1st Edition

Is Jazz Dead? Or Has It Moved to a New Address

By Stuart Nicholson Copyright 2005

    Is Jazz Dead? examines the state of jazz in America at the turn of the twenty-first century. Musicians themselves are returning to New Orleans, Swing, and Bebop styles, while the work of the '60s avant-garde and even '70s and '80s jazz-rock is roundly ignored. Meanwhile, global jazz musicians are creating new and exciting music that is just starting to be heard in the United States, offering a viable alternative to the rampant conservatism here. Stuart Nicholson's thought-provoking book offers an analysis of the American scene, how it came to be so stagnant, and what it can do to create a new level of creativity. This book is bound to be controversial among jazz purists and musicians; it will undoubtedly generate discussion about how jazz should grow now that it has become a recognized part of American musical history. Is Jazz Dead? dares to ask the question on all jazz fan's minds: Can jazz survive as a living medium? And, if so, how?

    Introduction 1 Where Do We Go From Here? The Jazz Mainstream 1990-2000 2 Between Image and Artistry: The Wynton Marsalis Phenomenon 3 Prophets Looking Backwards: Jazz at Lincoln Center 4 Déjà Vu All Over Again: Jazz Singers and Nu-Crooners 5 Jazz Education: Teachers Teaching Teachers 6 Altered Realities and Fresh Possibilities 7 Out of Sight and Out of Mind: Jazz In The Global Village 8 Celebrating the Glocal: The Nordic Tone in Jazz 9 Marketplace or Subsidy: A Question of Survival


    Stuart Nicholson is an award-winning author of several best-selling books on jazz, including Reminiscing in Tempo: A Portrait of Duke Ellington , Jazz-Rock: A History , Billie Holiday: A Biography , and Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography . He writes regularly for leading US and European newspapers and jazz journals. He lives in England.

    "A definitive account of the state of the art." - The Observer Music Monthly (UK).

    "Nicholson demonstrates a solid knowledge and deep understanding of different countries' jazz traditions. Globalization theories are pedagogically explained in a way that is easily understood by the reader. It is easy to be convinced by Nicholson’s thorough discussions, since his analyses are balanced and well written. There is no doubt that this is one of the most important books about jazz, a much needed commentary presented with insight in a convincing way. Everyone with an opinion on jazz of today should read this book." -  Jazznytt (Norway)

    "Nicholson’s thesis is important, and he supports it persuasively." - Jazz Times (USA)

    "A seminal work that should be read and heeded by all people involved in jazz." - Chris HodgkinsJazzwise (UK)

    "Easily the most perceptive and stimulating critique of jazz for a very long time indeed." - Fly.com (UK)

    ‘Stuart Nicholson's Is Jazz Dead? Or Has It Moved to a New Address is a smart analysis of contemporary jazz.’ - Guidelive.com (USA)

    "A very good and well written book with lots of research and ideas to absorb, Nicholson continues to demonstrate he is one of the most scholarly jazz and jazz rock writers around, covering the state of jazz at the end of the 20th Century and moves into the new millennium. He is still a most readable writer too… This is an important book on music, with a heap of emphasis on jazz but applicable beyond the boundaries of jazz to other musical genres." - Progressive Rock Forum

    "In this provocative book, British jazz critic Stuart Nicholson asks whether jazz is dead (or at least in a state of decay) in the US, then arguing innovation is more likely to be found in other countries, especially Europe. Nicholson is at his most persuasive when listing the factors that have stifled innovation in American jazz over the last couple of decades." - The Age (Australia)

    "Provocative, stimulating and readable." - The Courier Mail (Australia)

    "A thorough analysis of the forces that have – or have not – been in motion since the death of Miles Davis in 1991 in American jazz…Nicholson is far reaching – and when he compares the films of Bergman to the Nordic Tone he has a good point." - Dagens Nyheter

    "A serious and passionate discussion about jazz’s future…An art form which ought to constantly to investigate the new needs voices like Nicholson’s to remind us of its purpose." - The Independent (UK)

    "The most recent emancipation of European Jazz from its American role model began after the turn of the millennium. Stuart Nicholson’s report for the New York Times and his subsequent book Is Jazz Dead (Or Has It Moved To A New Address) caused outcries with his allegation that European jazz is more advanced in Europe than in the USA…which for American ears sounds like ‘The Russians are coming."-  Der Spiegel (Germany)

    "Nicholson’s arguments both refreshing and inspiring… At a point in time where there are so many contrary opinions and viewpoints surrounding the state of jazz, where it’s headed and what it even means anymore, Nicholson’s book is a spirited and insightful read that seems determined to understand the music as a concept rather than simply as a tradition packaged neatly in a single word." - www.shepherd-express.com (USA)

    "An independent and important reassessment of contemporary jazz." -  Jazz UK

    "For jazz aficionados and lay people alike, a good history and analysis of the genre is Stuart Nicholson’s Is Jazz Dead Or Has It Moved to a New Address." -  Walrus Magazine (USA)

    "A new book by the British jazz critic Stuart Nicholson, Is Jazz Dead? (Or Has it Moved to a New Address), makes a timely examination of [global] developments. Nicholson uses "glocalisation", an ugly but useful word to describe the interaction of global and local musical practices." - The Australian

    "There is no other book that treats all the elements that Nicholson has drawn together so thoroughly and well. It is quite essential." -  Sydney Improvised Music Association

    "A series of excellent critical essays." - Jazz Rag (UK)

    "The undoubted merit of Nicholson's book lies in its evaluation of European jazz. It is a testimony of the fact that Europe has left the period of imitation far behind and that the musicians on the continent have reached a maturity, which allows them not only to play jazz, but also to create it." -  Jazz Forum (Poland)

    "Stuart Nicholson may be the most perceptive critic writing about jazz today. While others are caught up in paradigms from the music's past, he is charting an inspiring roadmap for its future." - Ted Gioia, musician and author of The History of Jazz, West Coast Jazz and Imperfect Art (USA)

    "The issues Nicholson addresses are vital issues that should concern any of us who are interested and care about the survival and future direction of this music. It’s useful and enlightening to read how the global jazz fraternity is dealing with the ever changing realities confronting the music’s survival. Bravo and thanks for writing it!" -  Mike Nock, pianist, educator, Sydney Conservatorium and member of the Music Council of Australia

    "Recommended." - AmericanMusicRevolution.com (USA)

    "Your book will stand the test of time, as all your writing does. It is very sobering, but I feel great because I understand EVERYTHING you say!" Bob Belden, saxophonist, arranger, composer, Blue Note recording artist, Grammy winner and record producer (USA).

    "An important contribution to jazz literature." - Jack Reilly, pianist, composer, and former Chairman of Jazz Studies at the New England Conservatory, Boston (USA).

    "That US jazz no longer leads the world seems irrefutable. Stuart Nicholson provides an admirably clear-sighted and culturally-sophisticated examination of recent developments in the US and Europe, while also pointing to a wealth of excellent music for the reader to go in search of. If jazz really is dead, the corpse is looking pretty good." - Phil Johnson, Independent On Sunday

    "Is Jazz Dead? is certain to stir controversy. No one is going to agree with everything Stuart Nicholson has to say -- about "glocalization" and the rise of European jazz, Wyntonism, and the bleak future for jazz in the U.S. without governmental funding -- but I can't imagine anyone reading him and not feeling provoked. He does what a good critic is supposed to do, which is to give a reader something to argue with." - Francis Davis, author of Jazz and Its Discontents: A Francis Davis Reader

    "Is Jazz Dead? is terrifying, enlightening and thought provoking in equal measures. You might not agree with Nicholson's analysis but if you're in the business of jazz or just plain love the music you cannot afford to ignore this book." - Kerstan Mackness, Time Out London

    "Deeply researched, provocative, well written, with a touch of the British sense of humour, this book will open an infinite debate about jazz in the new century. A must for every jazz lover." - Vincenzo Martorella, Jazzit (Italy)

    "Stuart Nicholson has written a powerful counterblast against those who want to place jazz in a mausoleum. Anyone who cares about the future of jazz as a vital and innovative art form should read this book." - Sholto Byrnes, The Independent