Jazz in American Culture offers an informed and entertaining introduction to jazz - one of the great musical cultures of the world.
The book looks at jazz both as a music and as a culture within the wider American context, and aims to open up the subject to the non-specialist. It examines the social and institutional structures that have underpinned the music at particular stages in its history, from the 1930s through to the present, and considers its place as a component of the entertainment industry. Among the musicians introduced are Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday and Lester Young.
Peter Townsend's distinctive approach to his subject includes a consideration of representations of jazz in other art forms, including films and literary texts, such as the fiction of Ralph Ellison, Jack Kerouac and Toni Morrison, and the poetry of Langston Hughes. He also introduces the work of jazz-influenced painters such as Stuart Davis and Jackson Pollock, and discusses the significance of photography in jazz.
The book also explores the influence of jazz on other art forms, the 'mythology' of jazz, its place in consumer culture and its relation to a number of issues, such as ethnicity and individualism, that have affected American art and society.
This book will be of lasting interest to anyone with a passion for jazz music.
About the Author
A detailed account of the history and theory of jazz music that is broad and deep but still greatly accessible. … Townsend’s discussion of jazz’s influences on writers such as Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac are enlightening and accessible. Townsend challenges the curious reader to go beyond a traditional understanding of what music is and does and look at it in a broader social context.
An outstanding book! Readable, knowledgeable and insightful. I read it from cover to cover once I started it.
It is quite some time since I found a scholarly tract on jazz both so invigoratingly instructive and enjoyable to read...like all really good writers Townsend has the ability to render complex and even daunting material readily accessible, thanks to a lucid style further strengthened by an instinctive eye for sharp detail and apposite quotation.
Townsend’s writings on jazz are presented in a different way. He looks at how jazz went beyond music and infiltrated culture. His essays show how jazz is represented in other art forms, including film and literary text such as the fiction of Ralph Ellison, Jack Kerouac and Toni Morrison, along with the poetry of Langston Hughes.Townsend also introduces the work of jazz-influenced painters such as Stuart Davis and Jackson Pollock and discusses the significance of photography in jazz.