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June 27 2020
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It’s known for its blue notes, its spontaneity, and its stars, from Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. Moreover, “if jazz means anything,” wrote Ellington, “it is freedom of expression.” A new book from the writer, broadcaster, and bassist Alyn Shipton collects more than 300 images—“Visualizations of the musicians, their milieu, and their music as metaphor,” writes John Edward Hasse in the foreword—in a vibrant visual history. By the time the word “jazz” made it into The Oxford English Dictionary—and as a supplement, no less, the original 1928 edition having appeared without it—the Jazz Age was in full swing. It left the dictionary in the dust, “creating unforgettable and vivid sonic paintings,” writes Hasse, and encouraging in its musicians “that leeway to experiment, to find and put forward one’s personal voice and style” that made their music so enduring. —Julia Vitale

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