Tex Wyndham hosts an educational retreat on Jekyll Island in Georgia several times a year. He provides attendees with a reading list that cuts through the thousands of books on jazz to find the ones truly worth your time.
THE WORLD OF RAGTIME, EARLY TIN PAN ALLEY AND DIXIELAND JAZZ
Tex Wyndham’s Suggestions for Supplemental Reading.
For those who want to explore this subject further, I should warn you that many of the books dealing with this field are worse than useless – filled with inaccuracies, unsupported opinions, and outdated information. I have not come close to reading all of them, but I have read the ones listed below and consider them useful as well as entertaining. I have indicated with “*” those volumes which use a significant number of musical illustrations that would not be understood by someone who cannot read music.
If your local library does not have the title you want, I would try Amazon.com or one of the larger internet dealers in used books.
[Ed. Note: Those items marked with an “*” are also identified by Tex as being about the music itself rather than being popular histories about the life and times of artists. He discusses that distinction, and all but one of the asterisked books, in Texas Shout #14. In Texas Shout #25 he discusses the most notable popular histories that had appeared at the time of the column.]
Texas Shout: How Dixieland Jazz Works, by Tex Wyndham.
*Jazz: A History, by Frank Tirro. This volume covers all styles of jazz.
*Early Jazz, by Gunther Schuller
*The Swing Era, by Gunther Schuller
*Ragtime: A Musical And Cultural History, by Edward A. Berlin
*American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950, by Alec Wilder
*Lost Chords: White Musicians And Their Contribution To Jazz, 1915-1945, by Richard M. Sudhalter
They All Played Ragtime, by Rudi Blesh and Harriet Janis
Mr. Jelly Roll, by Alan Lomax
We Called It Music, by Eddie Condon and Thomas Sugrue
Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya, edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff
Bix: Man And Legend, By Richard Sudhalter, with Philip Evans
In Search of Buddy Bolden, First Man Of Jazz, by Don Marquis
Music On My Mind, by Willie “The Lion” Smith
A Left Hand Like God, by Peter Silvester. This volume deals exclusively with boogie-woogie piano.
Louis Armstrong: An American Genius, by James Lincoln Collier
Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, by Lawrence Bergreen
Sidney Bechet, Wizard Of Jazz, by John Chilton
Jazz Masters Of The 20’s, by Richard Hadlock
Jazz Singing, by Will Friedwald
King Of Ragtime: Scott Joplin And His Era, by Edward A. Berlin
That American Rag: The Story Of Ragtime From Coast To Coast, by David A. Jasen and Gene Jones
Jelly Roll, Bix And Hoagy, Revised And Expanded Edition: Gennett Records And The Rise Of America’s Musical Grassroots, by Rick Kennedy
Pioneers Of Jazz: The Story Of The Creole Band, by Lawrence Gushee
They All Sang: From Tony Pastor To Rudy Vallee, by Edward B. Marks
I Feel A Song Coming On: The Life Of Jimmy McHugh, by Alyn Shipton
Lost Sounds: Blacks And The Birth Of The Recording Industry, 1890-1919, by Tim Brooks. This fascinating volume does not deal exclusively with ragtime and jazz. It tells the story of every black person who made a commercial recording prior to Mamie Smith’s breakthrough 1920 recording of “Crazy Blues”.