Music, Reviews

Review: Gennari, Blowin’ Hot and Cool

jacket image
A review of John Gennari’s Blowin’ Hot and Cool in this month’s issue of The Wire commends the book, calling Gennari’s in-depth look at the history of jazz criticism “superb,” “nuanced,” and “insightful.” The review focuses on Gennari’s penetrating argument that jazz criticism has not only played an essential role in documenting the jazz tradition but, to a large extent, has been responsible for creating that tradition. Yet most interesting about The Wire review is its acknowledgment of Gennari’s work as his own addendum to that tradition— his attempt to “write his academic self” into the “problematic history” of jazz criticism which he describes. If The Wire article is any indication, Gennari’s work will continue to make an impact in circles beyond the walls of the academy. From The Wire:

[Gennari] focuses on what he calls jazz’s “superstructure”—its critics essentially, but also some of its businessmen—to analyze what a much related story says, or almost says, about about racial and cultural politics in the American 20th century.… An account of Leonard Feather’s 1935 encounter with John Hammond sets up key themes of distance, engagement, and responsibility. Gennari has the pair at the Savoy in Harlem to hear Teddy Hill, pushing past the dancers to stand, concentrating and motionless, in the front of the stage. [This] image of the critics, part of yet seperate from the crowd, advertising their own aesthetic perogative, recurs throughout the book.…

Read an excerpt from the book. Gennari has also outlined a soundtrack for the book.