Music
Books in this online selection represent only a sliver of what we offer in the store. If you've got a particular book in mind and want to check on its availability, call us at 415-362-8193.

   
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How to Listen to Jazz
Ted Gioia
In How to Listen to Jazz, award-winning music scholar Ted Gioia presents a lively, accessible introduction to the art of listening to jazz. Covering everything from the music's structure and history to the basic building blocks of improvisation, Gioia shows exactly what to listen for in a jazz performance.
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Improvisation
Its Nature and Practice in Music
Derek Bailey
Derek Bailey’s Improvisation, originally published in 1980, and here updated and extended with new interviews and photographs, is the first book to deal with the nature of improvisation in all its forms—Indian music, flamenco, baroque, organ music...
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Jazz and Cocktails
Rethinking Race and the Sound of Film Noir
Jans B. Wager
Film noir showcased hard-boiled men and dangerous femmes fatales, rain-slicked city streets, pools of inky darkness cut by shards of light, and, occasionally, jazz. Jazz served as a shorthand for the seduction and risks of the mean streets in early film noir.—Recommended by Michael
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The Jazz of Physics
The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe
Stephon Alexander
More than fifty years ago, John Coltrane drew the twelve musical notes in a circle and connected them by straight lines, forming a five-pointed star. Inspired by Einstein, Coltrane had put physics and geometry at the core of his music. Physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander returns the favor, using jazz to answer physics' most vexing...
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Jazz Poems
Ever since its first flowering, jazz has had a powerful influence on American poetry; this scintillating anthology offers a treasury of poems that are as varied and as vital as the music that inspired them.From the Harlem Renaissance to the beat...
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Kill 'Em and Leave
Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
James McBride
An unconventional, Citizen Kane-like search for an essentially unknowable man, and the results are fascinatingly oblique and as deep as the heavy funk that the Godfather committed to wax. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation
John Corbett
Improvisation rattles some listeners. Maybe they're even suspicious of it. John Coltrane's saxophonic flights of fancy, Jimi Hendrix's feedback drenched guitar solos, Ravi Shankar’s sitar extrapolations—all these sounds seem like so much noodling or jamming, indulgent self-expression. "Just" improvising, as is sometimes said.
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Lit Up Inside
Selected Lyrics
Van Morrison
Van Morrison selects his best and most iconic lyrics, spanning 50 years of writing and representing his entire creative journey. Gorgeous hardcover edition now available.
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M Train
Patti Smith
Reading this book provided a meditative type of joy, and also reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my coffee habit. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, and the Invention of Post Bop
Jeremy Yudkin
Focusing on one of the legendary trumpet players in jazz, Jeremy Yudkin's book examines Miles Davis's often overlooked music of the mid-1960s with a behind-the-scenes study of the evolution of a new, post bop style. It spotlights Davis during an...
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Mingus Speaks
John F. Goodman
A sun speaks. At times promethean, hilarious, and vexing, this is Mingus as spontaneous combustion. The music is in his words.—Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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Music in the Air
The Selected Writings of Ralph J. Gleason
Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason
The co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Ralph J. Gleason was among the most respected journalists, interviewers, and critics writing about popular music in the latter half of the twentieth century. As a longtime contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, Down Beat, and Ramparts, his expertise and insights about music, musicians...
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New Analog
Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World
Damon Krukowski
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The Nigger Factory
Gil Scott-Heron
Originally published in 1972, Gil Scott-Heron's striking second novel, The Nigger Factory, is a powerful parable of the way in which human beings are conditioned to think, drawing inspiration from Scott-Heron’s own experiences as a student...

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