From its very beginnings, the nature of jazz has been to reinvent itself. As the musical genre evolved from its roots - blues, European music, Voodoo ceremonies, and brass bands that played at funerals, parades and celebrations - the sound reflected the tenor of the times, from the citified strains of the Roaring '20s to the Big Band swing of pre - World War II to the bop revolution that grew out of the minimalist sound the war forced upon the art form. That the music continued to develop and evolve is a tribute to the power and creativity of its musicians. Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Diana Krall, Archie Shepp, Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Larry Coryell, and Kenny Kirkland are just some of the jazz greats profiled here. The five major periods of jazz - the bop revolution, hard bop and cool jazz, the avant-garde, fusion, and contemporary - form the basis for the sections in this reference work, with a brief history of each period provided. The artists who were integral to the evolution of each period are then profiled.
Each biographical entry focuses on the artist's life and his or her influence on jazz and on music as a whole. A complete discography for each musician is also provided.