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Jazz Icons


  • 10 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 230 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.63 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 781.6509
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: ML3508 .W53 2010
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Jazz musicians
    • Jazz--History and criticism

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521896450)

Today, jazz history is dominated by iconic figures who have taken on an almost God-like status. From Satchmo to Duke, Bird to Trane, these legendary jazzmen form the backbone of the jazz tradition. Jazz icons not only provide musicians and audiences with figureheads to revere but have also come to stand for a number of values and beliefs that shape our view of the music itself. Jazz Icons explores the growing significance of icons in jazz and discusses the reasons why the music's history is increasingly dependent on the legacies of 'great men'. Using a series of individual case studies, Whyton examines the influence of jazz icons through different forms of historical mediation, including the recording, language, image and myth. The book encourages readers to take a fresh look at their relationship with iconic figures of the past and challenges many of the dominant narratives in jazz today.

• Contains free-standing case study chapters on legendary figures including Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, which make the book well-suited to pedagogical use • Provides readers with fresh insights into the lives and music of jazz greats who still command a huge following • Draws upon examples from film, literature and advertising to provide a choice of approach for the reader


Introduction: jazz narratives and sonic icons; 1. Jazz icons, heroes and myths; 2. Jazz and the disembodied voice; 3. Not a wonderful world: Louis Armstrong meets Kenny G.; 4. Men can't help acting on impulse!; 5. Witnessing and the jazz anecdote; 6. Dispelling the myth: essentialist Ellington; 7. Birth of the school.


Review of the hardback: 'If the cultural construction of the music - including the education of young musicians - is to move beyond the individualist mythology into a more pragmatic sense of collective achievement, then we will indeed need, as Whyton says, a far more critical engagement with the existing icons of jazz.' Andrew Blake, The Times Higher Education Supplement

Review of the hardback: 'Jazz Icons is essential reading for anyone interested in better understanding their relationship with jazz icons and it will no doubt change the way many of us perceive our relationship with jazz. Highly recommended.' Ian Patterson,

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