Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century

Nate Chinen
Penguin £21.97
by SRB

Books of the Year 2018 – A Literary Advent Calendar

December 15, 2018 | by SRB


We’ve asked Scotland’s leading writers, booksellers, festival directors and critics to pick one, or two, books — published this year or in the past — that they most enjoyed reading in 2018. There will be new selections every day throughout December — so keep reading for great ideas about what to read next and visit your nearest high street bookshop to purchase your Christmas gifts! Today’s selection is from Stewart Smith.

In another strong year for music books, my favourite is Nate Chinen’s Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century. A generous and inspiring overview of key developments in contemporary American jazz, it offers astute critical analyses of crossover sensation Kamasi Washington and innovative guitarist Mary Halvorson, and maps the fruitful exchange between jazz, hip-hop and rock. Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is its rejection of binaries and factionalism, with Chinen discussing how avant-garde practices have revitalised the wider tradition. The result, he argues, is a music that is ‘as generative and volatile now as at any time since its beginnings.’

Stewart Smith participated in the Emerging Critics Scheme in 2017. He writes music and book reviews, features and think-pieces for The Wire, Frieze, The Quietus, The List, Conter, The Drouth, and Bandcamp Daily.

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