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Play the Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film

Kevin Whitehead (Jazz Critic, Jazz Critic, NPR's Fresh Air)



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Oxford University Press Inc
15 May 2020
Films, movies & cinema; Music; Theory of music & musicology; Jazz
Jazz stories have been entwined with cinema since the inception of jazz film genre in the 1920s, giving us origin tales and biopics, spectacles and low-budget quickies, comedies, musicals, and dramas, and stories of improvisers and composers at work. And the jazz film has seen a resurgence in recent years--from biopics like Miles Ahead and HBO's Bessie, to dramas Whiplash and La La Land. In Play the Way You Feel, author and jazz critic Kevin Whitehead offers a comprehensive guide to these films and other media from the perspective of the music itself. Spanning 93 years of film history, the book looks closely at movies, cartoons, and a few TV shows that tell jazz stories, from early talkies to modern times, with an eye to narrative conventions and common story points. Examining the ways historical films have painted a clear picture of the past or overtly distorted history, Play the Way You Feel serves up capsule discussions of sundry topics including Duke Ellington's social life at the Cotton Club, avant-garde musical practices in 1930s vaudeville, and Martin Scorsese's improvisatory method on the set of New York, New York. Throughout the book, Whitehead brings the same analytical bent and concise, witty language listeners know from his jazz segments on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He investigates well-known songs, traces the development of the stock jazz film ending, and offers fresh, often revisionist takes on works by such directors as Howard Hawks, John Cassavetes, Shirley Clarke, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Spike Lee, Robert Altman, Woody Allen and Damien Chazelle. In all, Play the Way You Feel is a feast for film-genre fanatics and movie-watching jazz enthusiasts.
By:   Kevin Whitehead (Jazz Critic Jazz Critic NPR's Fresh Air)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 257mm,  Width: 186mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   1.022kg
ISBN:   9780190847579
ISBN 10:   0190847573
Pages:   304
Publication Date:   15 May 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction Prologue: The I Got Rhythm of Jazz Movies 1927 & 1946 Chapter One: Duke's Day & First Features 1929-1940 Chapter Two: Origin Stories 1941-1947 Chapter Three: Bands of Brothers 1941-1948 Chapter Four: Young Men with Horns-the Jazz Biopic's Golden Age 1950-1959 Chapter Five: The Jazz Musician (and Fan) as Character 1951-1961 Chapter Six: Independents in Black & White 1961-1967 Chapter Seven: Spectacles 1972-1984 Chapter Eight: Suffering Artists 1984-1989 Chapter Nine: Young Lions & Historical Fictions 1990-2000 Chapter Ten: The Jazz Musician (and Fan) as Character 1959-2016 Chapter Eleven: Movies within Movies & New Orleans Comes Back 2008-2019 Postscript: Print the Legend Acknowledgments Notes Bibliography Index

Kevin Whitehead, the longtime jazz critic for NPR's Fresh Air, has written about jazz, movies, and popular culture for 40 years. His books include New Dutch Swing (1998) and Why Jazz? A Concise Guide (2011). His essays have appeared in such collections as The Cartoon Music Book, Discover Jazz and Traveling the Spaceways: Sun Ra, the Astro-Black and Other Solar Myths. Whitehead has taught at the University of Kansas, Towson University, and Goucher College.

Reviews for Play the Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film

Jazz and cinema, the two definitive art forms of the 20th Century, have led an often troubled co-existence. Play the Way You Feel traces the frequent missteps and occasional triumphs of jazz in film with the deep knowledge, superior taste, and acerbic wit we have come to expect from Kevin Whitehead. AAn essential book for all jazz fans, and a necessary corrective for anyone whose knowledge of the music is based on what they have learned at the movies. -- Bob Blumenthal, author of Jazz: An Introduction to the History and Legends Behind America's Music A revelation! From the bad to the beautiful, Kevin Whitehead brilliantly illuminates each frame to show us why jazz in the movies matters in all its incarnations. He masterfully guides us through this rich and complicated story, making connections that reveal deeper meanings and aha moments that change our view of jazz, film and ourselves. -- Dominique Eade, Jazz Vocalist and Teacher, New England Conservatory Readers... will be rewarded by insights from an author of discerning taste with a deep understanding of his subject, who yields fresh perspectives on even well-known films. -- Library Journal This is the best volume around on how the film-jazz scenario plays out... Each extended film reconstruction reflects Whitehead's careful watching and thorough research. --Arts Fuse What makes all of this quite enjoyable is the colorful way that [Whitehead] writes, his wit, and a countless number of fascinating details... Even the most devoted jazz film experts will learn a great deal from this book. --Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene

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