Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Marc Myers reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Marc Myers, author of Why Jazz Happened.

His entry begins:
I just finished Sean Wilentz’s 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story. Wilentz is a professor of history at Princeton University and author of Bob Dylan in America and other books on music and history. It’s a large, coffee table-sized book—which is fabulous, since music history is also about colorful record labels, dramatic album covers, eccentric artists and imposing personalities. You need to see what all of this looked like—from the portraits to the candids—to grasp the importance. But most of all, Wilentz is a first-rate social historian and storyteller who develops a superb narrative. I love music history books that approach their subject as a dramatic work, where the artists and executives are actors in an unfolding story with ups, downs and turning points. This book has it all—with the focus on...[read on]
About Why Jazz Happened, from the publisher:
Why Jazz Happened is the first comprehensive social history of jazz. It provides an intimate and compelling look at the many forces that shaped this most American of art forms and the many influences that gave rise to jazz’s post-war styles. Rich with the voices of musicians, producers, promoters, and others on the scene during the decades following World War II, this book views jazz’s evolution through the prism of technological advances, social transformations, changes in the law, economic trends, and much more.

In an absorbing narrative enlivened by the commentary of key personalities, Marc Myers describes the myriad of events and trends that affected the music's evolution, among them, the American Federation of Musicians strike in the early 1940s, changes in radio and concert-promotion, the introduction of the long-playing record, the suburbanization of Los Angeles, the Civil Rights movement, the “British invasion” and the rise of electronic instruments. This groundbreaking book deepens our appreciation of this music by identifying many of the developments outside of jazz itself that contributed most to its texture, complexity, and growth.
Read more about Why Jazz Happened at the book’s official site, and visit

Writers Read: Marc Myers.

--Marshal Zeringue