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Jazz history in iTunes U

I’ve been using the iTunes Music Store pretty much since the day it launched, but I’ve never really spent any time poking around iTunes U, the section of the store devoted to podcasts, videotaped lectures, and other content from universities, museums, and similar institutions. Participants include the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, the University of California at Berkeley, and Duke University.

Much of the available iTunes U content consists of artlessly filmed lectures and presentations, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff scattered throughout. For example, Berkeley’s Journalism and Media section (iTunes link) includes audiotaped talks by Seymour Hersh, Helen Thomas, and Michael Pollan. MIT’s Public Policy section includes a recent videotaped interview with John Barry (iTunes link), the author of The Great Influenza, a book about the devastating worldwide flu pandemic of 1918 — a subject that’s scarily relevant to this week’s headlines.

My favorite current offering from iTunes U is a series of jazz-history podcasts by Gordon Vernick (iTunes link), a music professor at Georgia StateUniversity. The first track is devoted to 1959, a crucial jazz year that saw the release of Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, among other seminalalbums.

Here’s a guided video tour of iTunes U on Apple’s website.