Jeff Sultanof, Experiencing Big Band Jazz: A Listener’s Companion (Rowman & Littlefield)
The scope of jazz played by large ensembles is vast, but the clear-thinking scholar-musician Jeff Sultanof compresses its century-long history into a 200-page book. He accomplishes that feat by leading readers through big band music and its makers almost as if he had us by the hand. He does so by presenting musical examples that are part of the digital world in which most of us live. He explains on an early page,
The neat thing is that you don’t have to spend one penny to listen to the examples cited in this book; all but one of them are on the Web via YouTube or Spotify.
Thus, you can read, for example, a description of Bill Holman’s arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing,”—complete with Sultanof’s time-markings of crucial moments—and experience the music. This is a book that lives up to its title.