New York City's Unseen Scene
Author: Thomas H. Greenland
An intimate account of jazz and community
Cloth – $110
Paper – $28
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Cloth: 04/04/2016
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About the Book

How do we speak about jazz? In this provocative study based on the author's deep immersion in the New York City jazz scene, Thomas H. Greenland turns from the usual emphasis on artists and their music to focus on non-performing participants, describing them as active performers in their own right who witness and thus collaborate in a happening made one-of-a-kind by improvisation, mood, and moment.

Jazzing shines a spotlight on the constituency of proprietors, booking agents, photographers, critics, publicists, painters, amateur musicians, fans, friends, and tourists that makes up New York City's contemporary jazz scene. Drawing on rich ethnographic research, interviews, and long-term participant observation, Jazzing charts the ways New York's distinctive physical and social-cultural environment affects and is affected by jazz. Throughout, Greenland offers a passionate argument in favor of a radically inclusive conception of music-making, one in which individuals collectively improvise across social contexts to co-create community and musical meaning.

An odyssey through the clubs and other performance spaces on and off the beaten track, Jazzing is an insider's view of a vibrant urban art world.

* Publication of this book was supported by a grant from the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About the Author

Thomas H. Greenland is a New York City–based guitarist, pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger, journalist, photographer, and educator.


"Those who think deeply and seriously about the fate and direction of jazz, America's unique musical art-form, will find it interesting and rewarding." --The Syncopated Times

"A strikingly thoughtful book."--Jazz Journal

"Written in a refreshing non-academic style . . . Jazzing offers a valuable portrait of the ever-changing New York jazz scene."--The New York City Jazz Record

"Jazzing is a veritable whirlwind of congruent, conflicting and overlapping points of view. From Greenland's wide-angle vantage point . . . the listening to, presenting, writing about, photographing, creating visual art during performances, and promoting of live jazz is loaded with an array of complex social, economic and personal factors."--All About Jazz

"Give[s] the audience - listeners, fans, and critics - alike a serious voice in the element of improvisation, which, in the case of jazz, is the key to its existence. . . . This book becomes well worth interacting with and becoming a part of the experience of its subject, i.e. Jazzing."--Jazz da Gama

"A very readable and entertainingly written book."--Jazzinstitut

"Jazzing offers a rich and unique analysis of the social and musical lives of nonperforming participants in New York City's jazz scene(s). . . . Thomas Greenland tells a story of the vast and varied positions in a musical community that are not only necessary for, but constituent to, the community continuing to thrive." --Jazz & Culture


"A probing, fascinating, and sensitive portrait of a community of 'jazz people,' Tom Greenland's Jazzing reminds us that jazz is not simply sound, but is a way of life that impacts us in profound and different ways."--Ken Prouty, author of Knowing Jazz: Community, Pedagogy, and Canon in the Information Age