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Book Review: ‘The Jazz Bug’

Author Aloke Mookerjee takes us through fascinating sociological periods of America which had consequent effects on the jazz movement

Sunil Sampat Jan 10, 2020

'The Jazz Bug' by Aloke Mookerjee.

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In a warm, unpretentious book called The Jazz Bug from a lover of the genre, Aloke Mookerjee, the author wears his heart on his sleeve and tells it all about his love affair with jazz. How he chanced upon it, how he got hooked and how that hook is “firmly embedded” in him!

Thereby hangs the tale that Mookerjee tells us. His journey into jazz might echo in the experiences of many a jazz follower in India from a certain generation which grew up in quite an isolated world of shortages at a time when imports into India of anything foreign was rare.

In that era, one heard jazz primarily on short wave radio, notably the Voice of America. It had a “Jazz Hour” hosted by the legendary announcer, Willis Conover. This show was heard worldwide and had been the link to the world of jazz for many across the globe for whom jazz was otherwise inaccessible. In his book, Mookerjee takes us, in plain language through the history of the growth of jazz. It could well serve as a handbook for a young jazz listener.

It is a well-researched book; Mookerjee takes us by the hand from way back in 1895, step by step through the small and large events that have resulted in jazz becoming the dynamic music it is today. We are taken through the fascinating sociological periods of America such as the Wall Street crash, days of prohibition, mafia dominance with consequent effects on the jazz movement. It is a book that will interest all jazz lovers.

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