A note from the author:
I am delighted that JAZZ IS will continue to live in this Limelight Edition because, of all the books on jazz I've worked on, this one has brought the most personal responses. In the mail, on the street, in jazz clubs.
What I wanted to do was tell something of who these musicians were and are - the lives that became their music. I wanted to remove the barriers to enjoyment of the music that some people seem to have when they think about jazz, before they really hear it. I mean their sense that the music is too "difficult" or "complex" for a non-musician. I had heard this for years, and my usual response was: "Just listen. Just listen to the feeling. Listen to the stories each of them is telling, the stories about their lives."
Then I figured that if I could write a book about some of those lives, some of those powerful emotions, readers would see that they don't have to know anything about chords or time signatures to feel Billie Holiday or Charles Mingus speaking directly to them of the memories and desires that link us all.
And a good many folks have told me that they discovered, partly because of this book, that there is more of themselves, of their own lives, in jazz than they had expected. And others, long since on intimate terms with jazz, said they found here a convivial way of renewing their first loves.
For myself, this is certainly my most personal book on the music, and I hope it may now bring more of you into the deep song of jazz.