14 MARCH 1958, Page 22

More on Jazz

The Story of Jazz. By Marshall W. Stearns. (Sidgwick and Jackson, 30s.)

YET another Jazz book : and yet another guided tour, one foreSees, among the African origins, the Blues foundations, the New Orleans awaken- ing, the Chicago consolidation,-the Bop revolu- tion, and the disputed Progressive future. There iS something so similar about these chronicles-- chiefly because the story of Jazz is so very short, and by now so well documented, and its historians often so ignorant of any other art beside their on Mr. Marshall Stearns is no such blinkered primitive. The essential facts are there (wit heaven be praised, no explanatory charts), and backed by thoughtful and original opinions. There is an excellent section on the Negro and While contributions to Jazz, and the psychology of their relationship, that really gets down below the sur- faces of tact and prejudice.

In the chapters on the succession of Jazz styles, Mr. Stearns has an unusual gift for verbal evoca- tion of a sound. And when he draws his conclu- sions, he meets the disdainful classicist on his own ground by drawing crafty analogies with European and even Oriental music. He also faces squarely the charge that Jazz is an animal; mind- less music—not covering up defensively as most apologists do.

Mr. Stearns's book is more than a history--it is a reflective study that forces one to brood and ponder on the whole fantastic phenomenon Of Jazz—its sudden rise, its almost global diffusic and its extraordinary capacity, in spite of all the forebodings of the nay-sayers, to renew itself and throw up artists of continually amazing talent.