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Publisher's Summary

An acclaimed music scholar presents an accessible introduction to the art of listening to jazz.

In How to Listen to Jazz, award-winning music scholar Ted Gioia presents a lively introduction to one of America's premier art forms. He tells us what to listen for in a performance and includes a guide to today's leading jazz musicians. From Louis Armstrong's innovative sounds to the jazz-rock fusion of Miles Davis, Gioia covers the music's history and reveals the building blocks of improvisation. A true love letter to jazz by a foremost expert, How to Listen to Jazz is a must-listen for anyone who's ever wanted to understand and better appreciate America's greatest contribution to music.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Ted Gioia (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A radiantly accomplished writer.... Gioia conveys his passion for the music with vivid description and shrewd judgements." ( Wall Street Journal)
"Gioia could not have done a better job. Through him, jazz might even find new devotees." ( Economist)

What listeners say about How to Listen to Jazz

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    4 out of 5 stars

Kind of useless as an audiobook.

Unlike the book I just finished about classical music, this audiobook has no music. Descriptions of what I should be hearing would be very useful if I had a PDF that I could go to afterwards. The PDF included with this one gives a list of artists, but no references to what was discussed in the book, or where I could go to in the book to find it again. So essentially what you get is a lot of verbal descriptions of songs.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved everything about the material in this book!

The history, advice, and interpretations were all expertly helpful. I did wish there was access to the Pdf of present and future jazz greats.

2 people found this helpful

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a must for any Jazz listener

I absolutely loved it listening to the Arc of the explanation I was able to recall my own experience listening to all of these great artists

2 people found this helpful

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Not really a "how to"

This is more of a history than a guide to listening. Goia's histories are good.

5 people found this helpful

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Perfect for a jazz newbie

I know next to nothing about jazz, so picked up this book after a recommendation from someone else. I found it to be an excellent overview of jazz with great narration by a jazz cat. I would highly recommend this book to provide some basics concerning the different varieties and history of jazz music.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent work

An important book that actually teaches listening strategies. passionately read. a must read for anyone who is interested in getting into jazz.

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Love Jazz, now I understand why!

I have been listening to jazz for many years now. I even write about local jazz musicians to promote their performances. I loved the way Ted Gioia treated his presentation. His vocabulary is rich and evocative. His enthusiasm infectious. His rich knowledge enviable. Listen. You will be happy you did.

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  • Mark
  • 02-14-18

Did exactly what I wanted it to do

I came to this book with a small amount of Jazz knowledge, but I wanted to expand my understanding of the styles and find a way in to pieces that I found difficult to appreciate.

This book does just that. It gives you and good oversight of all the main sub-genres, players and the history of the music. But most importantly for this sort of book, it gave me the enthusiasm to seek out the suggestions and go deeper than I had before. I would recommend this to anyone that is on the begining of their Jazz journey.

The narrator has a smooth but slow delivery, and I was quite happy to turn him up to 1.5x speed.

Ps. He still hasn't sold me on Ornette Coleman!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Fraser
  • 01-25-20

Highly recommended

I am definitely a jazz fan but I also am very aware of my limited knowledge of repertoire and jazz music. I, therefore, chose this audio book to broaden my musical horizons, and to learn of different artists and recordings in the jazz genre that I hadn't experienced previously. I also hoped the book might give my "music theory trained" brain a different approach to experiencing jazz music. Mr Gioia's book was a success on both accounts. Although at times I felt his defence of jazz a little demeaning to other genres, overall the book has a balanced approach and is very clear that these recommendations are Mr Gioia's own, and may not reflect everyone's preferences.

I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who is beginning their journey in listening to jazz, or to anyone with a limited knowledge of the music and legends of jazz.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M. Parrott
  • 08-10-21

Fantastic introduction

A brilliant introduction to Jazz. A mysterious type of music, brilliantly explained. From its genesis to its structure to the great heros and recommendations as to the best music to begin educating oneself, this audio book is riveting listen. The narrator manages to convey the passion of the author and ends the book with the upbeat prediction that whatever the future holds for this constantly evolving music you wont be bored. I wasn't bored by this audiobook!

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  • geoff nemec
  • 06-11-21

Excellent piece of work

Extremely informative and entertaining. As someone who has been around music for many years and knew little about jazz, this was perfect

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  • Tom Hanna
  • 10-17-20

Must read for jazz lovers.


Covering the history of the musc and milestone recordings of jazz. A virtual directory of the best available examples around today.

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  • Luke
  • 12-21-17

Good start and end but not great

Most of the best insights are at the beginning and end. In between is a history of jazz and jazz artists which has been done better by Shipton and others, in much more detail. He doesn't actually get around to saying what his criteria for excellence are! A bit disappointing, but still worthwhile.