5 Essential Books on Jazz History

Here are 5 essential books that explore the sociopolitical and historical contexts of jazz music.


Lowney1. Jazz Internationalism By John Lowney

“Indispensable to African American literary and cultural studies, jazz studies, and internationalist leftist studies. Its discussion of how jazz is called forth as a form of utopianism as well as social and political criticism in radical African American writing marks an important step in the contemporary critical reconsideration of how conventionally discrete areas of history and culture may be seen in intersectional terms.”–Gary Edward Holcomb, author of Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance





2. Le Jazz By Matthew F. Jordan

“This illuminating study of cultural discourses on jazz makes an original contribution to French popular music studies. Jordan scrutinizes an impressively wide range of texts, with perceptive and astute analyses.”–David Looseley, author of Popular Music in Contemporary France: Authenticity, Politics, Debate







stanfield3. Body and Soul By Peter Stanfield

“[An] absorbing and convincing account of white America’s fraught, imitative, fascinated, repressive and denial-ridden relationship with black culture.”–The Wire 








DuewaJones4. The Muse is Music By Meta DuEwa Jones

“Meta DeEwa Jones’s recent tour de force of contemporary criticism, The Muse is Music, most certainly must take its place among classic and recent critical studies of African-American poetry and, as Jones describes her topic, ‘jazz resonant’ writing.”—The Black Scholar







josephson5. Cafe Society By Barney Josephson with Terry Trilling-Josephson

Cafe Society is a valuable document in the long, complex tale of America’s popular culture. Barney Josephson played his part in that tale, and played it with honor. And he certainly had a long run.”–The Wall Street Journal


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