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American Pop: From Minstrel to Mojo on Record 1893-1956 by Allen Lowe

As though the history of jazz and blues were not now long and complicated enough, Allen Lowe views it here in relationship to that of American popular music as a whole. (So much for “America’s classical music,” eh?) The result is decidedly entertaining, if at times bewildering. While the title may put off jazz lovers, the book is one that can probably be profitably read by most of them.

The author has strongly held opinions and disagrees with many critical mythologies, but he presents his arguments with fair-minded pros and cons. The cross-fertilization of black on white and white on black is a central theme, one made inevitable by records and radio for so much of the century chronologically examined up to his cut-off year of 1956.

There is an extensive and valuable bibliography under some eighteen different headings. For those with nerves of steel and catholic taste, a nine-CD companion is apparently available from the book’s distributors.

Originally Published