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The Language of Jazz

Neil Powell

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Series: Language Of
Categories: Language
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. Nov 1997)
£9.95 £8.96
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
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  • 'I invented jazz in 1902,' said Jelly Roll Morton. He was in the right place at the right time -- New Orleans at the turn of the century -- so in a sense his claim is as good as anyone else's; but jazz actually evolved from a complex variety of sources, in which French and Spanish influences are as vital as those of blues, ragtime, spiritual and the American popular song. Like its near-contemporary sibling cinema, jazz is both an art-form almost exactly of the twentieth century and one which seems to be the new world's gift to the old.

    The word jazz itself did not begin to appear in print until around 1915 and was only gradually and grudgingly admitted into polite society: The Language of Jazz explores the fascinating vocabulary which has grown up around it. Entries include words unique to jazz (bebop, Dixieland, ragtime); ordinary words with specific jazz meanings (cool, jam, stride); musical terms adopted by jazz (bar, rhythm, swing); instruments particularly associated with jazz (alto, clarinet, trombone); nicknames of outstanding musicians (Bird, Duke, Satchmo); place-names linked to movements in jazz (Chicago, Harlem, Storyville), specialist record labels (Dial, Okeh, Savoy) and notable venues (Birdland, Cotton Club, Minton's).
    In a lively and provocative introduction, Neil Powell argues that the great era of jazz lies between the early 1920s (before which it still consisted of various formative elements) and the late 1970s (after which it began to merge inextricably with other musical forms). He suggests that 'jazz' will eventually describe a major musical style of the mid-twentieth century, rather as 'baroque' describes one of the early eighteenth century. The book will delight jazz lovers and provide for the unconverted a witty, informative tour of the subject.
    NEIL POWELL was born in London in 1948.  He was educated at Sevenoaks School, where he founded and edited the award-winning magazine Verve and wrote on jazz as a ‘young critic’ for The Daily Telegraph ; and at the University of Warwick, where he read English and American Literature (BA, 1966–9) ... read more
    Awards won by Neil Powell Winner, 2017 East Anglian Writers Book by the Cover Award (Was and Is) Winner, 2017  East Anglian Book Awards (for Poetry)
    (Was and Is)
    Praise for Neil Powell 'Throughout there are poems to and for friends and yet, paradoxically, Powell has the air of an outsider, solitary and watchful.' 

     D A Prince, the North

     ''Neil Powell's Was and Is: Collected Poems gathers together a lifetime of walking, seeing, reading and rhyming the landscapes of eastern England, and in particular the coast of Suffolk. The author's world of friends and books has a wide historical horizon, haunted by literary ghosts from George Crabbe to W.G. Sebald. This is a rich book full of the light of the changing seasons, the rhythms of weather and sea, and the little details of human life that add colour to every corner of these skilful, evocative, and painterly poems.''
    Dr Jeremy Noel-Tod (UEA), Poetry judge of the 2017 East Anglian Book Awards

    'Like ordinary people, poets long to be loved. But all that is necessary is that they should be understood.'
    Roy Fuller
         'His poetry has a rewarding range and depth, though memory and our ambivalent handling of memory is what he is best at. He is an elegiac poet, and in some ways a more valuable poet of loneliness than Larkin. Any younger reader who hasn't yet cottoned on to Powell should find this carefully considered 'Collected' rewarding: his is a quiet insistent voice at the heart of the tradition.'
    John Fuller

    'Neil Powell's poems are lucid, elegant, formal and humane .'
    Peter Scupham
    'An exceptional poet of place, and of the East Anglian coast in particular: Neil Powell's Selected Poems thoroughly defines the peculiar atmospheres of that bleak landscape and seascape...'
    New Statesman
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