One thing we can be sure of is that jazz was invented in America.
From the small sunlit barns that dotted the Louisiana countryside around the turn of the century to the booming nightspots in New York in the 1920s, America has always been the home of jazz. But how did jazz get started? Who were its first musicians? And what was it about America that made it the birthplace of this century's greatest music?
Newbery Honor-winner and jazz critic James Lincoln Collier tackles these questions and others, tracing the history and evolution of jazz in America. Beginning with the African tribal music transported here by slaves, Collier reveals the roots of jazz in gospel and ragtime before launching into a discussion of Dixieland, swing, bebop, the cool school, free jazz, and fusion. Along the way, we meet the great personalities who shaped the music: giants like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, who brought jazz into the mainstream; mavericks like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, who toyed with its sound and structure; and avant-gardists like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, who revolutionized and reinvented jazz.
In this lively, sometimes controversial photo-filled account, Collier shows us how jazz became an international craze, all the while remaining as American as apple pie.