Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion

Course No. 728
Professor Bill Messenger, M.A.
The Peabody Institute
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4.5 out of 5
133 Reviews
80% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 728
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Course Overview

The uniquely American music and art form, jazz, is one of America's great contributions to world culture. Now you can learn the basics of jazz and its history in a course as free-flowing and original as jazz itself. Taught by Professor Bill Messenger of the Peabody Institute, the lectures in this course are a must for music lovers. They will have you reaching deep into your own music collection and going straight out to a music store to add to it.

Professor Messenger has spent his life in music as student, teacher, and professional musician. He has studied and lectured at the famed Peabody Institute and written an acclaimed book on music activities aimed at older adults.

And as a pianist, he has:

  • Played in ragtime ensembles, swing bands, Dixieland bands, and modern jazz groups
  • Been a successful studio musician in the early days of rock 'n' roll
  • Accompanied performers as renowned as Lou Rawls and Mama Cass Elliot
  • Opened for Bill Haley and the Comets.

So it is no wonder that the course he has created is so thorough and enjoyable.

Lectures, Piano, and Guest Performers

It's a rich mix of jazz, its elements, era, and practitioners. Professor Messenger frequently turns to his piano to illustrate his musical points, often with the help of guest performance artists and lots of original music.

The lectures follow the story of jazz in its many shapes, including:

  • Ragtime
  • The blues
  • The swing music of the big band era
  • Boogie-woogie
  • Big band blues
  • The rise of modern jazz forms: bebop, cool, modal, free, and fusion.

Cakewalks, Vaudeville, and Swing

Beginning with the music and dance of the antebellum plantation, Professor Messenger reveals how the "cakewalks" of slave culture gave birth to a dance craze at the 19th century's end that was ignorant of its own humble roots.

He considers how minstrel shows, deriving from Southern beliefs that held black culture to be decidedly inferior, eventually created a musical industry that African American musicians would dominate for decades to come. You will learn how and why jazz, a difficult genre to define, was central to the music they created.

Roots in Ragtime

Professor Messenger explains how jazz was born—or conceived—in the ragtime piano tunes of turn-of-the-century America. Together with the Dixieland funeral music of New Orleans, this new, "syncopated" music popularized a sound that took America's vaudeville establishments by storm.

Professor Messenger notes that ragtime's most popular composer, Scott Joplin, at first resisted the new craze. But after becoming intrigued by that "ragged" sound at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, he became the writer of the most memorable rags ever, including "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer."

Drawing on the blues, an emotional but harmonically simple music, jazz was ensconced as a popular genre in the American psyche by the 1920s.

The Surprising Origin of the "St. Louis Blues"

One interesting story about the blues covered in the course concerns W. C. Handy, a man often referred to as the "father of the blues." As Professor Messenger reveals that, in truth, Handy didn't like the blues very much and wasn't convinced the public would buy it.

It was only after he saw a band of blues players literally showered with money after a performance that he began writing the music in earnest. Handy was at the same World's Fair Joplin attended, and he heard a song he later arranged into what became the famous "St. Louis Blues."

Professor Messenger points out, nothing about the song was original; it was a melting pot of many influences. The blues is, in his words, the "emotional germ of jazz." It is the place jazz always returns to when it veers too far into the abstract or academic.

An Innovation that Changed Jazz Forever

One of the most important events in the history of jazz, and all performance, was the invention of the microphone in 1924. Before the microphone, singers needed big voices to project their voices across large music halls, and the booming styles of performers such as Bessie Smith and Al Jolson met those requirements admirably.

After the microphone, though, things were very different. The new invention did more than simply allow for the use of quieter instruments like the guitar and string bass. It also brought smaller-voiced singers—Bing Crosby, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, for instance—into the limelight.

Into the 1930s and 40s, popular music became heavily arranged for bigger and bigger bands. By the time the swing era of America's big bands took hold around World War II, jazz had reached new popular heights.

You will learn why swing became so popular—the syncopation and improvisation of early jazz, in the context of careful arrangements, combined planning and spontaneity in a unique way.

Though not to be confused with the sound of competing society bands, swing music gave talents like Benny Goodman a chance to improvise within the framework of Top 40 hits.

More than Swing

The development of jazz into swing electrified popular music. You learn:

  • How boogie-woogie, a precursor of rock 'n' roll that was primed with a heavy-handed, highly rhythmic style, found widespread success in the 1940s until its ubiquity forced it out of fashion
  • How big band blues, where the simplicity of the blues standard was overlaid on the pop song, fused the worlds of folk art and high art
  • How bebop—an austere, anxious music whose success was blazed by the genius of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker—worked against the commercial spread of swing
  • How modern jazz spans everything—from the cool jazz of the 1950s to the fusion jazz of the 1990s, with several stops in between.

Music for Today

In recent decades many forms of modern jazz—including cool, modal, free, and fusion—have had their devoted following. All serve to prove that jazz is a generic music that comprises many varieties.

True to its name, jazz has defied definition, category, and stagnation. And this course—in toe-tapping, finger-snapping ways—will feed your intellectual curiosity and appreciation.

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8 lectures
 |  Average 37 minutes each
  • 1
    Plantation Beginnings
    In this introductory lecture we discuss the birth of jazz: where and how it came into existence. This "distant" music has had profound effect on the music of today, and specifically on Mick Jagger. The lecture concludes with the origin of minstrel shows. x
  • 2
    The Rise and Fall of Ragtime
    The emergence of ragtime in the 1890s can be compared to the emergence of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. Ragtime has many variations; it's not restricted to the piano. Are certain melodies prone to being "ragged"? America's greatest ragtime composer strenuously resisted the genre he would later come to love. x
  • 3
    The Jazz Age
    In general, jazz is syncopated music with more improvisation than there is in ragtime. Understand the difference between modern and traditional jazz. A technological advance made a huge impact on the development of jazz from its very beginnings. x
  • 4
    We've all heard the blues, perhaps even hummed along. Ever wonder why it has such profound effect on its listeners? This vital style is at the core of all jazz performance. Whenever jazz becomes complex to the point of inaccessibility, jazz musicians inevitably return to the blues. x
  • 5
    The Swing Era
    Swing was for the youth of the Depression what jazz was for the previous generation and what ragtime was for the generation that preceded that one. In its time, swing seemed modern, rebellious, and tailored for a younger generation. In this genre, bands swing together as if they were one instrument, antiphonal section playing and arranged background riffs behind improvised solos. x
  • 6
    Boogie, Big Band Blues, and Bop
    We cover the distinctions between boogie-woogie and ragtime, and find out why each was commercialized to death. Also, see the relationship of early rock 'n' roll to boogie-woogie. Find out what effect electricity had on boogie-woogie. Following the chronological trend of this music, we look at 1940s modern jazz. With the emergence of bop, we see things get more complex. x
  • 7
    Modern Jazz
    During the 20th century, all the arts broke away from established rules to explore new territory. Modern jazz used extended chords and frequent chord changes, among other things. We discuss the "Cool School" of the early 1950s, modal jazz, free jazz, fusion, and funky jazz. Which of these schools was most influenced by rock? x
  • 8
    The ABC's of Jazz Improvisation
    How can 10 musicians get together, have no idea what any of the others will play, start at the same time, and make wonderful music? This lecture explains how this is done. And, with our explanation, we discover that the musicians are perhaps not as free as they appear. Bill Messenger and friends demonstrate jazz improvisation on our sound stage. x

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Your professor

Bill Messenger

About Your Professor

Bill Messenger, M.A.
The Peabody Institute
Professor Bill Messenger studied musical composition, on scholarship, at The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University under Louis Cheslock. He attended a master’s class in 1963 with Nadia Boulanger, the teacher of Roy Harris, Virgil Thompson, and Aaron Copland. Professor Messenger has two master’s degrees, both from Johns Hopkins University. He has done additional graduate work in musicology at the University of...
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Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 133.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Short Survey on Jazz: Now What? audio download version As this is the only Great Courses course on jazz, I felt compelled to pick it up. It is very good, insofar as it goes, but it does not go very far nor very deep. Now I don't consider this professor Messenger's fault as he attempts to go from the 19th century through to the modern era, in eight lectures and cover everything from pre-ragtime to fusion jazz, but surely the TC could have allowed a few more lectures for America's only art form. To be sure Messenger is a knowledgeable and skillful presenter, and given his constraints does an excellent job of using his piano to illustrate his points along with several selected recording and also using some guests artists. And even though I've listened to this music ever since I was in high school in the 50s, I learned a great deal. For example I had not realized that one of the main reasons that the tuba and banjo of Dixieland groups were replaced by the guitar and bass was because the invention of the microphone allowing those instruments to be more easily heard over the rest of the instruments. I have given this course a reluctant five stars, even though I am extremely disappointed that it stands alone as all there is in jazz, and that it is so short, because the material presented is well done and very organized and because I wish to encourage the TC to produce another course or two. Put another way, I am afraid that lower ranking reviews would tend to discourage the production of additional courses on jazz. I might suggest a course on bop, a form that only got a portion of one lecture and that was pretty much reduced to crediting Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and giving a short example. Or if this style might be too arcane to justify the production costs, surely a course on swing and the Big Band era would generate enough sales to make the TC a modest profit. On the other hand this one course, good though it is may not have sold well enough to encourage the production of additional ones, something that is clearly not a problem on the classical side. Other than only allowing eight lectures for the subject, my only negative is that I thought that the last lecture was not up to the standards of the other seven. I expected to learn something about the process of improvisation, but instead it was just some examples where Messenger and a few others played after a few introductory comments. Enjoyable, but nothing that I could not get off album liner noters and then listening to the cuts. Highly recommended, but please give us more.
Date published: 2015-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overview of the roots of modern jazz The course starts with the origins of jazz, starting with cakewalk and plantation music. Lectures are devoted to ragtime, blues, and swing, each with generous musical examples, many of which are performed by the professor himself. He is a fabulous jazz pianist with superb improvisational skills, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz musicians. He emphasizes the importance of syncopation and improvisation as the keys to modern jazz, and how that grew out of ragtime syncopation. Listening to the course feels like going back in time to a different age, because the professor puts the music in the context of contemporary society and historical events. Highly recommended, and stands up to repeat listening.
Date published: 2015-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from American Music Very enjoyable course. I'm not a jazz aficionado; I enjoy a variety of music, such as ragtime, and I took this course out of curiosity. I found Professor Messenger to be a very entertaining lecturer, and he seems to have collected impressive amounts of American music memorabilia. FYI, in the Bibliography of the Guidebook, he states that this course "serves as a casual excursion through the world of jazz." I found that to be the case. Also FYI, on my audio CD, the professor mentioned visuals that he displayed, but he did such a good job of describing them that I didn't miss seeing them. I found it useful to have taken two of Professor Greenberg's courses prior to this one: Fundamentals of Music, and Great Music (I've learned that some Bach and boogie-woogie have something in common!)
Date published: 2015-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite courses Just to understand my background, I have no musical background except that I love to listen to music and I have a good ear for music. However, I loved every bit of this course. It is one I have listened to twice, despite it's length. It actually got me inspired enough to want to learn music just so I could play some of the music described. It's probably one of the few courses that you could listen to just for entertainment. And I absolutely loved learned about the roots of jazz.
Date published: 2015-10-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Jazzy Audio download. There are many fine reviews of this course, so I won't repeat all the praises here. For those considering buying these lectures, know that it only scratches the surface of both the history of this uniquely American music genre, as well the the infinite varieties of 'jazz'...from cakewalk to boogie-woogie to dixieland to ragtime to blues, all the way down to modern ('60's to 90's) rock 'n roll (fusion jazz). And know that it is great fun. Bill Messenger, with his clear, friendly voice and wonderfully flawless piano licks provides a good balance between lectures and music...you can actually learn stuff about the 'structure' of music that makes it more fun when listening to both the older classics (Scott Joplin and Louie Armstrong) as well as the newer Winton Marcellus....even the oldies with those great voices (Sinatra, Martin, Bennett,etc). As an aside, I've even found a very nice 'station' on Pandora...Kevin Spacey Radio...very entertaining...that has songs that show all the elements discussed in these lectures These lectures are often on sale (might be because it was produced in the '90's) and can be had for bargain-basement prices (so wait for that sale and that special coupon). You will listen to these lectures again and again....
Date published: 2015-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Great Courses Needs More on This Topic This is the only course that comes up when you search the Great Courses web site for "Jazz" and it doesn't even show up at all when you search for "Music". The course points out the tendency for many to under-value jazz music when compared with classical music (yet in many respects it is more advanced). So too the Great Courses organization has under-valued jazz music as a topic for their courses - they apparently don't even think it's music, judging by their search results! The course itself is a very useful introduction, although as others have remarked it's rather loosely organized and many topics don't get enough attention. There should be a comprehensive set of courses on this kind of music with whole courses devoted to each of the various genre's that get at most one lecture here, and even whole courses on individual performers. The swing era gets one rather cursory lecture, for example. Count Basie is mentioned once, in a passing remark, Woody Herman not at all. Come on, Great Courses, get with it!
Date published: 2015-07-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loose Presentation but Good The course was enlightening and good. However, it was a bit short, the performances and production were a bit loose. Jazz is about improvisation, though I don't think the course had to be. Nonetheless, it's well worth your money and time. The professor is likable, talented and knowledgable.
Date published: 2015-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion Delightful and informative marginally do justice to this series of lectures and demonstrations. The instructor has an infectious enthusiasm about the topic. He also provides a significant bibliography for going further into the history of this music style. He also has an engaging instructional style - such that the material sticks. Since I have relatives who were musicians during the 20s and 30s, this series helped me better understand how they came to the styles they perfected during their professional careers. All in all, a perfect way to enjoy my 25-mile daily commute and be informed as well!
Date published: 2015-02-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Starts Strong, Finishes Weak I definitely enjoyed the first half of this course. There was a lot of history, good examples, fun anecdotes, and so on. Not a jazz maven, it was really interesting to learn about the roots of this music. Unfortunately, the closer we got to modern times (relative to 1995 when this was recorded), the weaker the course became. Unlike any other course I've purchased, he actually interviews people. Sadly, those people weren't particularly interesting and wasted a lot of air time. There were a number of references to visuals but not being able to see them wasn't a big deal. Messenger's presentation style is very informal and easy to follow. As a result, I'm torn: I thought the first few lectures were interesting, educational, and fun. But the last few lectures were the opposite. The bottom line? I'm glad I purchased the course as the first half was definitely worthwhile. Since I purchased the course at a time when it was on sale for less than half the normal sale price, I guess it all worked out!
Date published: 2015-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this course At 8 lectures it's short but sweet and you will get everything you need. Bill Messenger is truly delightful. You will not regret anything about it.
Date published: 2015-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Many Faces of Jazz I find reviewing music courses difficult,due to my inexperience in the field, so bear with me if I stumble. I like jazz, without knowing much about it. Often, it is only when it's over and someone tells me that it was jazz that I can classify it correctly. I took this course to learn to recognize it. Along the way, I gained an understanding of the history of the musical form and the sequence of styles through which it has progressed. I did gain a feeling of identification for the specific age and style I was listening to. Professor Messenger does a masterful job of presenting the history, from the beginnings of jazz in the “cake walks”of the slave era and the African roots of the polyrhythmic forms, to Herbie Hancock and George Winston. The relationships between New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop, and free jazz were all new and fascinating to me. And while I don't expect to ever jam with the big boys in a jazz improv' session, it is pleasant to have a rough idea of what is going on up there. I only realized how much I was enjoying the course when the last lesson finished, much, much too soon.
Date published: 2014-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining, Informative - but some drawbacks I enjoy Jazz, Blues and related music. But, I've always wanted some guidance on how to listen to it with a more "critical ear". This course certainly does this! I now have a much stronger appreciation for the nuisances of ragtime, early jazz, swing and more modern jazz. But, i found parts of the lectures (much like the music) a bit improvised. Given the short duration (only 6 lectures) - I would have hoped for the material to be more concise and some of the references to certain musicians or music more thoroughly explained. This course is often on "sale" for $25 or so -- and for that price, it is WELL WORTH the cost.
Date published: 2014-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Entertaining I, a beginner, listened to the course along with a life-long scholar of jazz, and we both learned things we didn't know. The lecturer has a wealth of knowledge and an obvious passion for the subject, and his voice is a pleasure to hear. As a bonus, he is a very accomplished jazz pianist, so his own performances were just as enjoyable as the recorded material he includes in each lecture. This was a great introduction to The Great Courses.
Date published: 2014-12-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Does What It Intended To The evolution of jazz is explained in an interesting way with some helpful and entertaining live demonstration. Although beyond the scope, it might have been better with an emphasis on more modern jazz....stuff you would be going to the record store to buy today...highlighting East Coast & West Coast jazz with actual excerpts and commentary on artists like Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Dave Brubeck, etc.
Date published: 2014-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A pleasure. My only complaint about this course is that it ends too soon. The instructor is affable, has an encyclopedic grasp of the subject and is a pleasure to spend time with. If he offers another course - history of the blues? - I'll buy it, whatever the subject.
Date published: 2014-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top-notch course--jazz from a jazzman I've heard many words used to describe jazz over the years, most of which I didn't even know referred to jazz. I haven't even liked jazz until recently and now I find it tolerable. But, this course is incredible, a concise walk through the history of jazz, with explanations of historical context and technical details that make each step in the evolution of jazz unique. I know a little about music, but this course would be great for people who know nothing about the technical side of music to those who are quite knowledgeable. Prof. Messenger is extremely engaging--his enthusiasm for the subject is infectious. More importantly, the class moves at a great pace, with a mixture of talk, piano "demos" of different facets of jazz, and great samples of music from jazz greats. I finished this course with both an appreciation of and excitement for jazz, but also a desire to re-listen to the course with my lady friend, who I am sure will enjoy it also.
Date published: 2014-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Knowledge, Clarity, Insight Bill Messenger covers Jazz from its roots to the present. (Realize that 'present' is a moving target!# The presentation is stepwise, unified/connected by common themes, and quite clear. There's a #hi#story in the this varying form we call jazz and Bill Messenger keeps the listener engaged through it all. Messenger loves his material, he's skilled in it, and he can present it well. If you're an afficionado, you may find some things missing, but the big things are here, and the story to go with them. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2014-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm listening to it a second time I purchased this as CDs and found myself fascinated. I learned so much. A year later I wanted to listen again but couldn't find my CDs. I wanted it so much that I purchased it again and this time downloaded it as MP3s. I'm already up to lecture 7 and know that sometime I'll go back and listen to it again. Of all of the Great Courses I've listened to, this one and the Early Middle Ages are the two best ones I've heard, IMHO. Great job Professor Bill Messenger! Wish I could listen to you in person but Baltimore is a long way from Tennessee.
Date published: 2013-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Short Survey Course This eight lecture course provides a broad overview of jazz from African plantation rhythms, ragtime, Dixieland Jazz, blues, swing, boogie, cool jazz, modal jazz, free jazz to fusion jazz. Each 45-minute lecture provides examples of each musical form. However, like most of the other music courses from The Teaching Company, access to the full musical works mentioned will add greatly to the appreciation of the topic. I enjoyed the teaching style of Professor Messenger. He was knowledgeable and had a voice and method easy to follow. The last lecture on jazz improvisation departed from the historical approach of the first seven and, for me, did not add much to the overall content. This short course highlights the need for additional individual courses on jazz greats – Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Scott Joplin, Thelonius Monk, and Charlie Parker, just to name a few.
Date published: 2013-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The most original course I love the teaching company courses, and I'm especially fond of Robert Greenberg, but this is by far the most spontaneous, unscripted, improvisational, creatively conversational TC course I've experienced to date. Messenger is not only a brilliant lecturer (and interviewer!), but a brilliant performer as well. I was thoroughly entertained and enlightened.
Date published: 2013-10-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not helpful Audio CDs poorly packaged; discs won't go back in package. Starts out reasonably well, but starts to go downhill after ragtime; includes an entire disc that is a minor aside; very weak on analysis; references to a large number of important figures but almost no examples of them performing characteristic tracks. Fails to make the material clear.
Date published: 2013-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Further Musical Education I enjoy many genres of music. In the past, I've especially admired those styles that represent a synthesis of varied influences, such as flamenco and reggae. Until I studied Professor Messenger's course about the history of jazz, I was fairly ignorant of this distinctively North American musical synthesis. I know much more about jazz now and am listening to it much more.
Date published: 2013-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Too short! I own and have listened to most of the music courses, and some seem to go on and on, but Elements of Jazz was much too brief an overview. I would appreciate a more in-depth course presented by the same instructor. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the course and have listened more than once.
Date published: 2013-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Would have loved the video I listened to this course while driving and wished that this course came in a video version. I found myself dancing in my seat while driving. Professor Messenger's ability to play, on the piano, so many types of music would have been fun to watch. He went from Ragtime to Boogie to Jazz flawlessly. His love of his field is obvious. While some of it got technical -- let's count the beats, watch the repeats -- that did not get in the way of enjoying the performances. He played many examples of the type of music he was talking about. For example -- he clearly shows the difference between Swing and other Big Band sounds (what he calls "society music"). The rhythm of the course slowed down when he interviewed performers late in the lectures. I will definitely listen to this course again -- I might even leave it in the car to play between more serious courses.
Date published: 2013-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engaging! I knew little to nothing about jazz, so this was a good introduction. Prof Messenger was engaging. His talent as a musician certainly brought pizzazz to the lectures. Although I had the CD and not the DVD, I admire his multi-faceted talent and ability to play by hear. His singing was lacking, but overall a great course and highly recommended for those who want to put their toe in the rhythms of this rippling water of musical genre.
Date published: 2013-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful and Enjoyable Course I really loved this course! The professor was so passionate and knowledgeable on the subject of jazz. An extra treat is that he is a professional jazz piano player and plays many of the different types of jazz for each lecture. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in jazz. The Ragtime lecture was so engaging, I had to listen to it twice in a row. A little note, the title is very accurate in that this course is "Elements is Jazz" and not "History of Jazz". Professor Messenger only mentions a few artists for each type of jazz rather than mentioning all of the jazz artist that are important to each type of jazz. I noticed quite a few important jazz artists are not mentioned. This does not take anything away from the course because Professor Messenger has personally worked with so many of the jazz artist in his lectures. His personal stories are well worth the cost of this course.
Date published: 2013-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from entertaining and educational This was one of the most entertaining TC courses I've taken. It is really a history course presented in a highly enjoyable fashion by an amazing piano player. You will develop a better appreciation of jazz, ragtime and blues, while listening to some excellent and at times rare performances. Professor Messenger is very knowledgable, entertaining, and has a remarkably clear presentation style. There are a few rare occasions when he refers to a picture or diagram that, given this is an audio course, are somewhat awkward, but one can easily use their imagination to fill in the gaps. I highly recommend this course. It presents a beautiful slice of American history in a very original and enjoyable style.
Date published: 2013-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! Not only is the music wonderful, but the presentation is energetic and interesting .
Date published: 2013-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As timeless as the music it portrays! I have listened to this course twice in the last four years and both times I felt I was listening to a masterpiece. This course is obviously an old one from the TGC but is as timeless as the music it portrays. Professor Messenger is an outstanding teacher. He loves music and he knows music. The course is rich not only in recorded music but also in live demonstrations. The lecturer not only exposes the intricacies of the various jazz styles but also plays them on the piano. He demonstrates rag, blues, bop, swing, free jazz, cool jazz. Each lecture is 45 min long and yet it seems that time passes by so quickly. When he lectures on the blues he actually has on studio a blues singer who demonstrates her art. In the final lecture on jazz improvisation he has a jazz singer, a bass player and a percussionist. They play, they improvise, they make you wish you were there with them. This course would have looked great on video. Overall, a great course from a wonderful teacher. Highly recommended for anyone interested in jazz and american music.
Date published: 2013-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly Enjoyable Professor Messenger delivers an excellent quick review of jazz and its offshoots. He spoke well. I enjoyed his lecture selection and his course guide. He was well organized. I particularly enjoyed several things. I enjoyed his visiting musicians/speakers who added a great deal of variety to a short course. Second, Prof. Messenger's piano playing was excellent and enjoyable. Finally, I enjoyed his sense of humor and tremendous knowledge of the material. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in learning about jazz or american culture in general.
Date published: 2012-10-09
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