Books on Jazz: 2024 Update of the Best Titles

Are you a jazz enthusiast looking for the perfect book on jazz to add to your collection? Look no further! We’ve curated a list of the 20 best jazz books that every music lover should read. From in-depth biographies of jazz legends to insightful analyses of the genre’s evolution, these books offer a comprehensive look at the rich history and cultural impact of jazz. Whether you’re a seasoned jazz aficionado or a newcomer to the genre, these books are sure to deepen your appreciation for the art form.

20 Best Books About Jazz

The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire

by Ted Gioia

The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire by Ted Gioia is a comprehensive book about jazz music that delves into the history and significance of 250 key jazz standards. Gioia provides an in-depth exploration of each song, offering insights into their origins, evolution, and the notable artists who have performed them. This book on jazz is an essential resource for musicians, music lovers, and anyone interested in understanding the foundational repertoire of jazz music. Gioia’s expertise and passion for the genre shine through in his engaging and informative writing, making this a must-read for anyone looking to deepen their appreciation and knowledge of jazz music. Whether you’re a seasoned jazz enthusiast or a newcomer to the genre, The Jazz Standards is sure to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of this rich musical tradition.

Jazz: A History of America’s Music

by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns

Jazz: A History of America’s Music is a captivating exploration of the evolution and impact of this quintessentially American art form. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, this book on jazz takes readers on a mesmerizing journey through the vibrant history of jazz, from its roots in African rhythms to its modern-day influences. With vivid storytelling and stunning visuals, the book about jazz delves into the lives of legendary musicians, the social and cultural movements that shaped the genre, and the enduring legacy of jazz on the world stage. Whether you’re a die-hard jazz enthusiast or a newcomer to the genre, this jazz book is a must-read for anyone looking to deepen their understanding and appreciation of this rich and dynamic musical tradition.

Miles: The Autobiography

by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe

Miles: The Autobiography is an electrifying memoir that takes readers on a wild ride through the life of legendary musician Miles Davis. Co-written with Quincy Troupe, this book on jazz is a raw and unapologetic account of Davis’s tumultuous journey from the streets of East St. Louis to the pinnacle of the music world. With searing honesty, Davis recounts his struggles with addiction, his relationships with fellow musicians, and the creative process behind his groundbreaking music. This jazz book is a must-read for anyone interested in the life of a true musical genius, as it provides a candid and unfiltered look into the mind of a man who revolutionized the world of music.

The History of Jazz

by Ted Gioia

The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia is an in-depth exploration of the evolution and influence of this quintessentially American musical genre. In this captivating book on jazz, Gioia takes readers on a journey from the origins of jazz in the African-American communities of New Orleans to its global impact today. He delves into the lives and music of jazz legends, tracing the development of different styles and the social and cultural forces that shaped them. With vivid storytelling and insightful analysis, Gioia captures the spirit and significance of this vibrant art form. Whether you’re a seasoned jazz enthusiast or a newcomer eager to learn about this rich musical tradition, this book about jazz is a must-read. Gioia’s passion for and knowledge of jazz shines through, making it a compelling and informative read for anyone interested in the history of music.

Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life

by Laurence Bergreen

Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life by Laurence Bergreen is a captivating biography that delves into the extraordinary life of the legendary musician, Louis Armstrong. This engrossing book about jazz takes readers on a journey through Armstrong’s humble beginnings in New Orleans to his rise as a groundbreaking figure in the world of music. Bergreen’s vivid storytelling paints a vivid picture of Armstrong’s extravagant life, from his pioneering contributions to the development of jazz to his enduring influence on the genre.

Through meticulous research and engaging prose, Bergreen brings to life the vibrant world of early 20th-century America and the rich cultural tapestry of the jazz age. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for his subject, Bergreen captures the essence of Armstrong’s spirit and his enduring legacy. Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life is a must-read for anyone with an interest in music, history, or the incredible story of a true American icon.

The Jazz Palace

by Mary Morris

The Jazz Palace by Mary Morris is a captivating historical novel that delves into the vibrant world of Chicago’s jazz scene in the 1920s. Set against the backdrop of Prohibition and the Great Migration, this book immerses readers in the lives of a diverse cast of characters whose destinies become intertwined through their shared love for music. As they navigate the tumultuous era of racial tension and social upheaval, the novel paints a vivid portrait of the city’s jazz clubs, speakeasies, and the colorful characters who inhabit them. The Jazz Palace is a compelling tale of ambition, love, and resilience, offering a mesmerizing glimpse into the power of music to transcend barriers and bring people together. Whether you’re a jazz aficionado or simply love a captivating historical drama, this book about jazz is sure to strike a chord with readers of all stripes.

Jazz: A Photo History

by Joachim E. Berendt

Jazz: A Photo History by Joachim E. Berendt is a captivating exploration of the world of jazz through a stunning collection of photographs. This visually striking book on jazz takes readers on a journey through the history and evolution of this iconic musical genre, offering a unique perspective on its cultural impact and the diverse range of artists who have contributed to its rich legacy. From intimate shots of legendary jazz musicians to vibrant images of iconic jazz clubs and festivals, this book about jazz beautifully captures the essence and spirit of the music. Berendt’s expert curation of images provides a compelling narrative that will engage both jazz enthusiasts and newcomers alike, making this a must-have for anyone with a passion for the art form. Jazz aficionados will appreciate the depth and breadth of this remarkable jazz book.

Duke Ellington: His Life in Jazz

by Stephanie Stein Crease

Duke Ellington: His Life in Jazz by Stephanie Stein Crease is a captivating biography that delves into the life and career of the legendary jazz musician, Duke Ellington. This compelling book on jazz takes readers on a journey through Ellington’s rise to fame, his innovative contributions to the genre, and the impact he made on the world of music. Through vivid storytelling and meticulous research, Crease brings to life the vibrant jazz scene of the early 20th century and provides insight into Ellington’s creative process and enduring legacy. Whether you’re a dedicated jazz enthusiast or simply curious about the life of a musical icon, this jazz book offers a fascinating exploration of Duke Ellington’s extraordinary talent and the indelible mark he left on the world of music.

Jazz: The First Century

by John Edward Hasse

Jazz: The First Century by John Edward Hasse is a comprehensive book about the history and evolution of jazz music. This captivating jazz book takes readers on a journey through the first hundred years of this vibrant and influential genre. Hasse explores the origins of jazz, its development, and the impact it has had on the world of music. Through vivid storytelling and in-depth analysis, the author provides a rich and insightful look into the key musicians, styles, and movements that have shaped jazz into what it is today. Whether you’re a jazz enthusiast or new to the genre, this book on jazz is a fascinating and essential read for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of this iconic musical art form.

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

by Robin D.G. Kelley

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin D.G. Kelley is a captivating biography that delves into the life of the legendary jazz pianist and composer, Thelonious Monk. Kelley’s book on jazz takes readers on a journey through Monk’s fascinating life, from his early days in the vibrant jazz scene of Harlem to his groundbreaking musical innovations and enduring legacy. With rich detail and insightful analysis, Kelley paints a vivid portrait of Monk, exploring his musical genius, his struggles with mental illness, and his profound impact on the world of jazz. This jazz book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of American music and the life of a true original.

Jazz: A History

by Frank Tirro

Jazz: A History by Frank Tirro is a comprehensive and engaging book about the evolution of this influential musical genre. Tirro takes readers on a captivating journey through the origins of jazz, exploring its roots in African American culture and its development into a global phenomenon. This jazz book provides a detailed account of the key figures, movements, and styles that have shaped the genre over the years. With a keen focus on the social and cultural impacts of jazz, Tirro’s writing brings the vibrant history of this music to life. Whether you’re a seasoned jazz enthusiast or a newcomer to the genre, this book on jazz is an essential addition to any music lover’s collection.

Jazz: The American Theme Song

by James Lincoln Collier

Jazz: The American Theme Song, written by James Lincoln Collier, is an in-depth exploration of the history, culture, and impact of this quintessential American art form. This compelling book on jazz takes readers on a journey through the origins of jazz, its evolution, and its influence on American society and beyond. Collier delves into the lives of jazz legends, the development of different jazz styles, and the social and political context that shaped the genre. With vivid storytelling and insightful analysis, this book about jazz captures the essence of this vibrant and ever-changing musical genre. Whether you’re a seasoned jazz enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of jazz, this jazz book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the rich tapestry of American music.

The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s

by Arnold Shaw

The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s, penned by Arnold Shaw, is a captivating exploration of the vibrant and influential world of jazz in the 1920s. This engaging book on jazz delves into the origins, evolution, and impact of this revolutionary genre, shedding light on the cultural, social, and economic forces that shaped its development. Shaw’s vivid storytelling and meticulous research bring to life the colorful characters, the infectious rhythms, and the groundbreaking innovations that defined the jazz age. Through its in-depth analysis and rich anecdotes, this jazz book offers a compelling look at how jazz became the soundtrack of an era and a driving force of cultural change. Whether you’re a music enthusiast or a history buff, this book about jazz promises to transport you to the electrifying world of the roaring 20s.

Jazz: A People’s Music

by Sidney Finkelstein

Jazz: A People’s Music by Sidney Finkelstein is a captivating exploration of the history, culture, and impact of this vibrant and influential musical genre. Finkelstein’s book on jazz delves into the roots of this uniquely American art form, tracing its beginnings in New Orleans and its evolution through the decades. With rich storytelling and insightful analysis, the book about jazz celebrates the contributions of jazz legends and the ways in which jazz has intersected with social and political movements. Finkelstein’s jazz book is a fascinating journey through the complexities and innovations of this dynamic music, offering a deep appreciation for its enduring significance. Whether you’re a devoted jazz enthusiast or new to the genre, Jazz: A People’s Music is a must-read for anyone curious about the profound impact of this genre on culture and society.

Miles: The Autobiography

by Miles Davis

Miles: The Autobiography is a candid and compelling memoir by the legendary jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis. In this book on jazz, Davis takes readers on a journey through his extraordinary life, from his childhood in East St. Louis to his rise to fame in the jazz world. He shares his experiences with racism, his struggles with addiction, and his creative process, providing an intimate look into the life of a true musical genius. Davis’s distinctive voice and bold personality shine through in this jazz book, making it a must-read for fans of the genre and anyone interested in the life of a remarkable artist.

Beneath the Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus

by Charles Mingus

Beneath the Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus by Charles Mingus is a captivating autobiography that offers a unique glimpse into the life of the legendary jazz musician. Mingus’ prose is as improvisational and soulful as his music, as he recounts his experiences with raw honesty and insight. This book is not just a standard autobiography, but a deeply personal and introspective journey that delves into Mingus’ struggles, triumphs, and the creative process behind his music. Mingus’ storytelling is as bold and experimental as his compositions, making this a must-read for anyone interested in the world of jazz. Beneath the Underdog is a profound and illuminating exploration of the complexities of the human experience, and a testament to the enduring legacy of a true jazz icon.

Jazz 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz

by John F. Szwed

Jazz 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz by John F. Szwed is a comprehensive book about jazz that serves as an essential introduction to the genre. Szwed, a renowned jazz expert, provides a captivating exploration of the history, key figures, and defining characteristics of jazz. Through vivid storytelling and insightful analysis, the book offers readers an in-depth understanding of the evolution of jazz and its enduring influence on music and culture. With its accessible writing style and wealth of information, Jazz 101 is the perfect resource for both newcomers and seasoned enthusiasts looking to expand their knowledge and appreciation of this vibrant musical tradition. Whether you’re a curious novice or a dedicated fan, this jazz book is sure to enrich your love for the art form and deepen your connection to the world of jazz.

Jazz: A History of America’s Music

by Geoffrey C. Ward

Jazz: A History of America’s Music by Geoffrey C. Ward is a captivating exploration of the evolution of this uniquely American art form. Ward delves into the origins of jazz, tracing its roots from the African rhythms brought over by slaves to its development in New Orleans and eventual rise to a global phenomenon. This comprehensive book on jazz offers a rich tapestry of historical context, cultural influences, and the pioneering musicians who shaped the genre. Ward’s vivid storytelling and meticulous research bring to life the vibrant, improvisational spirit of this musical tradition, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the history and impact of this quintessentially American art form. Whether you’re a seasoned jazz aficionado or a newcomer to the genre, this book about jazz is sure to deepen your appreciation for the enduring legacy of this remarkable music.

Bird Lives!: The High Life and Hard Times of Charlie \”Yardbird\” Parker

by Ross Russell

Bird Lives!: The High Life and Hard Times of Charlie “Yardbird” Parker by Ross Russell is a captivating book about jazz that delves into the tumultuous life of the legendary saxophonist. Russell’s vivid storytelling takes readers on a journey through the highs and lows of Parker’s career, from his groundbreaking musical innovations to his struggles with addiction and personal demons.

The book offers a compelling portrait of the jazz icon, exploring the impact of his music and the challenges he faced in a racially segregated society. Russell’s in-depth research and intimate knowledge of the jazz world bring Parker’s story to life, offering readers a glimpse into the complexities of his genius and the hard realities he faced. Bird Lives! is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of jazz and the tumultuous life of one of its most influential figures.

Jazz: A Beginner’s Guide

by Stuart Nicholson

Jazz: A Beginner’s Guide by Stuart Nicholson is a comprehensive introduction to the captivating world of jazz. This informative book on jazz explores the history, key figures, and significant developments of this influential musical genre. Nicholson provides a clear and engaging overview of the various styles, from traditional to contemporary jazz, making it an ideal read for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of this diverse and dynamic art form. Whether you’re a newcomer to the jazz scene or a seasoned enthusiast, this jazz book offers a rich and accessible exploration of the music’s evolution and impact. With insightful commentary and a wealth of knowledge, Jazz: A Beginner’s Guide is a must-read for anyone seeking to embark on a journey through the mesmerizing sounds of jazz.

Conclusion

Exploring the world of Jazz through literature can be a deeply enriching experience. The 20 best books about jazz offer a diverse range of insights into the music, its history, and the lives of the artists who shaped it. Whether you’re a jazz enthusiast or someone looking to delve into this captivating genre, these books are sure to provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of jazz. From biographies of legendary musicians to in-depth analyses of key jazz albums, there’s something for everyone in this curated list. Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of jazz through the pages of these exceptional books.

Which Jazz book is best?

The best book on Jazz can vary with personal preference, but three widely recommended titles are:

  1. The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire by Ted Gioia,
  2. Jazz: A History of America’s Music by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns,
  3. Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe.

Each offers valuable insights and could be a great starting point.

What are the best books on Jazz?

The best books on Jazz include:

Each offers unique insights into the subject. While these books on the topic of Jazz are highly regarded, it’s important to note that any list of ‘best’ books is subjective and reflects a range of opinions.

What are the best Jazz books of all time?