Matt Brennan

When Genres Collide: Down Beat, Rolling Stone, and the Struggle Between Jazz and Rock

Published by Bloomsbury

Jun 02, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

With When Genres Collide, Matt Brennan takes a critical look at the interaction between jazz and rock music from the birth of rock and roll through rock's blooming 1960s. Integral to the relationship between these two genres is how they were written about, and Brennan's text largely focuses on these dynamics, highlighted by the two major publications devoted to them-Down Beat and Rolling Stone magazines.

Down Beat took its jazz seriously, and Brennan's text explores how it struggled with coming to terms with rock and roll's insurgence, expanding its coverage to include the new genre that was taking over the listening habits of America's youth. Conversely, Rolling Stone set itself apart upon its inception by creating an outlet for journalism sparked by and devoted to rock and roll, largely avoiding jazz's old guard.

When Genres Collide is most interesting in the way it explains and discusses how the journalistic coverage of each genre tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to incorporate the other. The push and pull to decide what each felt was worthy of praise from the genre competing for listeners' ears highlights the stark difference in the way jazz and rock were both perceived and covered. The intersection of the two genres is also framed in the diverse bill of the Newport Jazz Festival of 1969, but it proved an uneasy coupling at best. With When Genres Collide, Brennan unmasks the history, and while it often seems like little common ground was found, it's enlightening to read about how each side tried. (

Author rating: 7/10

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