Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion : The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Bill Messenger
  • Series: The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music
  • 5 hrs and 59 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Jazz is a uniquely American art form, one of America's great contributions to not only musical culture, but world culture, with each generation of musicians applying new levels of creativity that take the music in unexpected directions that defy definition, category, and stagnation.
Now you can learn the basics and history of this intoxicating genre in an eight-lecture series that is as free-flowing and original as the art form itself. You'll follow the evolution of jazz from its beginnings in the music and dancing of the antebellum plantations to its morphing into many shapes as its greatest innovators gave us ragtime, the blues, the swing music of the big band era, boogie-woogie, and big band blues.
You'll follow the rise of modern jazz in all of its many forms, including bebop, cool, modal, free, and fusion jazz. And you'll learn how the course of jazz was changed by key technological innovations, such as the invention of the microphone, which allowed smaller-voiced singers like Bing Crosby or Mel Torme to share a limelight once reserved for the bigger voices of stars like Bessie Smith or Al Jolson.
Beginning the story on those antebellum plantations, Professor Messenger reveals how the "cakewalks" of slave culture gave birth to a dance craze at the end of the 19th century that was ignorant of its own humble roots. And he explores the irony of the minstrel shows, which derived from Southern beliefs of black cultural inferiority yet eventually spawned a musical industry that African-American musicians would dominate for decades to come.
As a bonus, the lectures are also very entertaining, with Professor Messenger frequently turning to his piano to illustrate his musical points, often with the help of guest artists.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent introduction to The history of Jazz

Where does Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have listened to a lot of Great Courses. This is one of the best. It is very accessible, entertaining and illustrated with examples played by the lecturer who is a fine jazz pianist.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion?

One of Rachmanino's prelaudes was being 'ragged' when the composer (unknown to the pianist) was in the room....but I won't spoil the story.


What about Professor Bill Messenger’s performance did you like?

Bill Messenger is a fine jazz player and loves his subject. This came across very clearly in the course. An inspirational teacher.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not advisable. I would recommend listening to some of the music talked about after each lecture.


Any additional comments?

The course material is adequate but not as comprehensive as some other courses. And I wish the course was longer!

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- Fatmusketeer

Absolutley fantastic!

Hands down one of the best lectures i've heard! Jazz history with examples.A great listen!
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- MR B ALLDIS

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-07-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses