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By one of the most respected and stylish critics of jazz, an invigorating, authoritative book arguing that, far from reaching a terminus at the end of the twentieth century, the genre has embarked on a bold new evolutionary phase, exhilarating for its rich, cosmopolitan multiplicity of trends and variety of virtuoso musicians.

With élan and perspicacity, Chinen accounts for the rise of jazz historicism in the late twentieth century and the perennial crisis of jazz's bond with the public. He shows how an influential classicist agenda led to the rise of an unprecedented institution, Jazz at Lincoln Center, spearheaded by Wynton Marsalis, and a rugged opposition (most notably associated with the Knitting Factory in downtown New York), at stake being definitions of the music and who gets to claim it. Incisively he analyzes how a new generation of venerated, shape-shifting elders (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Henry Threadgill, Terence Blanchard) have through their example and active mentorship effected profound changes in the soundscape of the music. Chinen investigates how the establishment of a pedagogical model for jazz in high schools and conservatories has been the single greatest catalyst in the music's development over the last forty years while examining the rise of influential interdisciplinary jazz studies at major universities. Provocatively he highlights the global jazz ecology and its implications for the art form (a polyglot musical language, shifting demographics, vibrant developments in unlikely places abroad) and wonders whether jazz can still be considered "America's music" in any true sense. Chinen contextualizes some of the most galvanizing talent to emerge in the last fifteen years, like the ebullient Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen, the big band composer Darcy James Argue, and the cooly prickly guitarist Mary Halvorson. And he is incisively aware of how hip-hop and R&B have informed idioms of jazz nowadays, as instanced by the hybridism of the Robert Glasper Experiment and Snarky Puppy, for example. Playing Changes is bejeweled with interstitial profiles of visionaries who call all manner of orthodoxy into question: Brad Mehldau, Steve Coleman, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, Esperanza Spalding, and Cécile McLorin Salvant.

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