Experiencing Big Band Jazz: A Listener’s Companion

Jeff Sultanof. Rowman & Littlefield, $38 (180p) ISBN 978-1-4422-4242-5
Big band jazz gets a concise, balanced analysis from Sultanof, a composer-arranger and professor at the Institute of Audio Research in New York City. Sultanof surveys the rise and fall of the music form from its American origins in 1918 through the early 1950s, when the public flocked to dance in packed clubs, to the present day. He examines the bands’ popularity through the lavish venues in which they played, and the arrival of radio, improved sound recordings, and booking agencies that brought talent to wider audiences. Sultan writes enthusiastically about the heralded ensembles and arrangements of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller (“Fred Astaire didn’t make too many records in his incredible career, but his meeting with the Goodman band and the sextet is pure magic,” Sultanof writes about the song “Just Like Taking Candy from a Baby”). He is especially astute in documenting the well-received bands of World War II, the yearlong musicians’ strike, the singers, the use of foreign rhythms, and the shift to smaller groups. His guide takes readers up through more recent arrangers Gil Evans, Gary McFarland, and Don Sebesky. Sultanof has written a handy, detailed reference for jazz music listeners. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
Open Ebook - 234 pages - 978-1-4422-4243-2
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