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Bill Irwin & “A Light History of Piano Jazz”

The NLS Music Section has recently acquired another new title by popular and prolific contributor, Bill Irwin. Patrons of the Music Section, and followers of this blog, may already be aware of Mr. Irwin’s background. If you wish to read more about Bill Irwin, please check out our blog post from June of last year, which talks about his background and how he got involved making books for the NLS Music Section.

Our most recent acquisition from Mr. Irwin centers around a topic near and dear to his heart: piano jazz. Not only does
A Light History of Piano Jazz and a Short History of the Piano (DBM 03681) cover this topic, but it also goes into a detailed history of the piano itself. Mr. Irwin had spent much of the past few years, researching, compiling and organizing this information into a massive 56 hour-long audiobook for our collection. The book is broken up into three main sections:

Part I

Discusses the history of the piano, and other topics as related to music, such as memory, improvisation, and music’s healing powers.

Part II

Discusses the history of jazz, and how jazz has evolved into its current form. Mr. Irwin explains and gives examples of syncopation, typical blues progressions, and other jazz-specific musical gestures. Also included is a conversation on the publishing industry and how jazz musicians make a living off of their music.

Part III

This is the longest and most audio-centric portion of the Talking Book. In this section, Mr. Irwin plays hundreds of recordings of jazz pianists, and other notable jazz performers, to give examples about what he had been talking about in the first two sections.

For anyone who is interested in piano jazz–whether a novice, professional, or simply a music supporter–Bill Irwin’s
Light History of Piano Jazz and a Short History of the Piano is an interesting, fun, and informative book about the topic.

Mr. Irwin has contributed over 15 other titles to the NLS music collection. Below are some of his other titles, in case you wish to explore his books a bit more. These books are available in digital audio or braille for patrons of NLS (linked books are available on BARD — NLS’s Braille and Audio Reading Download program):

Digital Talking Books:

Braille Books:

If you would like to check out any of Mr. Irwin’s titles, or any other titles about jazz, please contact the NLS Music Section!

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