‘Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion’ Book Review

Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 94/100

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Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion By Bill Messenger

Audiobook Edition

Finished on 11/13/2017


Description: The uniquely American music and art form, jazz, is one of America’s great contributions to world culture. Now you can learn the basics of jazz and its history in a course as free-flowing and original as jazz itself. Taught by Professor Bill Messenger of the Peabody Institute, the lectures in this course are a must for music lovers.

Genres: Music, History, Nonfiction, African American History

There is no such thing as a mistake. There is only improvisation.

Spoiler-tastic review

Featuring plenty of samples of Jazz music, this lecture is fantastic and short. Talking about the history of Jazz, from the Cakewalk through the Blues and up until the Age of Rock.

This is the second time I’ve listened to this, but the last time was 6+ years ago so I remembered very little about this. For me listening to this was pure enjoyment. The music was cheerful, and the skill of the musicians was top notch.

The lecturer did a great job, in terms of both his skill as a performer and as a historian. He did a great job of synthesizing individual anecdotes and broad strokes of history. He talked about now (mostly) forgotten instruments such as the ‘bones’ and the banjo.

He provides some historical context, talking about WWI and Prohibition and Abolition and Jim Crow. He interview Jazz musicians, and teaches people how to improvise their music like a jazz musician.

Highly recommended.

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