Monday, December 10, 2012

Marc Myers

Marc Myers is the author of Why Jazz Happened.

From his Q & A with Scott Timberg:

Part of me wonders why it took so long for someone to do this. But: What made you want to write this kind of atypical, outside-in musical history? Did you have a specific historian or historical school in mind as a model?

Most jazz histories have been written from the inside out—meaning the writer’s perspective and conclusions were based largely on the artists and the albums they recorded. Such books don’t often account for external forces or the economic, business, cultural and technological events that took place and had an impact on artists and how they thought and created.

When I was studying history in Columbia University’s graduate program in the 1980s, social history was hot. “What” was important but so was “why,” and “why” was often much more interesting in explaining timelines and outcomes. So whether you were researching the Civil War, Imperialism or the Depression, the facts themselves were essential but so were the socio-economic issues that enabled such events to take place when they did.

I wanted to approach jazz the same way. Instead of treating it as a string of musicians and recordings, I wanted to see what forces outside of jazz caused jazz styles to change so rapidly between 1942 and 1972. By forces, I mean the opportunities that musicians faced and he pressures they faced. What I discovered is that the 10 major styles that surfaced between 1942 and 1972 did so for reasons that...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue