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Going Inside Jazz With Wynton

Of the many books on jazz I’ve read, much of the permanent illumination has come from those written by the musicians themselves. I can now add to the list Wynton Marsalis’ Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life (Random House). I don’t look for analysis of techniques. That’s obviously not my bag. I want to know more of the musicians, and how they hear one another. Wynton gets into the jazz experience from the inside. (Geoffrey C. Ward helped in the structure of the book; Wynton wrote it.)

A perpetual student, “I’m always reading,” Wynton has said. “And listening.” Soon after he came to New York from New Orleans, he found how much he had to learn. One night, Harry “Sweets” Edison “called a slow blues. ‘Man,’ Sweets said when it was done, ‘you just played more notes than I played in my entire career.’ Implied in that was ‘And you didn’t say anything.'”

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