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Leonard Bernstein and the Language of Jazz by Katherine Baber (review)

Leonard Bernstein and the Language of Jazz by Katherine Baber (review) BOOK REVIEWS Leonard Bernstein and the Language of Jazz. By Katherine Baber. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019. ISBN 978- 0- 25208- 416- 4. Paper. Pp. 304. $27.95. “Jazz is a very big word.” In her new book, Leonard Bernstein and the Language of Jazz, Katherine Baber begins by quoting the maestro himself and then sets forth the ambitious task of illuminating for readers how Bernstein’s compositional language intersects with, engages, reflects, and responds to this very big word, jazz. The result goes far beyond a style study (even though it is excellent in this regard) to provide not only keen insights into Bernstein’s creative process and compositional philosophy but also profound cultural critique that helps us under - stand why and how his ideas, musical and extramusical, resonate with audiences. As ambitious as this project is, Baber is quick to acknowledge that jazz is not the beginning and the end of the story when it comes to Bernstein: “Looking at a determinedly polystylistic composer through the lens of one style, however important, might not do either the composer of the style justice” (1). On the other hand, while jazz may not be “central,” it is “pervasive” and “permeates http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Leonard Bernstein and the Language of Jazz by Katherine Baber (review)

American Music , Volume 38 (4) – Mar 2, 2021

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349

Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS Leonard Bernstein and the Language of Jazz. By Katherine Baber. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019. ISBN 978- 0- 25208- 416- 4. Paper. Pp. 304. $27.95. “Jazz is a very big word.” In her new book, Leonard Bernstein and the Language of Jazz, Katherine Baber begins by quoting the maestro himself and then sets forth the ambitious task of illuminating for readers how Bernstein’s compositional language intersects with, engages, reflects, and responds to this very big word, jazz. The result goes far beyond a style study (even though it is excellent in this regard) to provide not only keen insights into Bernstein’s creative process and compositional philosophy but also profound cultural critique that helps us under - stand why and how his ideas, musical and extramusical, resonate with audiences. As ambitious as this project is, Baber is quick to acknowledge that jazz is not the beginning and the end of the story when it comes to Bernstein: “Looking at a determinedly polystylistic composer through the lens of one style, however important, might not do either the composer of the style justice” (1). On the other hand, while jazz may not be “central,” it is “pervasive” and “permeates

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 2, 2021

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