January 19, 2017


The Music of Meaning : Review: Ted Gioia, 'How to Listen to Jazz' (Brock Dahl, January 15, 2017, Washington Free Beacon)

Amid the cacophony of the past year, one paean to improvised order emerged from the pen of music critic Ted Gioia. That book, How to Listen to Jazz, deserves your undivided engagement. Ultimately, Gioia tells you not only how to listen to jazz, but why.

In the mind, jazz may connote intellectuals in berets and irrelevant conversations. Yet in his succinct masterpiece, Gioia shows the genre to be something much more gritty and consequential. By the end of the sojourn through what Gioia terms the "soundtrack to American life," one learns to appreciate the art form on its own terms. More importantly, one is inclined to do the exact thing the author urges throughout his work--to listen.

The Godfather of Jazz in America, Gioia is best known for his prior epics on the genre, The History of Jazz and The Jazz Standards. For connoisseurs, those works remain foundational to a deeper understanding of the form. Yet in this much shorter work, the author teaches casual listeners how to experience jazz, and in doing so broadens their horizons.

Posted by at January 19, 2017 5:53 AM