April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), and UC Press is jazzed to celebrate! Founded in 2001 by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, JAM serves to recognize the collective influence jazz musicians, venues, and culture have had on the course of American history. Furthermore, JAM “is intended to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz – to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and more.”

With an extensive jazz list that extends over the past twenty years, UC Press is proud to present a selection of our recent books on jazz, in honor of this historic month.

To save 30% on all jazz titles, enter code 18W8495 at checkout.

Sophisticated Giant
The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon

by Maxine Gordon

“Dexter Gordon’s deep tone, relaxed delivery—even the frequent witty musical quotations—seemed like extensions of his gravely playful speaking voice. That voice carries over on the page too. You can hear it when you read his written testimony and extracts from letters included in Maxine Gordon’s illuminating biography.”—Kevin Whitehead, NPR’s Fresh Air

Sophisticated Giant presents the life and legacy of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon (1923–1990), one of the major innovators of modern jazz. In a context of biography, history, and memoir, Maxine Gordon has completed the book that her late husband began, weaving his “solo” turns with her voice and a chorus of voices from past and present. Reading like a jazz composition, the blend of research, anecdote, and a selection of Dexter’s personal letters reflects his colorful life and legendary times. It is clear why the celebrated trumpet genius Dizzy Gillespie said to Dexter, “Man, you ought to leave your karma to science.”

Why Jazz Happened

by Marc Myers

“’Why Jazz Happened‘ Makes Its Points Like a Snazzy Lawyer in the Courtroom: Zip, Zam, Zot. . . . Students and fans of jazz will come away enlightened about a huge part of the jazz story that has been mostly untold, before this otherwise intelligent and well-reported book was published.”—Will Layman, Popmatters.com

Newly released in paperback, Why Jazz Happened is the first comprehensive social history of jazz. It provides an intimate and compelling look at the many forces that shaped this most American of art forms and the many influences that gave rise to jazz’s post-war styles. Rich with the voices of musicians, producers, promoters, and others on the scene during the decades following World War II, this book views jazz’s evolution through the prism of technological advances, social transformations, changes in the law, economic trends, and much more.

The Jazz Bubble
Neoclassical Jazz in Neoliberal Culture

by Dale Chapman

“At every giant step of this riveting study, Chapman charts the interlocking histories of jazz, financialization, and cultural geography. From the risk and speculation behind Miles Davis’s great quintets to Dexter Gordon’s ‘homecoming’ amid bankrupt 1970s New York to the political economy of Verve Records to the ‘right to the city’ expressed in California jazz venues, this book ventures boldly original, prodigiously learned, and terrifically acute analyses of postwar U.S. musical culture.”—Eric Lott, author of Black Mirror: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism

Contemporary jazz culture has a story to tell about the relationship between political economy and social practice in the era of neoliberal capitalism. The Jazz Bubble approaches the emergence of the neoclassical jazz aesthetic since the 1980s as a powerful, if unexpected, point of departure for a wide-ranging investigation of important social trends during this period, extending from the effects of financialization in the music industry to the structural upheaval created by urban redevelopment in major American cities.

Loft Jazz
Improvising New York in the 1970s

by Michael C. Heller

“…Heller’s book can be read nearly as a how-to manual for constructing a vibrant musical scene. It’s an examination of a treasure trove of archival materials and primary source interviews, and a smart read.”—The Free Jazz Collective

The New York loft jazz scene of the 1970s was a pivotal period for uncompromising, artist-produced work. Faced with a flagging jazz economy, a group of young avant-garde improvisers chose to eschew the commercial sphere and develop alternative venues in the abandoned factories and warehouses of Lower Manhattan. Loft Jazz provides the first book-length study of this period, tracing its history amid a series of overlapping discourses surrounding collectivism, urban renewal, experimentalist aesthetics, underground archives, and the radical politics of self-determination.