Jazz in American Culture (American Ways Series)

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9781566631433: Jazz in American Culture (American Ways Series)
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This history of jazz, spanning the twentieth century, is the first to place it within the broad context of American culture. Burton Peretti argues persuasively that this distinctive American music has been a key thread in the tapestry of the nation's culture. The music itself, its players and its audience, and the critical debates it has prompted, tell us much about changes in American life since 1910. Mr. Peretti traces the emergence of jazz out of ragtime during a time of tumultuous growth of cites and industries. In the 1920s jazz flourished and symbolized the cultural struggle between modernists and traditionalists. As American sought reassurance and self-esteem during the Great Depression, jazz reached new levels of sophistication in the Swing Era. World War II encouraged rapid changes in popular tastes, and in the postwar decades jazz became both a voice of a globally dominant America and an avant-garde music reflecting social and political turmoil. Today, Mr. Peretti concludes, jazz symbolizes important cultural trends and enjoys a new prestige in a complex musical scene. Jazz in American Culture tells a peculiarly American story, evaluating the music as well as those who created it, and opening new perspectives on our cultural history.

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Review:

This brief but thorough survey is an accessible history of jazz, suitable for listeners new to the music and for those who have long been familiar with it. Burton W. Peretti takes as his thesis the notion that jazz is intimately linked with American history, "associated with the rise and fall of America's cities [and] with the fluctuating reputation of American culture around the world." In this examination of the music and the men and women who made it, Peretti traces the links between jazz and the culture that formed it (and that was, in turn, influenced by it).

About the Author:

Burton W. Peretti teaches the humanities at Pellissippi State College. His articles on the cultural aspects of jazz have appeared in a wide variety of magazines, and he has also written The Creation of Jazz.

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