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From 1955-65 the historian Eric Hobsbawm took the pseudonym ‘Francis Newton’ and wrote a monthly column for the New Statesman on jazz – music he had loved ever since discovering it as a boy in 1933 (‘the year Adolf Hitler took power in Germany’). Hobsbawm’s column led to his writing a critical history, The Jazz Scene (1959). This enhanced edition from 1993 adds later writings by Hobsbawm in which he meditates further ‘on why jazz is not only a marvellous noise but a central concern for anyone concerned with twentieth-century society and the twentieth-century arts.’
‘All the greats are covered in passing (Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday), while further space is given to Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, and Sidney Bechet … Perhaps Hobsbawm’s tastiest comments are about the business side and work ethics, where his historian’s eye strips the jazz scene down to its commercial spine.’ Kirkus Reviews
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