Daniel Matlin

Innovators & Impresarios

Conversations in Jazz: The Ralph J Gleason Interviews

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Yale University Press 276pp £20 order from our bookshop

Jazz Worlds/World Jazz

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University of Chicago Press 496pp £24.50 order from our bookshop

Two more contrasting books about jazz would not be easy to find. Conversations in Jazz, comprising transcripts of interviews conducted by the music journalist Ralph Gleason during the 1950s and early 1960s, embellishes and lends intimacy to canonical jazz history. Through Gleason, and often in his Berkeley home, we meet fourteen renowned musicians, all American, all male, from one of jazz’s most storied periods. These were years that brought the fruition of hard bop and modal jazz, represented here by Horace Silver and Bill Evans respectively, the latter in his collaboration with Miles Davis on Kind of Blue. They also witnessed the dramatic early expressions of free jazz, including those of the book’s first interview subject, John Coltrane. Meanwhile, Jazz Worlds/World Jazz, a collection of eighteen scholarly essays, has as its purpose the interruption of all such settled familiarity.

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