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In Paper, Briefly

Black Music by Leroi Jones (221 pp., Da Capo, $14.95) was first published in 1968. Thirty years later the book still has an immediacy from the fact that its author was listening to the “new music” in clubs and talking to the musicians. The severe opening chapter is devoted to “Jazz and the White Critic” and plenty of argument ensues. But on page 187 one reads: “Avant garde, finally, is a bad term because it also means a lot of quacks and quackers, too.” What exactly did he mean by that?

The Devil’s Music: A History of the Blues by Giles Oakley (311 pp., Da Capo, $14.95) is, as critic Francis Davis rightly noted, “one of the essential books on the blues.” Well written and researched, it is loaded with valuable insights.

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Originally Published