Read How to Listen to Jazz by Ted Gioia Online


"Mr. Gioia could not have done a better job. Through him, jazz might even find new devotees." --The EconomistIn How to Listen to Jazz, award-winning music scholar Ted Gioia presents a lively introduction to the art of listening to jazz. He tells us what to listen for in a performance and includes a guide to today's leading jazz musicians. From Louis Armstrong's innovative"Mr. Gioia could not have done a better job. Through him, jazz might even find new devotees." --The EconomistIn How to Listen to Jazz, award-winning music scholar Ted Gioia presents a lively introduction to the art of listening to jazz. He tells us what to listen for in a performance and includes a guide to today's leading jazz musicians. From Louis Armstrong's innovative sounds to the jazz-rock fusion of Miles Davis, Gioia covers the music's history and reveals the building blocks of improvisation. A true love letter to jazz by a foremost expert, How to Listen to Jazz is a must-read for anyone who's ever wanted to understand America's greatest contribution to music....

Title : How to Listen to Jazz
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780465060894
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

How to Listen to Jazz Reviews

  • Jury Razumau
    2019-03-20 18:08

    Spotify playlists:,

  • Martin
    2019-03-15 19:27

    Hands down, one of the best books on jazz I have ever read. And easily the best book on trying to explain jazz. If you are just dipping a toe in the great ocean that is jazz, or if you have been enjoying this music for decades, this is a book that will increase your understanding and enjoyment of this music. It's already altered the way I listen to music, and I've been listening to jazz since the early eighties. I think it helps that Ted Gioia is a musician himself. How to listen to jazz is also very refreshingly free of ideology. Ted Gioia simply wants you to listen to and enjoy the music for its own sake. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  • Olive (abookolive)
    2019-03-12 23:06

    See my review on booktube:

  • Iris Nuțu
    2019-03-15 21:24

    4.5 stars, actually. I only give ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ to books that I feel I could start reading again the moment I have read the last word on the last page, which is obviously not the case right now - but still. This was amazing.I've just finished reading this book (and when I say reading I mean reading & listening to Gioia's recommendations) and I've been sitting here for the last couple of minutes, listening to random jazz on Spotify, having coffee and a cigarette and simply being grateful that such a book exists.Because I believe that, given the way in which jazz is commonly perceived nowadays - especially by my generation - we are in great need of such writings. I imagine that the cases in which this book miraculously lands in the hands of a person who does not know anything about or has no appreciation whatsoever for jazz are very rare and that most of Ted Gioia's readers are already genuinely interested in the subject. But I still think that the mere existence of this book might influence someone to reconsider their feelings towards this genre - and that's honestly enough for me. Because, although indeed sophisticated and complex, jazz has never been and should never be considered an unfathomable kind of music. Jazz is for everyone. And that's precisely what Ted Gioia wanted us to remember, when he wrote How to Listen to Jazz.

  • Guy
    2019-03-20 21:04

    Well written, but foremost aimed at (and useful for) newcomers to jazz.

  • Marc
    2019-03-01 21:01

    Picked this up while randomly perusing the shelves at the library. It turned out to be a delight. Gioia is as big a fan of jazz as he is a learned critic. He starts out by talking about really using your ears to listen to the music, gives a little background on rhythm and structure, then moves from the origins of jazz through each type of style/era (complete with recommended songs/artists for each period of innovation), and then closes with some of his favorite innovators (Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman).I was going to try list and link to all the recommendations, but there are just too many. Instead, I'll simply link to a few of my favorite jazz songs below this review.------------------------------------------WORD I LEARNED WHILE READING THIS BOOKostinato------------------------------------------A few of my favorites...- "Watermelon Song" (William Parker)- "Blue Pepper" (Duke Ellington)- "C Jam Blues" (Louis Armstrong)- "Turnaround" (Joshua Redman)- "Bird's Lament" (Moondog)- "My Funny Valentine" (Sarah Vaughan)- "Blue Moon" (Billie Holiday)- "Paranoid Android" (Brad Mehldau)- "Mad World" (Postmodern Jukebox)

  • Bob O'bannon
    2019-02-28 23:14

    There are so many people who love jazz, and who speak of it with such passion and devotion, that I have always concluded that my own indifference to the genre must be the fault of me, not the music. So what could be more fitting than a book titled "How to Listen to Jazz"? It is clear that Ted Gioia not only loves jazz, but wants you to love it too. In clear and understandable language, he explains essential musical concepts as dynamics, phrasing, pitch, and personality. He gives helpful summaries of the major sub genres of jazz – swing, bebop, cool jazz, fusion, etc., while also explaining the significance of jazz giants like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. And he does it all without a hint of elitism or condescension.Probably most helpful to me as a fan primarily of pop, rock and folk is the realization that jazz is not focused on replication. Every other musical genre seeks to repeat what was originally written and recorded, but with jazz, the distinctive element is spontaneity. Jazz is never the same, which explains why you'll see so many jazz artists doing their own versions of the same classic songs. Jazz's goal is not to repeat the song, but to explore it, reinvent it, and even deconstruct it. In contrast to the "realm of perfect replication," jazz is for those "who want to be in attendance when the miracle happens." (49).I doubt my love for jazz will ever match Gioia's, but as a result of reading this helpful book, I am at least motivated to open my ears and listen.

  • Axel
    2019-02-22 22:23

    How to Listen to Jazz is a worthy tribute to the jazz heroes of the twentieth century. I can't imagine a better introduction to jazz than this book. Gioia succeeds at finding structure in a genre which consists largely of improvisation and feeling, and gives a spot on analysis. For newcomers to jazz, he includes numerous examples of masterpieces to listen to. The more advanced listeners will enjoy the extensive analysis he gives on various jazz styles, after which you will develop even more appreciation for the jazz greats. Sadly, jazz is disappearing from popular culture. Many artists are discouraged of producing new albums, because they aren't very profitable. We will probably never encounter a new Louis Armstrong or Charlie Parker, innovators of the bandstand who had the whole world's attention. Gioia makes an interesting case: he states that this is not the result of a lack of artists, but an abundance of them. The result of an overflow of jazz performers (even if they aren't as high profile as they were before) is that the attention isn't fixed on just one great artist, because there are just too many of them. You just have to seek them out.

  • Scott
    2019-03-13 17:09

    (Spoiler: there is no wrong way!)

  • Marla
    2019-03-12 17:16

    I don't really agree with the majority of the reviews that say this was a great beginner book on jazz. I'm a beginner. Not having much of a musical background, I really got bogged down in the musical jargon and theory. I can read music and played years ago, but even that little bit did not help me with this book. The author would state that he could explain the complexities of jazz to the most inexperienced listener, in simple language. Then he would go into, what for me was a very complicated explanation of rhythms, riffs, notes and time signatures . Parts of it read like a wine connoisseur describing the nuances of a Cabernet. I found some of his statements hard to swallow. The one that stands out was his claim that some jazz musicians have gotten an undeserved reputation of being violent, abusers (my word), difficult to get along with...his theory being that no one that could perform such masterpieces could possibly do such things (Miles Davis for one). IMO, abusers and jerks can be creative just like anyone else. I took issue with his lack of representation of women in the book, namely Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald but it's his book and he must have had a difficult time deciding who to include and who not to (benefit of the doubt).However, the history and the evolution were fascinating to read. There is no doubt that Gioia is a very good writer and knowledgeable jazz historian. I loved his list of 150 present day jazz musicians to check out. My book club of seasoned jazz listeners concurred with his list and I have many highlighted to listen to. He gives listening suggestions along the way and I listened as I read. I highly suggest taking your time and doing the same (unless you are already familiar with these pieces, I wasn't). 3-1/2*, 4-1/2* if I hadn't had to wade through the technical jargon (first half of the book).

  • Steve Carroll
    2019-03-04 21:02

    really wonderful. I'm reading this as someone who has some experience listening to jazz but I feel this works for both beginners and more causal fans. he covers both what to listen for in the music as well as a concise history of the genre, a catalog of the most common styles and key artists. works best when read with a Spotify subscription and YouTube nearby for the full effect to take advantage of the many suggested listening selections.

  • Rian Merwe
    2019-02-20 19:17

    This was fantastic. Highly recommended. The first half is about the feel, structure, and meaning of jazz. The second half goes through the history of jazz, its biggest names, and some listening recommendations.

  • Scott
    2019-03-20 17:27

    How to Listen to Jazz, by Ted Gioia, is a pleasant, chatty book that isn't as pedagogic as the title might suggest. To be sure, Gioia does provide many clues and tips on how to listen to this most vibrant style of music, but many of them would apply to any style. He also doesn't give a simple list of names, and tell the reader to go listen to these records, though he does give many suggestions, and some lists. It also doesn't quite fulfill its promise to explain how music critics reach the conclusions that they do. More precisely, Gioia's book is one critic's approach to the music. He does nicely suggest how to tell the difference between great music and mediocre music, and ways to teach yourself to do that. (Hint, go listen to some bad music, then listen to some music generally regarded as great.)Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable read that should spur any casual listener of jazz to seek out more. For example, I am now more motivated to listen to the music of Louis Armstrong and his predecessors than I was before. I always acknowledged his influence, but after reading How To Listen To Jazz, I understand a little better why Armstrong was so influential. There is also an enticing list of prominent current jazz artists in an appendix that are well worth seeking out.

  • Dave Ciskowski
    2019-02-22 18:26

    An entertaining, concise framework for anyone who wants to listen to jazz with some structure and history. Gioia sets an interesting task for himself, aiming a book at readers who already enjoy jazz but who might not know much about it. The book works quite well for that audience, and is even a good fit for those who are just getting into jazz, or as a syllabus for those who already know a lot but want to fill in the gaps or find a different way to appreciate the music. The earlier chapters, focused on the musical elements of jazz, provide a good overview of the structural elements but tend to be a bit vague, as they don't assume a great deal of musical knowledge. However, the chapters that deal with jazz's historical development and legendary artists are quite good. Gioia both draws the lines that connect the movements and artists, as well as articulating what makes them unique and independent. And throughout, his personal, conversational tone make the book an enjoyable read. If you're interested in jazz and want to learn more, this book will give you a great platform to help you explore.

  • Stephen Futterer
    2019-02-22 20:12

    I very much enjoyed this book. The informal style was refreshing. He comes at it as a very well-informed FAN! Not intended as a comprehensive review, he touches on the major jazz periods/styles and artists with an ear toward what influenced them and also what set them apart. This rejuvenated my relationship to jazz and gave me pointers (as well as specific song suggestions) on how to be a better music listener. To hear not just the notes but the person playing them. What are they trying to say? How does it make you feel? You can get lost in theory and notation. It's good to be reminded that it's the soul of the music that matters.Published (ironically) in 2016, there's one notable flaw that might be corrected in future additions. He is expounding on (and negating), the oft-stated "end of jazz" when he rolls out this statement: "And if you believe these write-ups, you might conclude that jazz is to music what the Chicago Cubs are to baseball: a loser's bet and almost a symbol of futility"..... alas.

  • Mark Lisac
    2019-03-08 23:20

    A nicely done, plainspoken introduction to a very large subject. Probably of particular use for readers who haven't heard much of the music. Much of it may be redundant for anyone who has listened to a lot of jazz or has seen Ken Burns's television series Jazz, which has the advantage of a soundtrack. However, I learned a few things about familiar musicians and songs, and was introduced to more modern streams of jazz that I'm not familiar with. The lack of sound can partially be made up by using Gioia's suggested started points in searches of YouTube and the iTunes sampler function. A nice touch and very handy guide to further exploration of current jazz is his list of 150 "early and mid-career jazz masters" (even if, for some reason, the list does not include Patricia Barber). The discussions of early greats, up to about 1970, centre on most of the expected names and are done at a fairly introductory, yet still informative, level.

  • Jim Thomas
    2019-03-14 17:58

    The Best book on how to understand and appreciate jazz for the layman since Martin Williams's Where's the Melody. Made me want to go back and listen again with new approaches to some of my pretty big collection. I now have 0ver 23,000 "songs" in my library of which I'm sure contain at least 75% jazz. Happy listening! Do yourself a favor. I still love, like most jazz fans, Miles Davis's Kind of Blue but I've never particularly liked Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Give me Blue Train, Giant Steps or even his early experiments with the avant-garde found on the multi disc Complete Live at The Village Vanguard sessions where Coltrane works with the great Eric Dolphy. The author does explain "swing" better than any other writer and how difficult it is to achieve it especially at certain tempos. I always used to say to look up the word swing in music and there would be a three word definition: Count Basie Band.

  • Pascal Graßhoff
    2019-02-22 22:23

    "How to Listen to Jazz" is a great help in getting a grasp of a genre most people aren't as familiar with as they should probably be. I've always been interested in the diverseness and spontaneity of jazz, but I just didn't know where to start when it came to discovering artists. Jazz is a genre that spans an entire century by this point, encompassing dozens of sub-genres and a tremendous amount of virtuous musicians. Ted Giola's book not only helped me to find a few good entry points, but also made me understand the musical intricacies as well as the history of the genre a lot more.The book is fun and easy to read (if you are a bit of a music nerd anyway) and Giola seems genuinely enthusiastic about getting a few new people in on the arguably widely underappreciated genre that is jazz.

  • Vicki
    2019-03-14 23:06

    I have to disagree with a lot of the reviews here. I thought it was a fairly interesting book, but I think it's hard for experts to explain things to beginners in beginners' terms. I'm fairly musically literate (played both piano and clarinet), and I still had a hard time understanding a lot of what he was talking about, simply because I think he's used to talking in very technical terms. In general, I found the tone to be very enthusiastic and educational, but the book, like jazz itself, didn't have enough structure to really engage me. I did like the lists of what to listen to.

  • Ed
    2019-03-14 18:04

    A brilliant well written introduction to actually paying attention to what is going on in jazz. It got me working back through my jazz records and really paying attention. Indeed I am listening to the first track on Miles Davies Kinda a Blue once a day to really get it. His detailed analysis of key recordings is really gripping and interesting. And it is a great introduction to jazz if you don't know much about it as I didn't despite listening to it for decades.

  • Leslie Ann
    2019-03-09 00:04

    A superlative guide for cultivating an informed taste in jazz. Among the excellent suggestions are following the bass line, singing along with the melody, and comparing professionals and amateurs (e.g. school bands) playing a particular piece. I look forward to employing these strategies while listening to online and live performances.

  • Bernardo
    2019-02-22 20:18

    Excellent introduction to the world of jazz, easy to read, succinct but loaded with information and recommendations. Several objective factors are presented to give the reader the tools to make his own review and impression of jazz artists, albums and songs. Highly recommend it if you are interested in jazz and want to understand it to enjoy it even more.

  • Douglas
    2019-03-16 21:07

    High three stars. He has not converted me to a full blown fan (not yet, at least), but Gioia's enthusiasm shines through in his writing and he provides enough reasonable suggestions to steer any novice jazz listener in the right direction. Recommended to anyone with curiosity about jazz music, but who lacks knowledge of where to begin.

  • Beverly
    2019-02-20 20:20

    Unlike many books of this genre (how-to-do-X), Gioia's overview of jazz has a strong narrative voice that keeps the reader engaged. I do suggest readers get their own hard copies so they can mark it up. I read it straight through, but more profitably, it should be read with access to the internet available to follow up on his many examples.

  • David Ball
    2019-02-24 16:13

    I wouldn't normally give a "how to" guide four stars but this hit the right notes on so many levels that it deserves special praise. Firstly, Gioia has pitched it perfectly for this amateur jazz listener. Stylistically, it's written simply, almost conversationally, with very little technical jargon to overwhelm the uninitiated. He also usefully explains what to listen for in good jazz: phrasing, pitch and timbre, dynamics, personality, spontaneity, before delving into the structure of a jazz song, and how what sounds like random notes flung together is actually, in most cases, far more thoughtfully organized and principled than it first seems. There is a method to the madness! and Gioia walks you through a number of jazz standards to illustrate the point. He also does a great job of explaining the evolution of jazz, as it flits across the US from New Orleans to Chicago to Harlem and across the various scenes from Bebop to Cool to Fusion, each movement building on what's gone beforehand. Again specific tracks are highlighted to represent each style. Next he touches on the lives and sounds of many of the jazz greats and what makes each artist noteworthy. As I've invested considerable time and money on Monk, Coltrane, Parker, and Davis, struggling vainly to grasp their genius, I found this section to be particularly insightful. Finally Gioia makes the case for modern jazz as it continues to evolve and mutate as it comes into contact with new forms of music; how proficient the young jazz artists have become; and how jazz needs to be heard live to be properly appreciated. It is an unexpectedly optimistic ending that distinguishes Gioia as a critic with one foot firmly in the past and the other firmly in the future.

  • peter
    2019-03-12 18:12

    Any book written by a jazz critic will come off as at least a bit smug, but Gioia is one of my favorites. He discusses the main figures from the jazz canon but is conscious of not over-museumizing them.I love jazz music but don't really understand a lot of what's going on. He helped me listen better and pay more attention to why I love it. All this without musical notation or anything like that

  • Bill
    2019-03-18 17:19

    An excellent brief guided-tour through the history of jazz and what to listen for. By a jazz pianist, educator and critic. I love that most of the recommended tracks are easy to find online (and for free).

  • Roddy
    2019-03-15 22:17

    Loses one star mainly for not explaining how the recordings for “recommended listening” were selected. I would like to see an appendix with a paragraph on each recording explaining its inclusion in the list. After all, this is the main message of the book - listen discerningly and intelligently!

  • Popebrak
    2019-03-17 00:01

    I'm a recovering death-metal DJ. . . this was very helpful.

  • Vincenzo Tagle
    2019-03-16 16:13

    Great introduction to jazz music and what to pay attention to when listening. Chock full of excellent obscure recommendations to deepen one's jazz education.