Why Jazz? is a Q&A handbook for novice listeners, a concise history of jazz's major figures and trends, and a plain-English guide to many musical techniques. As in his jazz reviews for NPR's Fresh Air, Whitehead packs a lot of information into compact, accessible prose.
Kevin Whitehead is the longtime jazz critic for National Public Radio's Fresh Air and has written about jazz for many publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Down Beat, and the Village Voice. He is the author of New Dutch Swing (1998), and his essays have appeared in such collections as Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006, Jazz: The First Century, and The Cartoon Music Book.