A Question For My Readers: How Do I Learn About Jazz?


I have a question for all of my musically informed readers.  I don’t know shit about jazz.  Where do I begin?

I have long wanted to understand jazz.  However, i was not raised on it.  It is such a large topic, and I understand so little about the form, what is good and what is bad, even what is the difference between the styles of jazz, that I don’t even know where to begin.  It’s like if you discovered China.  It is so big and foreign and new to you, that it is kind of intimidating.  Where does one even begin?

About a year ago I felt the same way about classical music.  However, I found a good book that explained the different kinds of classical music and gave introductions to many of the different styles and important pieces throughout the years.  Through Amazon deals I was able to acquire a pretty decent classical library for cheap.  There is still a great deal I have to learn about classical music, but I at least have enough of a basic understanding of its history to walk through the door and begin picking things I like.  I still can’t tell a good performance from a great one, but I can at least begin to form opinions about what kinds of classical music moves me.

I have two Miles Davis records.  I have Kind of Blue and In a Silent Way.  That is the extent of my jazz library and knowledge.  I like both of those.  Other than that I am completely ignorant of the form.  Is there a kind of book that discusses, in a musical way, the history of jazz?  Like I don’t want to read just stories of jazz musicians.  I don’t need to read about Miles Davis doing heroin.  I want a book that actually explains the music and why something was important or innovative?  What are different pieces trying to communicate?

Also, what are some of your favorite jazz records?

If you would rather talk to me in private that’s fine.  I have to approve each comment before it is made public.  You can send me your thoughts, your email address, and if you don’t want your comments made public, just state that.

I would be eternally grateful if anyone can show me the light.  Help make 2015 a year when my dumb ass finally learns to love and appreciate what millions of people already understand.  Lead me from the land of ignorance into the land of enlightenment!

2 thoughts on “A Question For My Readers: How Do I Learn About Jazz?

  1. I have also gotten more into jazz lately. I haven’t read any books on the subject though I am sure they are out there. I haven’t listened to much recent jazz, e.g., Herbie Hancock or others, although lots of Antibalas for example…been fascinated by artists like Charles Mingus (lots of innovation). Listened to Dave Brubeck lately and Duke Jordan whose fingers seemed to float across the piano…anyways jazz musicians seemed to be incestuous so if you read about one you’ll be introduced to many more. Ethiopian and African jazz is also very cool and different from American jazz… is Antibalas’ root influence I think.

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