Weather Bird

the state of jazz at the dawn of its second century This book covers the writing of prominent jazz critic Gary Giddins from 1990 to 2003. There are reviews of concerts and broadcasts, record reviews, and transcripts of interviews, but mainly reprints of the column entitled Weather Bird which he wrote for the Village Voice […]

Types of Jazz

traditional, swing, big band, be-bop, modern Types of jazz Jazz was born in New Orleans. It was a fusion of folk music, hymns, marching bands and ragtime music. The earliest musicians played military instruments left over from the Civil war – ones that were easily portable for the funeral parades in which they played a […]

The Rest is Noise

classical music in the twentieth century Alex Ross is the music critic for the New Yorker magazine who blogs prolifically at The Rest is Noise. And even though he doesn’t have comments switched on at his site, his postings are required reading for anyone who wants to keep abreast of classical music – especially as […]

The Oxford Dictionary of Music

definitions and an encyclopedia of musical matters Actually this is what should be called (for the want of a better term) a dictionary of classical music, because it does not seek to cover all musical genres. Entries run from the note A to the Polish soprano Teresa Zylis-Gara, and include major (and minor) composers plus […]

The Oxford Companion to Jazz

essays on jazz musicians and jazz history This latest addition to the distinguished Oxford Companion series comes with an encomium from record producer George Avakian: “No book on jazz has ever attempted the scope of this monumental collection of 60 studies by 59 writers. [It] is both a reference work for the scholar and a […]

The Life of Jimmy Scott

critical biography of major but under-appreciated singer I have to confess that I only heard of Jimmy Scott quite recently. Understandably so, it turns out. He’s one of the best kept secrets in the world of jazz and ballad singing. I heard his voice on a radio broadcast, was intrigued, bought a couple of CDs […]

The Blues – a very short introduction

history of blues music 1910 to the present Most people imagine that ‘the Blues’ is a form of musical expression characterised by mournful lamentations about life’s hardships or expressions of lost love. Ask any musician, and they will tell you that it’s the name of a musical form, moving from the tonic to the sub-dominant […]

Natural Selection

Gary Giddins on Comedy, Film, Music, and Books ‘A critic,’ Philip Larkin once declared, ‘is a man who likes some things and dislikes others, and finds reasons for doing so and for trying to persuade other people to do so.’ Gary Giddins has been doing this for many years. In several collections of jazz journalism […]

Maestros, Masterpieces and Madness

Secret Life and Shameful Death of the Classical Record Norman Lebrecht is a writer and pundit specialising in classical music who often appears on Radio 3 taking phone-in commentaries on what the BBC supposes to be very controversial topics such as “Should government subsidise the Arts?” and “Is the Internet taking over from print journalism?”. […]

Listen to This

essays on classical and contemporary music Listen to This is the follow up to Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century which was a huge success when it was published last year. His new book is a collection of essays which first appeared in The New Yorker where he is resident […]