Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
The Journal of Jazz Studies (JJS) was formerly Scarecrow Press’ print journal, Annual Review of Jazz Studies (0731-0641), which ceased in 2010. Published on the Open Journal Systems platform, this new, open-access, peer reviewed online journal comes from the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. It’s meant for both jazz fans and scholars, providing a forum for jazz studies ranging from cultural interpretations to oral histories, technical analyses, and bibliographies. Issues usually contain Articles and Book Reviews, and may also offer Review Essays, Bibliographies, Poetry, and Photography (although the latter two categories of material have been absent since Volume 7, Number 2 of this new series).
True to its aims, JJS offers content that is both popular and scholarly. For example, one recent article assesses claims of exploitation leveled against mid-twentieth-century Jewish record company owners; another describes “a unique artifact” known as the “Jazz Door” at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis, revealing jazz’s reception in the early 1930s, which “views the Jazz Door not only as a record of jazz criticism, but seeks to place the Door within the larger contexts of society and commerce at the height of the Depression,” while another article (“Was Bix Beiderbecke Poisoned by the Federal Government?”) “explores the government's strategy to eradicate alchohol consumption in the United States by adding poisonous compounds to render it undrinkable and how these efforts affected Bix Beiderbecke, perhaps precipitating his physical decline and early death.” Then there’s the Review Essay, “Skin Deep: Race, Bias, and Fallacy in Terry Teachout’s Ellington Biography,” written by Stephen James, Duke Ellington’s nephew, which questions the “factuality, bias, and agenda” of critic Terry Teachout’s widely acclaimed biography, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. In-depth book reviews written by jazz experts and scholars add much to the content to be found here; for example, a wonderful, footnoted review of Thomas Brothers’ Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism, is done by Ricky Riccardi, Archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years (Riccardi runs the online blog, "The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong"). In addition to all this, several excellent Jazz Research Bibliographies for “scholarly articles about jazz music that appeared in journals not specifically dedicated to jazz study” are included periodically to help researchers keep abreast of scholarship in the field.
Reviewing this title was a real treat for this novice admirer of jazz; I can only imagine what a wonderful resource it undoubtedy is for enthusiasts and devotees. Resoundingly recommended to libraries serving jazz lovers and researchers; this is a “must recommend” title.