Mailing List

Devil Sent the Rain

Click here to read about this book at Amazon.com

Devil Sent The Rain: Music and Writing in Desparate America
Harper Perennial, August 2011

“Tom Piazza’s writing is filled with energy, and with tender, insightful words for the brilliant and irascible, from Jimmy Martin to Norman Mailer. Time and time again, Piazza identifies the unlikely, precious connections between recent events, art, letters, and music; through his words, these byways of popular culture provide an unexpected measure of the times.” —Elvis Costello

Tom Piazza’s sharp intelligence, insight, and passion fuel this new collection of writings on music, literature, New Orleans, and America itself in desperate times.

Click here for more info and reviews

City of Refuge
Click here to read about this book at Amazon.com

City of Refuge
HarperCollins

City of Refuge is a panoramic novel of two New Orleans families whose lives are torn apart by Hurricane Katrina and then stitched back together. Richard Russo, the Pulitzer prize winning author of Empire Falls, wrote, “To read City of Refuge is to realize that this is what fiction is for: to take us to places the cameras can't go.  The novel's characters--and what happens to them--are unforgettable.” For more advance quotes from Richard Ford, Mary Gaitskill, Douglas Brinkley and others, go here. For dates and locations on the fall book tour, go here.

Click here for more info and reviews

Why New Orleans Matters
Click here to read about this book at Amazon.com

Why New Orleans Matters
HarperCollins

In Why New Orleans Matters, award-winning author and New Orleans resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and uncertain future of this great and most neglected of American cities. With wisdom and affection, he explores the hidden contours of familiar traditions like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, and evokes the sensory rapture of the city that gave us jazz music and Creole cooking. He writes, too, of the city's deep undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice, and of how its people endure and transcend those conditions. And, perhaps most important, he asks us all to consider the spirit of this place and all the things it has shared with the world -- grace and beauty, resilience and soul. "That spirit is in terrible jeopardy right now," he writes. "If it dies, something precious and profound will go out of the world forever."

Click here for more info and reviews

Understanding Jazz : Ways to Listen
Click here to read about this book at Amazon.com

Understanding Jazz: Ways To Listen
Random House

Much more than just another history of this vital music and those who play it, Understanding Jazz is a multimedia master class and late-night jam session rolled into one–an indispensable guide to a deeper appreciation of jazz.

Jazz is America’s greatest indigenous art form, a musical hybrid whose origins are as mysterious, complex, and surprising as its evolution has proved to be. Written by Grammy award-winning author Tom Piazza and produced by the experts at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Understanding Jazz uses simple explanations and analogies to illuminate the basics of listening to a jazz performance: how to discern form, instrumentation, style, and intent.

Click here for more info and reviews

My Cold War
Click here to read about this book at Amazon.com

My Cold War
HarperCollins

John Delano is in trouble. A well-known professor of Cold War Studies at a small New England college, he has made his career purveying what others call "History McNuggets" - gimmicky, easily digestible glimpses of our collective past. But as he struggles with his magnum opus--a major new book on the "surfaces" of the Cold War era--Delano's life begins to fall apart. The death of his troubled father, the unraveling of his marriage, and his estrangement from his younger brother conspire to set him on a collision course with his own past. In a series of dazzlingly rendered and escalating encounters, he revisits the treeless vistas of 1950s suburbia, the streets of Dallas and the JFK assassination, the Summer of Love, and other landmark moments, and finally travels into the heartland to reconnect with the brother he has left behind. What he finds there, and what he makes of it, form this novel's poignant climax.

Click here for more info and reviews

True Adventures With The King of Bluegrass
Vanderbilt University Press

An expanded version of Tom's classic portrait of bluegrass legend and wild man Jimmy Martin, which originally appeared in the Oxford American's first music issue in 1997. In reviewing that issue, the Nashville Scene called True Adventures, "Fear and Loathing in Opryland... a jaw-dropping encounter between Martin and writer Tom Piazza that proves just how dull most other country-music reporting is." Tom has written a new afterword for the book version, as well as an essay on Martin's recordings. The book also includes a number of new and rare photos, as well as a wild foreword by country music star Marty Stuart. "Time spent with the King of Bluegrass is not for the lily-livered or the faint of heart," Stuart says. That's no lie; read Tom's book and find out why.

Blues and Trouble : Twelve Stories
St. Martin's Press; November 1997

Tom Piazza's short story collection Blues and Trouble, for which he won a James Michener Award. Set in Memphis, Florida, New York, New Orleans, and elsewhere, these twelve stories echo voices from Ernest Hemingway to Robert Johnson to Jimmie Rodgers in their powerful imagery and keen eye for the truth. A tough and haunting vision of a land where the social, emotional, and spiritual ground shifts constantly underfoot, Blues and Trouble is a work of both masterful craft and raw, rare, beauty.

Click here for more info and reviews . . .

Blues Up And Down : Jazz In Our Time
St. Martin's Press; January 1999

In these pages Tom Piazza, the award-winning author of The Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz, chronicles two decades of upheaval in the jazz world - and presents a persuasive vision of the music's continuing role in our culture. A tour-de-force mixture of reportage, criticism, and essay, Blues Up and Down confronts the central questions facing the music today: Is there a conflict between innovation and tradition? Is there such a thing as "progress" in the arts? And what are the stakes in the debate - for musicians, for critics, and for listeners? His answers are provocative and original, and his survey of the music, coming at a crucial time in its history, is fresh and exhilarating on every page.

Click here for more info and reviews . . .

The Guide to Cassic Recorded Jazz
Winner of ASCAP
Deems Taylor Award
for Music Writing
Click here to read about this book at Amazon.com

The Guide To Classic Recorded Jazz
University of Iowa Press; March 1995

Arguments about what qualifies as jazz (let alone classic jazz) will rage well into the next millennium. Tom Piazza has floated his own definition--which is partly chronological and partly based on a few stylistic litmus tests--and then used it to shape this intelligent and individual guide. Considering both ensembles and soloists, he covers about 800 recordings, most of them made between 1920 and 1970. Although the heft of his book qualifies it as a reference work, Piazza never pretends to encyclopedic neutrality. On the contrary, he's a fiery advocate of the recordings he loves, and a chiding critic of those he doesn't. --Amazon.com

Click here for more info and reviews . . .

Setting the Tempo :
Fifty Years of Great Jazz Liner Notes

Anchor; September 1996

Many jazz fans first learned about the music not only from listening, but from reading the notes on the backs of records. In "Setting the Tempo," Tom Piazza collects 50 liner notes, dating from 1940 to 1986. Here are such writers as Stanley Crouch (on pianist Thelonius Monk and saxophonist Booker Ervin); Amiri Baraka (on singer Billie Holliday and saxophonist John Coltrane); and Whitney Balliet (on singer Joe Turner and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan). This is writing that informs, often placing the artist in a historical context, as much as it energizes bringing to our attention nuances in the music that often make us hear it afresh. -- Black Studies Editor's Recommended Book

Click here for more info and reviews . . .

By & About Mailing List