Ralph Ellison once said of jazz that it is the "brassy affirmation of the goodness of being alive". I like that. Because I have been re-reading Ellison I have also been reading about, and, of course listening to, jazz (and blues). A conversation I had with Gordon Lloyd last night makes me think that you might be interested in knowing that the three books I am currently reading on jazz are these:
Ted Gioia’s The History of Jazz, Marshall W. Stearns’ The Story of Jazz, and the wonderful Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told by the Men Who Made It (Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff). Of course, I claim no expertise in this matter (and says the voice, or any other), but I like these three books .
Ralph Ellison, writing in 1945, on the blues:
"The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically."