You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century

Time to rethink jazz

You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

When we talk about jazz, we generally contextualize a tradition that encompasses specific ways of harmonizing, improvising, and swinging – musical facets preserved and revered, maybe advanced, but never altered. In Playing Changes, Nate Chinen argues for moving past that approach. The WBGO content director/former jazz writer for The New York Times, Village Voice, and NPR uses solid research, copious interviews, and an accessible writing style to highlight a generation of musicians respectful of, but beyond, tradition. Maverick pianists Jason Moran, Brad Mehldau, and Vijay Iyer, guitarist Mary Halvorson, trumpeter Dave Douglas, saxophonists Steve Coleman and Kamasi Washington, and producer Flying Lotus see jazz not as a fixed point but as a living entity, morphing into new and exciting forms. Important chapters on the history of formal jazz education, the dual rise of Wynton Marsalis' conservative traditionalism and the downtown NYC avant-garde scene of John Zorn, and jazz's international reach means leaving out some of today's iconoclasts, like Bill Frisell. The book ends with a comprehensive list of notable albums from every year of the new century, which will prove handy on your next trip to the record store.


Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century

by Nate Chinen
Pantheon, 288 pp., $27.95

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Jazz
2am at the Cat's Pajamas
2am at the Cat's Pajamas
Jazz in the life and night of a 9-year-old

Neph Basedow, Oct. 24, 2014

More Music Reviews
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way
The Parrothead behind the empire

Doug Freeman, July 21, 2017

All Over the Map, True Heroes of Texas Music
All Over the Map, True Heroes of Texas Music

Kevin Curtin, June 16, 2017

More by Michael Toland
SXSW Music Review: Swervedriver
SXSW Music Review: Swervedriver
Pulling the plug on the sweetest of crunches

March 16, 2019

SXSW Music Review: The Comet Is Coming
SXSW Music Review: The Comet Is Coming
London jazz-tronica trio sparks psychedelic soul vibrations

March 15, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Jazz, Jason Moran, Brad Mehldau, Vijay Iyer, Dave Douglas, Steve Coleman, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus, Wynton Marsalis, John Zorn

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle