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Jazz: Staff Recommendations

A guide to research materials for the serious jazz scholar as well as books, sound recordings, and videos for the jazz enthusiast.


How to Listen to Jazz, by Ted Gioia (2016)

  • The Kansas City sound: "It could be intimate or rollicking, bouncy or bluesy, romantic or edgy, but with no rough edges, and always conveying a sense of sociability and fun."
  • Free jazz: "Instead of counting beats or seeking out structural landmarks, ride the flow of the performance. Consider it as a kind of aural landscape, a wild one where the symmetries of streets and borders are no longer there to guide you, but which is all the more exciting for their absence."
  • Thelonious Monk: "More than any other jazz artist, Monk teaches us that an artist's style is like a sailing ship: those who make the most progress are often the most ruthless in throwing excess baggage overboard."

 Zappa and Jazz: Did It Really Smell Funny, Frank? by Geoff Wills (2015)

"I love it....The whole thing is fascinating. I learned so much! Really well-researched and written!"

-- Saxophonist Ed Palermo (whose big band has recorded four albums of Frank Zappa's music)

What would it be like to hang out with Miles Davis for a day?

Don Cheadle co-wrote, directed, and stars in this fictionalized account of a day spent chasing down a stolen demo tape. Ewan McGregor co-stars as a music journalist who becomes Davis's sidekick as they become involved in high-speed car chases and gritty drug deals. But the real focus of the film is on the emotional life of Miles Davis during the 1970s, and in particular his stormy relationship with his first wife, Francis Taylor (whose image is featured on several of his iconic album covers).

We have this DVD available for check out on our Browsable DVD Collection shelves!

Other jazz-related feature films in our collection include: Whiplash, Bird, Round Midnight, Born to Be Blue, and Lady Sings the Blues.