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This is a perfect little book. Such a big statement for so few words. Any attempt to explain why Swing, Hard Bop, Bop & Bebop by Horace Mungin is perfect is like any other attempt to explain the ineffable. One must experience it to know it. To conceptualize it, to verbalize it, to critique it is to immediately do it a great injustice. Therefore, to review it is to mostly talk around it. With that now understood, here we go. This perfect little book is about jazz. The origins, the history, the players and their times. All the great names make their appearance here. As if the book were some little club on 52nd Street. Told by the same kind of disembodied witness who narrates perfect little films about the past. Like Morgan Freeman, maybe.

This perfect little book is jazz. That must be understood, too. Not some academic treatise, dry and categorical, Swing, Hard Bop, Bop & Bebop is Horace Mungin’s poetic prose paean to a music, to an era, to an irretrievable memory of past time. Except that Mr. Mungin does retrieve a piece of time. He does it with the perfect rhythm of his words. He does it with the incredible trove of information on which he draws. Mostly, though, he does it by infusing his work with the mystery of the ineffable. And in the presence of such mystery, one must remain silently appreciative and receptive. When he does, the music of his words gets infused into the blood. No, this perfect little book does not lend itself to critical review. It must instead be read.


Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite


  • The bebop era was a period in time where African descendants took European musical instruments and bent them to their well so that these European instruments told the story of African Americans in a uniquely African American voice. In Swing, Hard Bop, Bop & Bebop you will find the musical history of over 60 of the greatest jazz artists of swing and bebop music ever assembled. Here you'll find delicate facts about the lives of these great men and women of jazz; where and when they were born, where they went to school, how they got started playing an instrument or singing, the trials and tribulations of their lives - but more - tributes are also paid to the venues and clubs where bebop was featured; places like Minton's Playhouse where Thelonious Monk was in the house band and where bebop was invented, Birdland, named for Charlie (YardBird) Parker, one of the creators of bebop, and even the Jazz Mobile that brought popular jazz bands to New York City's jazz fans in Harlem free of charge.

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