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The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia

As our murderous century draws to an end, surveys of its various arts are inevitable, and as a forerunner, Ted Gioia’s concise history is a fine achievement, its main text occupying only 400 pages-not too many to daunt the internerds! The book is in two equal parts, the second beginning with “Modern Jazz and The Birth of Bebop.”

Of the first, I can say that it is even-handed and gives a good picture of the peaks in what many still consider the greatest period of jazz. Some of the heroes, victims of compression or Gioia’s personal taste, are omitted or treated too briefly, such as Jimmy Harrison, J.C. Higginbotham, Trummy Young, Eddie South, Hilton Jefferson, Sidney DeParis and one heroine, Helen Humes. Otherwise, judgments and appraisals are well considered and enlightening.

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