Seize the Beat

The Evolution of American Music


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SKU: 9781476690773 Categories: ,

About the Book

The story of American popular music is steeped in social history, race, gender and class, its evolution driven by ephemeral connection to young audiences. From Benny Goodman to Sinatra to Elvis Presley to the Beatles, pop icons age out of the art form while new musical styles pass from relevance to nostalgia within a few years. At the same time, perennial forms like blues, jazz and folk are continually rediscovered by new audiences.
This book traces the development of American music from its African roots to the juke joint, club and concert hall, revealing a culture perpetually reinventing itself to suit the next generation.

About the Author(s)

Brian Q. Torff is a bassist, composer, arranger, and a professor of music at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

Brian Q. Torff
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 26 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9077-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4857-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Prologue: Music for a Pandemic 3
1. How We Listen 15
2. Listen Up, Africa! 34
3. Framing a Jazz and Blues Century 50
4. The South, Elvis, and the Dawning of Rock and Roll 65
5. Say It Loud: Black Music in the 1960s 81
6. Bob Dylan and the American Voice 98
7. Beatles, Stones, and Cultural Amnesia 111
8. Pistols at Dawn: Janis, Jim, and Jimi 131
9. Rebels: The Authentic Lives of Women in Music 152
10. No Time to Get Cute in the ’70s 169
11. ­Post-Authentic World: Your CEO Rock Star 187
12. The Music and Art Spirit 192
Epilogue 199
Chapter Notes 201
Bibliography 211
Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Brian Q. Torff brings the rhythm of his bass to his writing and offers valuable lessons in how to listen to music and appreciate what you hear on multiple levels.”—Marc Myers,

• “Brian Q. Torff has been a master of the beat for many years, collaborating with some of the greatest masters of American music. He now shares what he has learned in this insightful book. I highly recommend it.”—Ted Gioia, author, The History of Jazz and Music: A Subversive History

• “It’s impossible to imagine America without Black culture and Black music. Brian does a great job of telling the story of how Black music and America are intertwined.”—Touré, author of Nothing Compares 2 U: An Oral History of Prince

• “A detailed historical account…a labor of love… a versatile teaching tool”—Fairfield News