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Music: Course Guides: Jazz: History and Appreciation


Introduction to Jazz


Cooke, Mervyn. 2013. The Chronicle of Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press.

Call number: Music 781.6509 C77 c5

“The book charts the evolution of jazz from its roots in Africa and the southern United States to the myriad urban styles heard around the world today. It is completely up to date, exploring the exciting recent developments in the world of jazz, from the rise of modern Big Bands and the renaissance of the piano trio to the popular appeal of Jamie Cullum and HBO's Treme.”


DeVeaux, Scott Knowles, and Gary Giddins. 2009. Jazz. New York: W. W. Norton.

Call number: Music 781.65 D48 j4

“Emphasizing its African American roots, Jazz traces the history of the music over the last hundred years. From ragtime and blues to the international craze for swing, from the heated protests of the avant-garde to the radical diversity of today’s artists, Jazz describes the travails and triumphs of musical innovators struggling for work, respect, and cultural acceptance set against the backdrop of American history, commerce, and politics. With vibrant photographs by legendary jazz chronicler Herman Leonard, Jazz is also an arresting visual history of a century of music.”



Gridley, Mark C. 2012. Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. Boston: Pearson.     

Call number: Music 781.6509 G84 j4

“The book gives readers a peek into how jazz musicians put together performances and how their methods have differed from style to style.



Stephans, Michael. 2013. Experiencing Jazz: a Listener's Companion. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Call number:  Music 781.65 S827 e96

“The book demonstrates how the act of listening to jazz takes place on a deeply personal level and takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the genre, instrument by instrument.”



Whitehead, Kevin. 2011. Why Jazz?: a Concise Guide. New York: Oxford University Press.

Call number: Music 781.65 W59 w6

“The book is organized chronologically in a convenient question and answer format; it concisely traces the century-old history of this American and global art form, from its beginnings in New Orleans up through the current postmodern period. Whitehead provides brief profiles of the archetypal figures of jazz---from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Wynton Marsalis and John Zorn---and illuminates their contributions as musicians, performers, and composers. Also highlighted are the building blocks of the jazz sound---call and response, rhythmic contrasts, personalized performance techniques and improvisation---and discussion of how visionary musicians have    visionary musicians have reinterpreted these elements to continually redefine jazz, ushering in the swing era, bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, and the avant-garde.”


How to appreciate Jazz



Brown, David. 2006. Noise Orders: Jazz, Improvisation, and Architecture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Call number: Music 781.65117 B87

“In this lively book, David Brown locates jazz music within the broad aesthetic, political, and theoretical upheavals of our time, asserting that modern architecture and urbanism in particular can be strongly influenced and defined by the ways that improvisation is facilitated in jazz.”



Kernfeld, Barry Dean. 1995. What to Listen for in Jazz. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Call number: Music 781.6517 K39 w5

“Barry Kernfeld provides an introduction to jazz, discussing its musical concepts, procedures and styles, providing the background to this musical art.”



Marsalis, Wynton. 2008. Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life. New York: Random House.

Call number: Music 781.65117 M363 m93

“With wit and candor he demystifies the music that is the birthright of every American and demonstrates how a real understanding of the central idea of jazz–the unique balance between self-expression and sacrifice for the common good exemplified on the bandstand–can enrich every aspect of our lives, from the bedroom to the boardroom, from the schoolroom to City Hall. Along the way, Marsalis helps us understand the life-changing message of the blues, reveals secrets about playing–and listening–and passes on wisdom he has gleaned from working with three generations of great musicians.” 


Piazza, Tom. 2005. Understanding Jazz: Ways to Listen. New York: Random House.

Call number: Music 781.65117 P58

“Jazz is America’s greatest indigenous art form, a musical hybrid whose origins are as mysterious, complex, and surprising as its evolution has proved to be. Written by Grammy award-winning author Tom Piazza and produced by the experts at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Understanding Jazz uses simple explanations and analogies to illuminate the basics of listening to a jazz performance: how to discern form, instrumentation, style, and intent.”




Tirro, Frank. 1996. Living with Jazz, an Appreciation. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.   

Call number: Music 781.65 T59

“The book is addressed to college students who need a guide to their introductory voyage in jazz. It will reveal some of jazz’s inner workings and point out a few details of its extraordinary beauty, but the most eloquent spokesman for the music is the music itself.” 


Jazz musicians



Berrett, Joshua. 2004. Louis Armstrong & Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Call number: Music 781.650922 B53 l8

“In Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman the jazz scholar Joshua Berrett offers a provocative revision of the history of early jazz by focusing on two of its most notable practitioners - Whiteman, legendary in his day, and Armstrong, a legend ever since.This dual biography explores these diverging legacies in the context of race, commerce, and the history of early jazz. Early jazz, Berrett argues, was not a story of black innovators and white usurpers. In this book, a much richer, more complicated story emerges - a story of cross- influences, sidemen, sundry movers and shakers who were all part of a collective experience that transcended the category of race. It the world of early jazz, Berrett contends, kingdoms had no borders.”



Bradbury, David. 2005. Duke Ellington. London: Haus.

Call number: Music 781.65092 E46 B

 “The composer and bandleader Duke Ellington (1899-1947) was a largely self-taught pianist who was influenced by jazz and ragtime performers. While working as a sign painter he began to play professionally and in 1918 started his own band in his native Washington, D.C. In 1923 he moved to New York City and playing piano at the Kentucky Club, began gathering the musicians who formed the core of his famous orchestra and made his first recordings. With no formal training in composition, he nonetheless employed daring and innovative musical devices in his works; blending lush melodies with unorthodox and often dissonant harmonies and rhythmic structures based on what was then called 'jungle' effects, he wrote and arranged songs tailored to his own band and soloists. Radio broadcasts during an engagement at New York City's fashionable Cotton Club from 1927 to 1932 brought him and his group national recognition and his recordings - particularly Saddest Tale, Echoes of Harlem, Black and Tan Fantasy, and Mood Indigo - spread their fame to Europe."



Brown, Leonard L. 2010. John Coltrane and Black America's Quest for Freedom: Spirituality and the Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Call number: Music 788.7165092 C725 j 

“The book examines the full spectrum of Coltrane's legacy. A wide-ranging collection of essays and interviews approaches this theme from a different angle, in both historical and contemporary contexts, focusing on how Coltrane became a quintessential example of the universal and enduring qualities of Black American culture.”



Dicaire, David. 2006. Jazz Musicians, 1945 to the Present. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.

Call number: Music 781.655092273 D54

“The five major periods of jazz--the bop revolution, hard bop and cool jazz, the avant-garde, fusion, and contemporary--form the basis for the sections in this reference work, with a brief history of each period provided. The artists who were integral to the evolution of each period are then profiled.”



Early, Gerald Lyn. 2001. Miles Davis and American Culture. St. Louis, MO: Missouri Historical Society Press.

Call number: Music 788.92165092 M64 E12

“Brash and brilliant, an icon of cool, Miles Davis (1926-1991) was one of the twentieth century's greatest artists. The East St. Louis trumpeter and bandleader had an enormous impact in jazz with such diverse and classic recordings as The Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, and Bitches Brew. He inspired artists, writers, and other musicians with his musical daring and mysterious persona. His music provoked discussion of art versus commerce, the relationship of artist to audience, and the definition of jazz itself. Whether the topic is race, fashion, or gender relations, the cultural debate about Davis's life remains a confluence.”   



Fitterling, Thomas. 1997. Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music. Berkeley, Calif.: Berkeley Hills Books.

Call number: Music 786.2165092 M74 F5

“Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker were pioneers in an original form of music called bebop that reclaimed jazz as a primarily African American form of cultural expression in the 1940s. Monk in particular, with his shades, goatee, and ever-changing array of unusual headgear, came to epitomize bopper cool. Even in his novel music, Monk's originality stood out. Unfortunately, emotional problems, run-ins with the law, and a reputation for unreliability derailed his career just as he was reaching his creative height, and he spent the last years of his life watching television. Fitterling, a jazz performer, producer, and journalist, has done a fine job in recounting the development of Monk's style, his contributions as a composer, and the influence of his music.”



Martin, Henry. 1996. Charlie Parker and Thematic Improvisation. [Newark, N.J.]: Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers--The State University   of New Jersey.

Call number: Music 788.73165092 P23 M3

“Martin provides a new overall assessment of the importance of Charlie Parker through an analysis of his improvisations in a variety of genres. Earlier studies of Parker argue that his style is based on an extensive network of melodic formulas that are combined to create solos. Because the same formulas appear throughout his improvisations regardless of the theme, these studies concluded that the solos do not usually relate to the original melodies. Charlie Parker and Thematic Improvisation provides a much-needed reassessment by showing that Parker's solos are often related to the original themes in unexpected and sometimes ingenious ways. The conclusion sums up features of Parker's style and discusses his contribution in the context of Western music history.  Numerous transcriptions are provided."



Whyton, Tony. 2013. Beyond A Love Supreme: John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album. New York: Oxford University Press.

Call number: Music 788.7165092 W629 b57

“The author explores both the musical complexities of A Love Supreme and the album's seminal importance in jazz history. Marking Coltrane's transition from the bebop and hard bop of his earlier recordings to the free jazz style perfected throughout the rest of his career.”


In-depth studies of Jazz









Ake, David Andrew. 2002. Jazz Cultures. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Call number: Music 781.65 A313 j4

“The author looks at evolving meanings, values, and ideals--as well as the sounds--that musicians, audiences, and critics carry to and from the various activities they call jazz. Focusing on pianists Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, Ake investigates the ways in which musicians' postures and attitudes influence perceptions of them as profound and serious artists. In another essay, Ake examines the musical values and ideals promulgated by college jazz education programs through a consideration of saxophonist John Coltrane. He also discusses the concept of the jazz "standard" in the 1990s and the differing sense of tradition implied in recent recordings by Wynton Marsalis and Bill Frisell. 

The book shows how jazz history has not consisted simply of a smoothly evolving series of musical styles, but rather an array of individuals and communities engaging with disparate--and oftentimes conflicting--actions, ideals, and attitudes.”



Ake, David, Charles Hiroshi Garrett, Daniel Goldmark, ed. 2012. Jazz/Not Jazz: the Music and Its Boundaries. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Call number: Music 781.65 J429 A31

“The book explores some of the musicians, concepts, places, and practices which, while deeply connected to established jazz institutions and aesthetics, have rarely appeared in traditional histories of the form. David Ake, Charles Hiroshi Garrett, and Daniel Goldmark have assembled a stellar group of writers to look beyond the canon of acknowledged jazz greats and address some of the big questions facing jazz today. More than just a history of jazz and its performers, this collections seeks out those people and pieces missing from the established narratives to explore what they can tell us about the way jazz has been defined and its history has been told.”




Shipton, Alyn. 2007. A New History of Jazz. New York: Continuum.

Call number: Music 781.6509 S55 n5

“In this major update of the acclaimed and award-winning jazz history, Alyn Shipton challenges many of the assumptions that surround the birth and growth of jazz music. How was it that it took off all over the United States early in the 20th century, despite the accepted wisdom that everything began in New Orleans? Shipton also re-evaluates the transition from swing to be-bop, asking just how political this supposed modern jazz revolution actually was.  He makes the case for jazz as a truly international music from its earliest days, charting significant developments outside the USA from the 1920s onwards.

All the great names in jazz history are here, from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis and from Sidney Bechet to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. But unlike those historians who call a halt with the death of Coltrane in 1967, Shipton continues the story with the major trends in jazz over the last 40 years: free jazz, jazz rock, world music influences, and the re-emergence of the popular jazz singer.” 



Vernick, Gordon and Geoffrey, Haydon. 2002. Jazz History Overview. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

Call number: Music 781.6509 V53 j4 CD and listening guide

“Vernick and Haydon carefully avoid the idiomatic definition of jazz and instead guide the reader through an aesthetic appreciation of the African and European elements contributing to this fusion of music traditions. The authors integrate chapters on chronological development ("The Swing Era," "BeBop," "Cool Style" and so forth) with provocative discussions about individuals who provided substantial contributions to the art form (Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and others). In addition, references to significant artists in each performance genre are liberally distributed throughout the text.  The addition of a three-disc CD collection provides an aural reference to accompany this informative text.”


General Reference

Gioia, Ted. 2012. The jazz standards: a guide to the repertoire. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Call number: MuR 016.78165 G495 j42


Kernfeld, Barry Dean. 2002. The new Grove dictionary of jazz. New York: Grove.

Call number: MuR 781.6503 N532 k v.1-3

Electronic version is available through Grove Music Online that comprises New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians (2001), New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992) and New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2002), which provide scholarly articles and biographies. These are considered the most authoritative reference materials for its full-text scholarly writings and bibliographies.


Encyclopedia of Popular Music features topics of jazz, rap and techno. Entries of biographies and groups include record labels, release dates and a 5-star album rating system for reference.

Call number: MuR 781.6403 E56

10 volumes 

Location: Reference Collection

Listening Online

Jazz music library features albums of jazz artists and ensembles.


Naxos Music Library has classical music, historical recordings, jazz, world, folk and Chinese music.


Jazz CDs Donation at the Music Collection

We are honoured to receive CDs donated by Professor Geoffrey Hathaway Blowers, Department of Psychology, HKU. The donation has over 600 jazz CDs, featuring the best jazz albums, e.g. Bill Evans' You must believe in spring, John Coltrane's A love supreme and Stan Getz's Focus

Online resources & Magazine

Online resources

Annual Review of Jazz Studies

           ~ Print v.1-4; v.9-11 

           ~ Online Music periodicals database 1996 - 2009

Journal of jazz studies, formerly the print journal Annual Review of Jazz Studies, is an open-access online journal, which is peer-reviewed and published by the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Addressed to specialists and fans alike, JJS provides a forum for the ever-expanding range and depth of jazz scholarship, from technical analyses to oral history to bibliography to cultural interpretation.

Music Periodicals Database covers topics of jazz and blues and includes full-text articles and reviews.  




The Wire “celebrates and interrogates the most visionary and inspiring, subversive and radical, marginalised and undervalued musicians on the planet, past and present, in the realms of avant rock, electronica, hiphop, new jazz, modern composition, traditional musics and beyond.”


          ~ Print no.97 (1992); no.99 (1993); no.106 (1993)-no.112 (1993); no.117 (1993)-no.120 (1993); no.130 (1994)-no.142 (1995); no.167 (1998)-

          ~ Accompanying audio CD

Online resources


 Top 100 Jazz Website

      -  based on statistical surveys to rank top Jazz albums

 All About Jazz  

      -  news, reviews, forums, articles, MP3 downloads and musicians’ birthdays

 Smithsonian Jazz 

      -  resources for Jazz education, appreciation and research; information about exhibitions, events and performances in the United States

 Institute of Jazz studies

      -  an archive of jazz and jazz-related materials providing a wide coverage jazz in the world

 The Chicago Jazz Archive

      -  current and historical sources for Jazz in Chicago


Blues Music

 A History of Blues Music

      -  a chapter of A History of Popular Music by Piero Scaruffi

 Blues Music History

      -  concise information on the history, musicians, photos with illustrations  



 History of Black Gospel

      -  significant gospel musicians with historical photos in B&W and color



Jazz at NYC

Jazz at Lincoln Center

      -  all Jazz events in Lincoln Center and NY region


Jazz images

William P. Gottlieb: Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz

      -  over 1600 photographs of celebrated jazz artists, jazz scene in New York City and Washington, D.C. from 1938 to 1948.

 Louis Armstrong House Museum

      -  his personal treasures including photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence and papers, as well as trumpets. Its online catalog shows its holdings and photographs from the collections.  

Citation & Writing Guide

When you cite resources properly, readers can follow your thoughts and your meticulous research work is shown as well. There are some citation styles and you may wish to seek your professor’s preference before getting started. Once you have chosen a style, it is important to be consistent.


The MLA style manual.

Call number: 808.027 A17

 Location: Main Library

An online version is here for quick reference. 


How to Cite Film, Video and Online Media (from UC Berkeley)


Writing Guide


Irvine’s writing about music. 3rd ed.

Call number: MuR 780.72 I72 W9  

Location: Music Reference

Online version




Managing Citations

EndNote is a bibliographical management software product to organize and collect your bibliographic sources.

The Libraries support it that allows you to retrieve citations easily.