Stanley Crouch-MacArthur 'genius' has been writing about jazz and jazz artists for over thirty years. His reputation for controversy is exceeded only by a universal respect for his intellect and passion. Now, in a long-awaited collection, Crouch collects fifteen of his most influential, and most controversial pieces, and includes two new essays as well. The pieces range from the introspective 'Jazz Criticism and its Effect on the Art Form' to a rollicking debate with Amiri Baraka, to vivid, intimate portraits of the legendary performers Crouch has known. The first, autobiographical essay reflects on his life in jazz as a drummer, a promoter, a critic, and most of all a lover of this quintessentially American art form. And the closing essay, about a young Italian saxophonist, expresses undaunted optimism for the worldwide vibrancy of jazz. Throughout, Crouch's work reminds us not only of why he is one of the world's most important living jazz critics, but also of why jazz itself remains, against all odds, an elemental component of our cultural identity.