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Jazz Matters

Doug Ramsey
Foreword by Gene Lees

Published Date: May 1, 1989

Available in



Reflections on the Music & Some of Its Makers
336 pages

About this book

Rich in anecdote and insight, Jazz Matters is a collection of essays, profiles, and reviews by Doug Ramsey, and observer and chronicler of jazz and its musicians for more than thirty years. It stirs the reader to discover or rediscover the music and performers Ramsey describes. His accounts of recording sessions and live performances enhance this excellent review of the history, variety, and artistic depth that make jazz so profound an element in modern culture.


Jazz Matters gives the reader a basis for understanding jazz improvisation Ramsey’s sensitive, straightforward, and entertaining pieces promote appreciation of the accomplishment of artists from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.


“Ramsey too is head-over-heels in love with jazz, and this collection of his essays, profiles and reviews, culled from various publications, brilliantly conveys the intensity of the music and the voices of the musicians who make it. With intelligence, warmth and wit, Ramsey writes of the revolutionaries (from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis), the tragic geniuses who succumbed to drugs (“Even when Charlie Parker required physical support so that he could solo, his playing has an imperial, desolate beauty”) and those who are accused of selling out (“when a superior musician e.g., George Benson achieves success with watered-down material he doesn’t necessarily dilute his art, however rarely he may choose or be allowed to work at it”). Occasionally the essays meander, but on the whole, Ramsey has compiled a valuable overview of the sadly underappreciated ‘mother lode of American music.'”

Publishers Weekly


“[Jazz Matters] brings to mind hours of great conversations with old friends and memories of musicians who have now departed this planet. This book revives (in the true sense of the word) those lives.”

—Dave Brubeck


“[Ramsey] understands, he appreciates, he values excellence wherever he finds it, he cares deeply—and he is able to express his feelings with warmth, wit, and intelligence. I am an unabashed Ramsey fan.”

—Orrin Keepnews


“There is much to enjoy in Doug Ramsey’s collection of essays on jazz. His love of the music, his superior knowledge, sensitivity, and humor permeate his writing, and through this, one can better understand and appreciate jazz and the musicians who create it.”

—Marion McPartland


Doug Ramsey is a recipient of the lifetime achievement award of the Jazz Journalists Association. He lives in the Pacific Northwest, where he settled following a career in print and broadcast journalism in cities including New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio, Cleveland and Washington, DC. His writing about jazz has paralleled his life in journalism.


Visit Doug Ramsey’s blog, Rifftides, a winner of the Blog Of The Year award of the international Jazz Journalists Association.

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