Writing Jazz

David Meltzer, editor

Music / literature & essay
$16.95, 336 pages
ISBN 978-1562790967


A companion volume to the critically acclaimed Reading Jazz, Writing Jazz is the first comprehensive historical anthology of writings on jazz by African-American musicians, critics, writers, and poets. Arranged historically with equal attention paid to both essay and lyric, this collection encompasses voices from the Spirituals and the Blues to Free Jazz and the Black Arts Movement. It includes selections from Louis Armstrong, Amiri Baraka, Sidney Bechet, Miles Davis, Ralph Ellison, Dizzie Gillespie, Nikki Giovanni, Billie Holiday, Son House, Langston Hughes, Furry Lewis, Albert Murray, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Wole Soyinka, Ethel Waters, Booker White, Richard Wright, and others. Challenging and no doubt controversial, Writing Jazz, like its companion, is a valuable historical sourcebook and a provocative read. will be indispensible not only for jazz enthusiasts but also for anyone interested in the evolution of modern culture.

“'Writing Jazz' [is] 'Reading’s' companion volume (or better, its rebuttal, its discourse flip, its knowledge inversion, its racial table turn), wherein black musicians and critics take the reins and do their own writing about jazz.... [A] big living, breathing resource glob overflowing with chunks of stories and histories, some familiar, some arcane. ... In true Meltzer style, the anthology is a rich and fulfilling mess... Like Borges running amok in a jazz library.”
—boston phoenix


David Meltzer began his literary career during the Beat heyday in San Francisco, reading poetry to jazz accompaniment at the famous Jazz Cellar. A pioneer of jazz poetry readings, musician in a psychedelic folk-rock group, long-time teacher in the poetics program at New College of California, and editor of many anthologies, his most recent work is When I was a Poet (City Lights Publishers, 2011).


This publication was made possible thanks to a generous grants from the Lannan Foundation and the Reva & David Logan Foundation.

Cover illustration by Ward Schumaker.