April is Jazz Appreciation Month

Celebrate a style of music that is uniquely American with the Mercer County Library’s collection of books about jazz, as well as recordings by classic and contemporary jazz masters—from John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Pat Metheny and Dave Koz.

At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene
By Nat Hentoff
The author, a renowned jazz critic, civil liberties activist, and fearless contrarian, has lived through much of jazz's history and has known many of jazz's most important figures, often as friend and confidant. Hentoff has been a tireless advocate for the neglected parts of jazz history, including forgotten sidemen and -women. This volume includes his best recent work--short essays, long interviews, and personal recollections. From Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong to Ornette Coleman and Quincy Jones, Hentoff brings the jazz greats to life and traces their art to gospel, blues, and many other forms of American music. At the Jazz Band Ball also includes Hentoff's keen, cosmopolitan observations on a wide range of issues. The book shows how jazz and education are a vital partnership, how free expression is the essence of liberty, and how social justice issues like health care and strong civil rights and liberties keep all the arts--and all members of society--strong.

The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to the 21st Century
By Joachim-Ernst Berendt
For fifty years The Jazz Book has been the most encyclopedic interpretive history of jazz available in one volume. In this new seventh edition, each chapter has been completely revised and expanded to incorporate the dominant styles and musicians since the book’s last publication in 1992, as well as the fruits of current research about earlier periods in the history of jazz. In addition, new chapters have been added on John Zorn, jazz in the 1990s and beyond, samplers, the tuba, the harmonica, non-Western instruments, postmodernist and repertory big bands, how the avant-garde has explored tradition, and many other subjects.

Jazz
By Scott Knowles DeVeaux and Gary Giddins
In this vivid history of jazz, a respected critic and a leading scholar capture the excitement of America’s unique music with intellectual bite, unprecedented insight, and the passion of unabashed fans. They explain what jazz is, where it came from, and who created it and why, all within the broader context of American life and culture. Emphasizing its African American roots, Jazz traces the history of the music over the last hundred years. From ragtime and blues to the international craze for swing, from the heated protests of the avant-garde to the radical diversity of today’s artists, Jazz describes the travails and triumphs of musical innovators struggling for work, respect, and cultural acceptance set against the backdrop of American history, commerce, and politics. With vibrant photographs by legendary jazz chronicler Herman Leonard, Jazz is also an arresting visual history of a century of music.

The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965
By Sam Stephenson
“After having a breakdown in the midst of working on a photo-essay on Pittsburgh in 1957, legendary photographer W. Eugene Smith holed up in a loft in New York's Chelsea, in the Tin Pan Alley area. There, over the next several years, he became deeply embroiled in the New York City jazz scene, opening his home as a practice and performance space for some of the great artists of mid-century jazz, including Thelonious Monk, Zoot Sims and many others. Of course, he took pictures—both of musicians and of a window-size view of mid-century New York—and also wired the place for recording, logging hours and hours of tape, capturing the music and the talk around it. These photos and tapes had been thought lost—the stuff of rumor, buried in Smith's archive—until Stephenson dug them out and culled the best, along with transcriptions of material from the tapes, for this landmark book. Smith's stunning use of contrast makes figures like Monk seem dramatic and completely ordinary at the same time. The photos of the city offer a rare glimpse into a neighborhood being itself when it thought no one was watching. This will be an essential book for jazz fans, photography lovers and those interested in the history of New York.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life
By Wynton Marsalis
In this beautiful book, Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and composer Wynton Marsalis draws upon lessons he’s learned from a lifetime in jazz–lessons that can help us all move to higher ground. With wit and candor he demystifies the music that is the birthright of every American and demonstrates how a real understanding of the central idea of jazz–the unique balance between self-expression and sacrifice for the common good exemplified on the bandstand–can enrich every aspect of our lives, from the bedroom to the boardroom, from the schoolroom to City Hall. Along the way, Marsalis helps us understand the life-changing message of the blues, reveals secrets about playing–and listening–and passes on wisdom he has gleaned from working with three generations of great musicians. Illuminating and inspiring, Moving to Higher Ground is a master class on jazz and life, conducted by a brilliant American artist

- Lisa S.

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