to and appreciation for all categories of music-from "great Western composers" to blues influences to "classical" jazz greats to the newcomers (Parker, Gillespie, Monk, and others) who were shaking up the jazz scene when his book was written. He also describes the differences among and transitions between New Orleans jazz, Chicago jazz, Kansas City jazz, and bebop. Each of the first six chapters (die last chapter, seven, looks at the future of jazz) ends with a discography C'Record Illustrations") which lists recordings and artists referred to in each chapter. Though the listings are for 78 rpm records, this should pose no problem because of the many reissues of LPs and compact discs currently available. Geoffrey Jacques' engaging foreword places Finkelstein's book in the context of the 1940s and discusses the development of jazz in the forty years since then, insisting that it is still, for the most part, a music of the have-nots and that it must be allowed to leave the jazz clubs and enter the halls that symphony orchestras occupy, along with the tax money to support it in comparable ways. He also suggests that jazz musicians unite and bargain collectively to improve wages and working conditions. This book is a must for anyone who wants a solid foundation on which to build a knowledge and appreciation of jazz. Similar books have been written-some more comprehensive-but I would recommend this as highly as any. -- From Independent Publisher

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