Marc Myers, Why Jazz Happened (University of California Press)
A respected jazz critic and blogger with a masters degree in US history, Myers assesses the effects of social, political and business forces on the development of the music. He provides context in chapters on the influences of recording technology, radio, race relations, the G.I. Bill, the musicians union and rock culture, among other phenomena. Myers confines discussion of jazz’s first two decades to the introduction, but he is perceptive on the advent of bebop and on the relation of suburban spread to the burgeoning of jazz in Southern California. The title of his last chapter may be a note of optimism: Jazz Hangs On. This is a valuable study.