This collective biography of four jazz musicians from Brooklyn, Ghana, and South Africa demonstrates how modern Africa reshaped jazz, how modern jazz helped form a new African identity, and how musical convergences and crossings altered the politics and culture of both continents.
African Rhythms is the autobiography of the important jazz pianist, composer and band leader Randy Weston. He tells of his childhood in Brooklyn, his six decades long musical career, his time living in Morocco, and his lifelong quest to learn about the musical and cultural traditions of Africa.
Avant-Garde Jazz Musicians focuses on performers whose out styles, by definition, transcend traditional boundaries of jazz and most Western forms of music; some of these performers are well known, such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Cecil Taylor, and others are not, including Daniel Carter, Billy Bang, and Jemeel Moondoc. David Such uses an interdisciplinary approach, ranging from philosophy to ethnomusicology to psychobiology, to examine how both cultural and personal factors have influenced the out musicians and their music and what the music symbolizes to listeners and to the musicians themselves.
Such strikes a balance between out music itself and the cultural domain as he explores the social contexts and economic pressures that affect out musical performance. Using material from extensive personal interviews, Such evaluates the impact of civil rights, postindustrialization, and urbanization on the beliefs and attitudes of out musicians.
By performing with many of the out musicians he interviews, Such is able to examine out music and the worldviews of out musicians in a uniquely comprehensive manner and to resolve some of the more controversial issues surrounding out jazz. In the process, he makes out music more understandable to jazz fans and scholars alike and clarifies its role in the overall development of jazz.
When Charles Quinlan, an academic obsessed with jazz, starts exploring the life and death of Jackson Payne, a fictional tenor-sax player, he can't imagine where his research will lead. Told in a series of dazzling riffs by everyone from Payne's lovers to his fellow musicians, The Best of Jackson Payne is a novel that swings unlike any other.
Saxophone virtuoso Charlie "Bird" Parker began playing professionally in his early teens, became a heroin addict at 16, changed the course of music, and then died when only 34 years old. His friend Robert Reisner observed, "Parker, in the brief span of his life, crowded more living into it than any other human being." Like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, he was a transitional composer and improviser who ushered in a new era of jazz by pioneering bebop and influenced subsequent generations of musicians.
Meticulously researched and written, Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker tells the story of his life, music, and career. This new biography artfully weaves together firsthand accounts from those who knew him with new information about his life and career to create a compelling narrative portrait of a tragic genius.
While other books about Parker have focused primarily on his music and recordings, this portrait reveals the troubled man behind the music, illustrating how his addictions and struggles with mental health affected his life and career. He was alternatively generous and miserly; a loving husband and father at home but an incorrigible philanderer on the road; and a chronic addict who lectured younger musicians about the dangers of drugs. Above all he was a musician, who overcame humiliation, disappointment, and a life-threatening car wreck to take wing as Bird, a brilliant improviser and composer.
With in-depth research into previously overlooked sources and illustrated with several never-before-seen images, Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker corrects much of the misinformation and myth about one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century.
Miles Davis, supremely cool behind his shades. Billie Holiday, eyes closed and head tilted back in full cry. John Coltrane, one hand behind his neck and a finger held pensively to his lips. These iconic images have captivated jazz fans nearly as much as the music has. Jazz photographs are visual landmarks in American history, acting as both a reflection and a vital part of African American culture in a time of immense upheaval, conflict, and celebration. Charting the development of jazz photography from the swing era of the 1930s to the rise of black nationalism in the ’60s, Blue Notes in Black and White is the first of its kind: a fascinating account of the partnership between two of the twentieth century’s most innovative art forms.
Benjamin Cawthra introduces us to the great jazz photographers—including Gjon Mili, William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Francis Wolff, Roy DeCarava, and William Claxton—and their struggles, hustles, styles, and creative visions. We also meet their legendary subjects, such as Duke Ellington, sweating through a late-night jam session for the troops during World War II, and Dizzy Gillespie, stylish in beret, glasses, and goatee. Cawthra shows us the connections between the photographers, art directors, editors, and record producers who crafted a look for jazz that would sell magazines and albums. And on the other side of the lens, he explores how the musicians shaped their public images to further their own financial and political goals.
This mixture of art, commerce, and racial politics resulted in a rich visual legacy that is vividly on display in Blue Notes in Black and White. Beyond illuminating the aesthetic power of these images, Cawthra ultimately shows how jazz and its imagery served a crucial function in the struggle for civil rights, making African Americans proudly, powerfully visible.
A member of Muddy Waters' legendary late 1940s-1950s band, Jimmy Rogers pioneered a blues guitar style that made him one of the most revered sidemen of all time. Rogers also had a significant if star-crossed career as a singer and solo artist for Chess Records, releasing the classic singles "That's All Right" and "Walking By Myself."
In Blues All Day Long, Wayne Everett Goins mines seventy-five hours of interviews with Rogers' family, collaborators, and peers to follow a life spent in the blues. Goins' account takes Rogers from recording Chess classics and barnstorming across the South to a late-in-life renaissance that included new music, entry into the Blues Hall of Fame, and high profile tours with Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. Informed and definitive, Blues All Day Long fills a gap in twentieth century music history with the story of one of the blues' eminent figures and one of the genre's seminal bands.
Amy C. Beal University of Illinois Press, 2011 Library of Congress ML410.B643B43 2011 | Dewey Decimal 781.65092
This is the first comprehensive treatment of the remarkable music and influence of Carla Bley, a highly innovative American jazz composer, pianist, organist, band leader, and activist. With fastidious attention to Bley's diverse compositions over the last fifty years spanning critical moments in jazz and experimental music history, Amy C. Beal tenders a long-overdue representation of a major figure in American music.
Best known for her jazz opera "Escalator over the Hill," her role in the Free Jazz movement of the 1960s, and her collaborations with artists such as Jack Bruce, Don Cherry, Robert Wyatt, and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Bley has successfully maneuvered the field of jazz from highly accessible, tradition-based contexts to commercially unviable, avant-garde works. Beal details the staggering variety in Bley's work as well as her use of parody, quotations, and contradictions, examining the vocabulary Bley has developed throughout her career and highlighting the compositional and cultural significance of her experimentalism.
Beal also points to Bley's professional and managerial work as a pioneer in the development of artist-owned record labels, the cofounder and manager of WATT Records, and the cofounder of New Music Distribution Service. Showing her to be not just an artist but an activist who has maintained musical independence and professional control amid the profit-driven, corporation-dominated world of commercial jazz, Beal's straightforward discussion of Bley's life and career will stimulate deeper examinations of her work.
Dameronia is the first authoritative biography of Tadd Dameron, an important and widely influential figure in jazz history as one of the most significant composers and arrangers of jazz, swing, bebop, and big band. He arranged for names like Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, and Dizzy Gillespie and played with Bull Moose Jackson and Benny Golson. This book sets out to clarify Dameron's place in the development of jazz in the post–World War II era. It also attempts to shed light on the tragedy of his retreat from the center of jazz activity in the 1950s. By tracing Dameron's career, one finds that until 1958, when he was incarcerated for drug related offenses, he was at the forefront of developments in jazz, sometimes anticipating trends that would not develop fully for several years. Dameron was also an important influence on several high-profile musicians, including Miles Davis, Benny Golson, and Frank Foster. Dameron was a very private man, and while in some aspects of his life he will probably remain an enigma, this book manages to give an intimate portrait of his life at a couple of key stages: the height of his career in 1949 and the brief but productive period between his release from prison and his death.
One of the most individual stylists of his time, trumpeter Lee Morgan began his professional career in Philadelphia at age fifteen. At eighteen, after a short stint with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Morgan joined Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra, where he stayed until the group disbanded in 1958. A return to Blakey brought Morgan new opportunities, including his first successful attempts at composition. But however much his time with Blakey helped to advance his playing and writing, his boss's and his bandmates' destructive drug habits exerted just as strong an influence. Within three years, Morgan would be back home in Philadelphia, strung out on heroin and penniless.
Morgan's return to music in the early to mid-sixties witnessed a tremendous evolution in his playing. Formerly a virtuoso in the model of his idol, Clifford Brown, Morgan brought to his critically acclaimed Blue Note records of the era an emotionally charged, muscular tone, full of poise and control. But it was with the record Sidewinder, recorded in 1963, that Morgan found his greatest fame and commercial success, due to the infectious groove of the title tune. By the time of his death, at thirty-three---murdered in a New York City club by his girlfriend during a gig---Morgan had begun a new phase of his career, experimenting with freer-forms of musical expression.
Jeff McMillan's Delightfulee is the first biography to seriously examine Morgan's vast contributions to jazz, both as a performer and as a composer. Thanks to exclusive access to Lee Morgan's now-deceased brother, McMillan is also able to provide unparalleled insight into Morgan's personal and family life
Jeff McMillan received his master's degree from the Jazz History and Research program at Rutgers-Newark in 2000 and currently works as an archivist for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Lilian Terry has lived music. As a performer, she has shared the stage with Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. She cofounded the European Jazz Federation and pioneered jazz education in Italy. Her work as a director-producer of radio and television programs have spread the music by introducing countless people to its legendary performers. Drawing on Terry's long friendships and professional associations, Dizzy, Duke, Brother Ray, and Friends offers readers a rare opportunity to hear intimate conversations with some of the world's greatest musical figures. Dizzy Gillespie offers his thoughts on playing with œsanctified rhythm and the all-important personal touch in performance. Duke Ellington discourses on jazz history and concludes an interview to sing a self-written ditty in Italian. Ray Charles gives candid thoughts on race and politics while taking charge of Terry's tape recorder. Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Bill Evans ”all provide Terry and her readers with unforgettable encounters. The result is a collection of profiles, some stretching over a decade or more, that reveal these performers in ways that illuminates their humanity and expands our appreciation of their art.
Every night, somewhere in the world, three or four musicians will climb on stage together. Whether the gig is at a jazz club, a bar, or a bar mitzvah, the performance never begins with a note, but with a question. The trumpet player might turn to the bassist and ask, “Do you know ‘Body and Soul’?”—and from there the subtle craft of playing the jazz repertoire is tested in front of a live audience. These ordinary musicians may never have played together—they may never have met—so how do they smoothly put on a show without getting booed offstage.
In “Do You Know . . . ?” Robert R. Faulkner and Howard S. Becker—both jazz musicians with decades of experience performing—present the view from the bandstand, revealing the array of skills necessary for working musicians to do their jobs. While learning songs from sheet music or by ear helps, the jobbing musician’s lexicon is dauntingly massive: hundreds of thousands of tunes from jazz classics and pop standards to more exotic fare. Since it is impossible for anyone to memorize all of these songs, Faulkner and Becker show that musicians collectively negotiate and improvise their way to a successful performance. Players must explore each others’ areas of expertise, develop an ability to fake their way through unfamiliar territory, and respond to the unpredictable demands of their audience—whether an unexpected gang of polka fanatics or a tipsy father of the bride with an obscure favorite song.
“Do You Know . . . ?” dishes out entertaining stories and sharp insights drawn from the authors’ own experiences and observations as well as interviews with a range of musicians. Faulkner and Becker’s vivid, detailed portrait of the musician at work holds valuable lessons for anyone who has to think on the spot or under a spotlight.
Autobiography of jazz elder statesman Frank “Doc” Adams, highlighting his role in Birmingham, Alabama’s, historic jazz scene and tracing his personal adventure that parallels, in many ways, the story and spirit of jazz itself.
Doc tells the story of an accomplished jazz master, from his musical apprenticeship under John T. “Fess” Whatley and his time touring with Sun Ra and Duke Ellington to his own inspiring work as an educator and bandleader.
Central to this narrative is the often-overlooked story of Birmingham’s unique jazz tradition and community. From the very beginnings of jazz, Birmingham was home to an active network of jazz practitioners and a remarkable system of jazz apprenticeship rooted in the city’s segregated schools. Birmingham musicians spread across the country to populate the sidelines of the nation’s bestknown bands. Local musicians, like Erskine Hawkins and members of his celebrated orchestra, returned home heroes. Frank “Doc” Adams explores, through first-hand experience, the history of this community, introducing readers to a large and colorful cast of characters—including “Fess” Whatley, the legendary “maker of musicians” who trained legions of Birmingham players and made a significant mark on the larger history of jazz. Adams’s interactions with the young Sun Ra, meanwhile, reveal life-changing lessons from one of American music’s most innovative personalities.
Along the way, Adams reflects on his notable family, including his father, Oscar, editor of the Birmingham Reporter and an outspoken civic leader in the African American community, and Adams’s brother, Oscar Jr., who would become Alabama’s first black supreme court justice. Adams’s story offers a valuable window into the world of Birmingham’s black middle class in the days before the civil rights movement and integration. Throughout, Adams demonstrates the ways in which jazz professionalism became a source of pride within this community, and he offers his thoughts on the continued relevance of jazz education in the twenty-first century.
Bix Beiderbecke was one of the first great legends of jazz. Among the most innovative cornet soloists of the 1920s and the first important white player, he invented the jazz ballad and pointed the way to “cool” jazz. But his recording career lasted just six years; he drank himself to death in 1931—at the age of twenty-eight. It was this meteoric rise and fall, combined with the searing originality of his playing and the mystery of his character—who was Bix? not even his friends or family seemed to know—that inspired subsequent generations to imitate him, worship him, and write about him. It also provoked Brendan Wolfe’s Finding Bix a personal and often surprising attempt to connect music, history, and legend.
A native of Beiderbecke’s hometown of Davenport, Iowa, Wolfe grew up seeing Bix’s iconic portrait on everything from posters to parking garages. He never heard his music, though, until cast to play a bit part in an Italian biopic filmed in Davenport. Then, after writing a newspaper review of a book about Beiderbecke, Wolfe unexpectedly received a letter from the late musician's nephew scolding him for getting a number of facts wrong. This is where Finding Bix begins: in Wolfe's good-faith attempt to get the facts right.
What follows, though, is anything but straightforward, as Wolfe discovers Bix Beiderbecke to be at the heart of furious and ever-timely disputes over addiction, race and the origins of jazz, sex, and the influence of commerce on art. He also uncovers proof that the only newspaper interview Bix gave in his lifetime was a fraud, almost entirely plagiarized from several different sources. In fact, Wolfe comes to realize that the closer he seems to get to Bix, the more the legend retreats.
Detailing the fascinating career of Joe Evans, Follow Your Heart chronicles the nearly thirty years that he spent immersed in one of the most exciting times in African American music history. An alto saxophonist who between 1939 and 1965 performed with some of America's greatest musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker, Jay McShann, Andy Kirk, Billie Holiday, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lionel Hampton, and Ivory Joe Hunter, Evans warmly recounts his wide range of experience in the music industry. Readers follow Evans from Pensacola, Florida, where he first learned to play, to such exotic destinations as Tel Aviv and Paris, which he visited while on tour with Lionel Hampton. Evans also comments on popular New York City venues used for shaping and producing black music, such as the Apollo Theater, the Savoy, Minton's Playhouse, and the Rhythm Club.
Revealing Evans as a master storyteller, Follow Your Heart describes his stints as a music executive, entrepreneur, and musician. Evans provides rich descriptions of jazz, swing, and rhythm and blues culture by highlighting his experiences promoting tracks to radio deejays under Ray Charles's Tangerine label and later writing, arranging, and producing hits for the Manhattans and the Pretenders. Leading numerous musical ventures that included a publishing company and several labels--Cee Jay Records (with Jack Rags), Revival, and Carnival Records--Evans remained active in the music industry even after he stopped performing regularly. As one of the few who enjoyed success as both performer and entrepreneur, he offers invaluable insight into race relations within the industry, the development of African American music and society from the 1920s to 1970s, and the music scene of the era.
"Hazel Scott was an important figure in the later part of the Black renaissance onward. Even in an era where there was limited mainstream recognition of Black Stars, Hazel Scott's talent stood out and she is still fondly remembered by a large segment of the community. I am pleased to see her legend honored."
---Melvin Van Peebles, filmmaker and director
"This book is really, really important. It comprises a lot of history---of culture, race, gender, and America. In many ways, Hazel's story is the story of the twentieth century."
---Murray Horwitz, NPR commentator and coauthor of Ain't Misbehavin'
"Karen Chilton has deftly woven three narrative threads---Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Harlem, and Hazel Scott---into a marvelous tapestry of black life, particularly from the Depression to the Civil Rights era. Of course, Hazel Scott's magnificent career is the brightest thread, and Chilton handles it with the same finesse and brilliance as her subject brought to the piano."
---Herb Boyd, author of Baldwin's Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin
"A wonderful book about an extraordinary woman: Hazel Scott was a glamorous, gifted musician and fierce freedom fighter. Thank you Karen Chilton for reintroducing her. May she never be forgotten."
---Farah Griffin, Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Columbia University
In this fascinating biography, Karen Chilton traces the brilliant arc of the gifted and audacious pianist Hazel Scott, from international stardom to ultimate obscurity.
A child prodigy, born in Trinidad and raised in Harlem in the 1920s, Scott's musical talent was cultivated by her musician mother, Alma Long Scott as well as several great jazz luminaries of the period, namely, Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday and Lester Young. Career success was swift for the young pianist---she auditioned at the prestigious Juilliard School when she was only eight years old, hosted her own radio show, and shared the bill at Roseland Ballroom with the Count Basie Orchestra at fifteen. After several stand-out performances on Broadway, it was the opening of New York's first integrated nightclub, Café Society, that made Hazel Scott a star. Still a teenager, the "Darling of Café Society" wowed audiences with her swing renditions of classical masterpieces by Chopin, Bach, and Rachmaninoff. By the time Hollywood came calling, Scott had achieved such stature that she could successfully challenge the studios' deplorable treatment of black actors. She would later become one of the first black women to host her own television show. During the 1940s and 50s, her sexy and vivacious presence captivated fans worldwide, while her marriage to the controversial black Congressman from Harlem, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., kept her constantly in the headlines.
In a career spanning over four decades, Hazel Scott became known not only for her accomplishments on stage and screen, but for her outspoken advocacy of civil rights and her refusal to play before segregated audiences. Her relentless crusade on behalf of African Americans, women, and artists made her the target of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy Era, eventually forcing her to join the black expatriate community in Paris. By age twenty-five, Hazel Scott was an international star. Before reaching thirty-five, however, she considered herself a failure. Plagued by insecurity and depression, she twice tried to take her own life. Though she was once one of the most sought-after talents in show business, Scott would return to America, after years of living abroad, to a music world that no longer valued what she had to offer. In this first biography of an important but overlooked African American pianist, singer, actor and activist, Hazel Scott's contributions are finally recognized.
Karen Chilton is a New York-based writer and actor, and the coauthor of I Wish You Love, the memoir of legendary jazz vocalist Gloria Lynne.
Composer of more than 100 jazz pieces, three-time Grammy nominee, and performer on more than 125 albums, Jimmy Heath has earned a place of honor in the history of jazz. Over his long career, Heath knew many jazz giants such as Charlie Parker and played with other innovators including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and especially Dizzy Gillespie. Heath also won their respect and friendship.
In this extraordinary autobiography, the legendary Heath creates a “dialogue” with musicians and family members. As in jazz, where improvisation by one performer prompts another to riff on the same theme, I Walked with Giants juxtaposes Heath’s account of his life and career with recollections from jazz giants about life on the road and making music on the world’s stages. His memories of playing with his equally legendary brothers Percy and Albert (aka “Tootie”) dovetail with their recollections.
Heath reminisces about a South Philadelphia home filled with music and a close-knit family that hosted musicians performing in the city’s then thriving jazz scene. Milt Jackson recalls, “I went to their house for dinner…Jimmy’s father put Charlie Parker records on and told everybody that we had to be quiet till dinner because he had Bird on…. When I [went] to Philly, I’d always go to their house.” Today Heath performs, composes, and works as a music educator and arranger. By turns funny, poignant, and extremely candid, Heath’s story captures the rhythms of a life in jazz.
A much-revered icon of jazz, Dave Brubeck is, as Doug Ramsey calls him, “one of the most celebrated and successful jazz musicians of all time.”
It’s About Time, Fred Hall’s biography, explores the many influences on Brubeck’s life and music: his youth on a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierras; a stint in Europe with Patton’s army during World War II; the development of the West Coast jazz scene and the rise of the Dave Brubeck Quartet; musical relationships with Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, Joe Morello, and many more jazz greats; his phenomenal experiments with polytonality and polyrhythm; his fifty-three-year marriage to Iola, manager, collaborator, and mother of their six children; and important career breakthroughs, such as the first-ever million-selling jazz single, “Take Five.”
Including an annotated discography, It’s About Time is much more than an upbeat examination of the Brubeck phenomenon. It is also a penetrating view of the culture, the music, the musicians, the recording industry, and race relations of the country and the century that gave birth to jazz.
In this remarkable book, Steven Feld, pioneer of the anthropology of sound, listens to the vernacular cosmopolitanism of jazz players in Ghana. Some have traveled widely, played with American jazz greats, and blended the innovations of John Coltrane with local instruments and worldviews. Combining memoir, biography, ethnography, and history, Feld conveys a diasporic intimacy and dialogue that contests American nationalist and Afrocentric narratives of jazz history. His stories of Accra's jazz cosmopolitanism feature Ghanaba/Guy Warren (1923–2008), the eccentric drummer who befriended the likes of Charlie Parker, Max Roach, and Thelonious Monk in the United States in the 1950s, only to return, embittered, to Ghana, where he became the country's leading experimentalist. Others whose stories figure prominently are Nii Noi Nortey, who fuses the legacies of the black avant-gardes of the 1960s and 1970s with pan-African philosophy in sculptural shrines to Coltrane and musical improvisations inspired by his work; the percussionist Nii Otoo Annan, a traditional master inspired by Coltrane's drummers Elvin Jones and Rashied Ali; and a union of Accra truck and minibus drivers whose squeeze-bulb honk-horn music for drivers' funerals recalls the jazz funerals of New Orleans. Feld describes these artists' cosmopolitan outlook as an "acoustemology," a way of knowing the world through sound.
Bill Moody University of Nevada Press, 2000 Library of Congress ML3506.M66 1993 | Dewey Decimal 781.6508913
The Jazz Exiles chronicles the expatriate movement of American jazz musicians during the post-World War II era. While the term "exiles" normally conjures up images of ousted Third World leaders or deposed kings, it is as much a part of the jazz vocabulary as improvization or Birdland. Like the American writers of the 1920s who went to Europe and became Gertrude Stein's "lost generation", jazz musicians from the United States also made the Atlantic crossing at a steadily increasing rate until many of the major names in jazz lived or worked almost exclusively abroad. Throughout "The Jazz Exiles", the musicians speak for themselves in describing their motivation for joining the exodus to Europe which is now regarded as the third largest migration in jazz history. The exiles include many of the biggest names in jazz - Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Phil Woods, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Stan Getz, Benny Carter, and Bud Powell, among others. This work also assesses the impact of foreign residence on the careers of these musicians and on the history of jazz. Moody, a jazz musician himself, charts the movement of American musicians to Europe from a historical perspective and examines the exile experience from a number of sociological and economic viewpoints, all of which are factors in understanding jazz history. With stories narrated through personal interviews in the musicians' own words, "The Jazz Exiles" aims to shed new light on America's attitude toward its own original art form and examines the dilemma of the American artist both at home and abroad. Jazz aficionados, rhythm and blues fans - in fact, anyone who appreciates American music - should read the stories of these jazz exiles. "
Jazz from Detroit
Mark Stryker University of Michigan Press, 2019 Library of Congress ML3508.8.D4S87 2019 | Dewey Decimal 781.650977434
Jazz from Detroit explores the city’s pivotal role in shaping the course of modern and contemporary jazz. With more than two dozen in-depth profiles of remarkable Detroit-bred musicians, complemented by a generous selection of photographs, Mark Stryker makes Detroit jazz come alive as he draws out significant connections between the players, eras, styles, and Detroit’s distinctive history.
Stryker’s story starts in the 1940s and ’50s, when the auto industry created a thriving black working and middle class in Detroit that supported a vibrant nightlife, and exceptional public school music programs and mentors in the community like pianist Barry Harris transformed the city into a jazz juggernaut. This golden age nurtured many legendary musicians—Hank, Thad, and Elvin Jones, Gerald Wilson, Milt Jackson, Yusef Lateef, Donald Byrd, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, and others. As the city’s fortunes change, Stryker turns his spotlight toward often overlooked but prescient musician-run cooperatives and self-determination groups of the 1960s and ’70s, such as the Strata Corporation and Tribe. In more recent decades, the city’s culture of mentorship, embodied by trumpeter and teacher Marcus Belgrave, ensured that Detroit continued to incubate world-class talent; Belgrave protégés like Geri Allen, Kenny Garrett, Robert Hurst, Regina Carter, Gerald Cleaver, and Karriem Riggins helped define contemporary jazz. The resilience of Detroit’s jazz tradition provides a powerful symbol of the city’s lasting cultural influence.
Stryker’s 21 years as an arts reporter and critic at the Detroit Free Press are evident in his vivid storytelling and insightful criticism. Jazz from Detroit will appeal to jazz aficionados, casual fans, and anyone interested in the vibrant and complex history of cultural life in Detroit.
Jazz from the Beginning
Garvin Bushell University of Michigan Press, 1990 Library of Congress ML419.B89A3 1988 | Dewey Decimal 788.60924
Few musicians can boast careers as long and productive as that of jazz instrumentalist Garvin Bushell. In Jazz from the Beginning, Bushell vividly recounts his musical experiences and reflects on some of the major personalities who shaped the history of jazz. Bushell's memoir vibrates with the excitement of being a part of the evolution of jazz. He began his career as a teenager, playing clarinet in a circus band. In the 1920s, he played gigs in rowdy Harlem cabarets and was a member of the Sam Wooding ensemble, one of the first black musical groups to tour Europe, Russia, and South America. In the 1930s, he performed with the big bands of Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, and Chick Webb. In the 1950s and 1960s he participated in the Dixieland revival and in the modern experiments of Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane. Bushell also recalls with candor the scarring experiences of racial prejudice he encountered while touring America and Europe. Mark Tucker has carefully compiled Bushell's memoirs from a series of thirty-one taped interviews made in the summer of 1986. His text preserves Bushell’s warmth and personality and provides scholars and music lovers alike with a critical analysis of African-American music and an important record of seventy years of American musical history.
Rich in anecdote and insight, Jazz Matters is a collection of essays, profiles, and reviews by Doug Ramsey, and observer and chronicler of jazz and its musicians for more than thirty years. It stirs the reader to discover or rediscover the music and performers Ramsey describes. His accounts of recording sessions and live performances enhance this excellent review of the history, variety, and artistic depth that make jazz so profound an element in modern culture.
Jazz Matters gives the reader a basis for understanding jazz improvisation Ramsey’s sensitive, straightforward, and entertaining pieces promote appreciation of the accomplishment of artists from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.
John Coltrane was a key figure in jazz, a pioneer in world music, and an intensely emotional force whose following continues to grow. This new biography, the first by a professional jazz scholar and performer, presents a huge amount of never-before-published material, including interviews with Coltrane, photos, genealogical documents, and innovative musical analysis that offers a fresh view of Coltrane's genius.
Compiled from scratch with the assistance of dozens of Coltrane's colleagues, friends, and family, John Coltrane: His Life and Music corrects numerous errors from previous biographies. The significant people in Coltrane's life were reinterviewed, yielding new insights; some were interviewed for the first time ever.
The musical analysis, which is accessible to the nonspecialist, makes its own revelations--for example, that some of Coltrane's well-known pieces are based on previously unrecognized sources. The Appendix is the most detailed chronology of Coltrane's performing career ever compiled, listing scores of previously unknown performances from the 1940s and early 1950s.
Coltrane has become a musical inspiration for thousands of fans and musicians and a personal inspiration to as many more. For all of these, Porter's book will become the definitive resource--a reliable guide to the events of Coltrane's life and an insightful look into his musical practices.
". . . well researched, musically knowledgeable, and enormously interesting to read. Porter is a jazz scholar with deep knowledge of the tradition he is studying, both conceptually and technically." --Richard Crawford, University of Michigan
"Lewis Porter is a meticulous person with love and respect for Afro-American classical music. I applaud this definitive study of my friend John Coltrane's life adn achievements." --Jimmy Heath, jazz saxophonist, composer, educator
Lewis Porter is Associate Professor of Music, Rutgers University in Newark. A leading jazz scholar, he is the author of Jazz Readings from a Century of Change and coauthor of Jazz: From Its Origins to the Present. He was a project consultant on The Complete Atlantic Recordings of John Coltrane, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Historical Reissue, and an editor and assisting author of the definitive Coltrane discography by Y. Fujioka.
Dottie Dodgion is a jazz drummer who played with the best. A survivor, she lived an entire lifetime before she was seventeen. Undeterred by hardships she defied the odds and earned a seat as a woman in the exclusive men’s club of jazz. Her dues-paying path as a musician took her from early work with Charles Mingus to being hired by Benny Goodman at Basin Street East on her first day in New York. From there she broke new ground as a woman who played a “man’s instrument” in first-string, all-male New York City jazz bands. Her inspiring memoir talks frankly about her music and the challenges she faced, and shines a light into the jazz world of the 1960s and 1970s.
Vivid and always entertaining, The Lady Swings tells Dottie Dodgion's story with the same verve and straight-ahead honesty that powered her playing.
“Meticulously researched, detailed and documented, this long awaited overview justly establishes Konitz as one of the most consistently brilliant, adventurous and original improvisers in the jazz tradition—a genius as rare as Bird himself.”
“Hamilton’s work may well mark the inception of a format new to writing on Western music, one which avoids both the self-aggrandizing of autobiography and the stylized subjectification of biography.”
“An extraordinary approach to a biography, with the man himself speaking for extended sessions. The main vibration I felt from Lee’s words was total honesty, almost to a fault. Konitz shows himself to be an acute observer of the scene, full of wisdom and deep musical insights, relevant to any historical period regardless of style. The asides by noted musicians are beautifully woven throughout the pages. I couldn’t put the book down—it is the definition of a living history.”
The preeminent altoist associated with the “cool” school of jazz, Lee Konitz was one of the few saxophonists of his generation to forge a unique sound independent of the influence of Charlie Parker. In the late 1940s, Konitz began his career with the Claude Thornhill band, during which time he came into contact with Miles Davis, with whom he would later work on the legendary Birth of the Cool sessions. Konitz is perhaps best known through his association with Lennie Tristano, under whose influence much of his sound evolved, and for his work with Stan Kenton and Warne Marsh. His recordings have ranged from cool bop to experimental improvisation and have appeared on such labels as Prestige, Atlantic, Verve, and Polydor.
Crafted out of numerous interviews between the author and his subject, the book offers a unique look at the story of Lee Konitz’s life and music, detailing Konitz’s own insights into his musical education and his experiences with such figures as Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lennie Tristano, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, and Bill Evans.
Andy Hamilton is a jazz pianist and contributor to major jazz and contemporary music magazines. He teaches philosophy, and the history and aesthetics of jazz, at Durham University in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the book Aesthetics and Music (Continuum 2007).
Joe Lovano is a Grammy Award–winning tenor saxophonist. His most recent album is Streams of Expression.
“In Lennie Tristano: His Life in Music, Shim has provided a comprehensive biographical and analytical account of one of jazz’s most important and most frequently misunderstood figures. Her insights into Tristano’s personality are well nuanced, and the focus on his teaching makes a unique contribution to the history of jazz. This vividly written study is likely to become a standard work.”
—Brian Priestley, author of Chasin’ the Bird: The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker and coauthor of The Rough Guide to Jazz
“Eunmi Shim’s book is clearly a labor of love. Her thorough examination of Tristano’s teaching is particularly important, for no one previously has assembled the thoughts of so many former students. Her illuminating transcriptions of, and commentaries on, Tristano’s solos are also valuable. Lennie Tristano is an important contribution to the literature on jazz.”
—Thomas Owens, author of Bebop: The Music and Its Players
“Comprehensive, objective, and acute in its judgments, this is the biography of Lennie Tristano we have been waiting for.”
—Larry Kart, author of Jazz in Search of Itself
Lennie Tristano occupies a rare position not only in jazz history but in the history of twentieth-century music. Emerging from an era when modernism was the guiding principle in art, Tristano explored musical avenues that were avant-garde even by modernism’s experimental standards. In so doing, he tested and transcended the boundaries of jazz.
In 1949, years before musicians such as Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor took credit for the movement, Tristano made the first recordings of “free jazz,” a new kind of group improvisation based on spontaneous interaction among band members without any regard for predetermined form, harmony, or rhythm. Then, in the 1950s, Tristano broke new ground by his use of multitracking.
Tristano was also a pioneer in the teaching of jazz, devoting the latter part of his career almost exclusively to music instruction. He founded a jazz school—the first of its kind—among whose students were saxophonists Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz, and pianist Sal Mosca.
With its blend of oral history, archival research, and musical analysis, Lennie Tristano sheds new light on the important role Tristano played in the jazz world and introduces this often-overlooked musician to a new generation of jazz aficionados.
Eunmi Shim received her Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is now Assistant Professor of Music at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. This is her first book.
Lewis Porter University of Michigan Press, 2005 Library of Congress ML419.Y7P7 2005 | Dewey Decimal 788.7165092
Praise for Lester Young:
". . . a schematic of unparalleled insight and detail."
"A monumental work."
". . . a major contribution to jazz scholarship . . . for its illumination of Lester Young's music and for setting the biographical record straight."
Several new biographies of Lester Young have been published in the years since Lewis Porter's Lester Young first appeared, but none have supplanted or even attempted the in-depth study that Porter brings to his subject's music. With the same care and scholarship that characterized his John Coltrane, Porter analyzes the music that made Lester Young "the most original tenor sax in jazz."
In addition to helping us understand Lester Young's playing and stylistic evolution, Porter's analysis demonstrates that Young's playing at the end of his career did not mark a serious decline over his earlier style, as many critics have claimed.
A swing note is, to the listener of the rhythm, an unexpected note, and it is the spark of life in jazz and its relatives. Whether playing the standards or the most experimental piece, it is how a musician handles these notes—fearlessly or safely—that determines the fate of the performance. Howard Reich’s critical writing is similarly unexpected and fearless, and Let Freedom Swing is a collection of the articles from the past three decades that best capture this spirit.
Each section of Let Freedom Swing composes a suite, focusing on either a person, place, or scene. Reich gives new life to the standards with his profiles and elegies for such giants as Gershwin, Ellington, and Sinatra. A profile of Louis Armstrong brings out the often angry side of Satchmo but also reveals a more remarkable musician and human being.
His open-mindedness makes Reich a particularly astute observer of the experimental and new, from Ornette Coleman to Chicago experimentalist Ken Vandermark. And his observations about street music open our ears to the songs of everyday life. Reich’s fearlessness is evident in his writing about daunting subjects, such as the New Orleans music scene after Katrina, the lost legacy of jazz in Panama, and the complicated legacy of "race music" in America.
Howard Reich combines a deep enthusiasm for music, a breadth of knowledge, and an ability to share his world with his readers, and Let Freedom Swing is essential reading for anyone interested in the continuing vitality of jazz, gospel, blues, and American music in general.
Any listener knows the power of music to define a place, but few can describe the how or why of this phenomenon. In Lonesome Roads and Streets of Dreams: Place, Mobility, and Race in Jazz of the 1930s and ’40s, Andrew Berish attempts to right this wrong, showcasing how American jazz defined a culture particularly preoccupied with place. By analyzing both the performances and cultural context of leading jazz figures, including the many famous venues where they played, Berish bridges two dominant scholarly approaches to the genre, offering not only a new reading of swing era jazz but an entirely new framework for musical analysis in general, one that examines how the geographical realities of daily life can be transformed into musical sound.
Focusing on white bandleader Jan Garber, black bandleader Duke Ellington, white saxophonist Charlie Barnet, and black guitarist Charlie Christian, as well as traveling from Catalina Island to Manhattan to Oklahoma City, Lonesome Roads and Streets of Dreams depicts not only a geography of race but how this geography was disrupted, how these musicians crossed physical and racial boundaries—from black to white, South to North, and rural to urban—and how they found expression for these movements in the insistent music they were creating.
Garry Boulard University of Illinois Press, 1998 Library of Congress ML419.P72B7 2002 | Dewey Decimal 784.4165092
Louis Prima infused the grit and grace of Dixieland jazz with swing and big band sounds, the first whiffs of rock 'n' roll, and a vaudevillian stage presence. Garry Boulard pens the biography of the underrated jazz musician, Las Vegas mainstay, and popular entertainer.
A native of New Orleans, Prima was a Guy Lombardo protégé known as "The Italian Satchmo" who became the country's new jazz sensation at New York's Famous Door in the 1930s. He went on to success as a big band leader before virtually creating the lounge act as a Las Vegas nightclub staple. Employing and later marrying singer Keely Smith, Prima rode high with a series of hit songs and smash albums in the Fifties. But Boulard also looks past the over-the-top stage antics to restore Prima's legacy as an overlooked jazz musician and vocalist, and as a bandleader with an uncanny ability to fuse disparate styles into music that kept audiences cheering and dancing for decades.
Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew is one of the most iconic albums in American music, the preeminent landmark and fertile seedbed of jazz-fusion. Fans have been fortunate in the past few years to gain access to Davis’s live recordings from this time, when he was working with an ensemble that has come to be known as the Lost Quintet. In this book, jazz historian and musician Bob Gluck explores the performances of this revolutionary group—Davis’s first electric band—to illuminate the thinking of one of our rarest geniuses and, by extension, the extraordinary transition in American music that he and his fellow players ushered in.
Gluck listens deeply to the uneasy tension between this group’s driving rhythmic groove and the sonic and structural openness, surprise, and experimentation they were always pushing toward. There he hears—and outlines—a fascinating web of musical interconnection that brings Davis’s funk-inflected sensibilities into conversation with the avant-garde worlds that players like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane were developing. Going on to analyze the little-known experimental groups Circle and the Revolutionary Ensemble, Gluck traces deep resonances across a commercial gap between the celebrity Miles Davis and his less famous but profoundly innovative peers. The result is a deeply attuned look at a pivotal moment when once-disparate worlds of American music came together in explosively creative combinations.
Music Is My Life is the first comprehensive analysis of Louis Armstrong's autobiographical writings (including his books, essays, and letters) and their relation to his musical and visual performances. Combining approaches from autobiography theory, literary criticism, intermedia studies, cultural history, and musicology, Daniel Stein reconstructs Armstrong's performances of his life story across various media and for different audiences, complicating the monolithic and hagiographic views of the musician.
The book will appeal to academic readers with an interest in African American studies, jazz studies, musicology, and popular culture, as well as general readers interested in Armstrong's life and music, jazz, and twentieth-century entertainment. While not a biography, it provides a key to understanding Armstrong's oeuvre as well as his complicated place in American history and twentieth-century media culture.
My Sax Life: A Memoir
Paquito D'Rivera Northwestern University Press, 2008 Library of Congress ML419.D75A3 2005 | Dewey Decimal 788.7165092
Winner of 2005 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition
Winner of 2005 National Medal of Arts
My Sax Life is the award-winning memoir of famed Cuban musician Paquito D'Rivera. A best-selling artist with more than thirty solo albums to his credit, D'Rivera has performed at the White House and the Blue Note, and with orchestras, jazz ensembles, and chamber groups around the world. Propelled by jazz-fueled high spirits, D'Rivera's story soars and spins from memory to memory in a collage of his remarkable life. D'Rivera recalls his early nightclub appearances as a child, performing with clowns and exotic dancers, as well as his search for artistic freedom in communist Cuba and his hungry explorations of world music after his defection. Opinionated but always good-humored, My Sax Life is a fascinating statement on art and the artist's life.
New Musical Figurations exemplifies a dramatically new way of configuring jazz music and history. By relating biography to the cultural and musical contours of contemporary American life, Ronald M. Radano observes jazz practice as part of the complex interweaving of postmodern culture—a culture that has eroded conventional categories defining jazz and the jazz musician. Radano accomplishes all this by analyzing the creative life of Anthony Braxton, one of the most emblematic figures of this cultural crisis.
Born in 1945, Braxton is not only a virtuoso jazz saxophonist but an innovative theoretician and composer of experimental art music. His refusal to conform to the conventions of official musical culture has helped unhinge the very ideologies on which definitions of "jazz," "black music," "popular music," and "art music" are founded.
New Musical Figurations gives the richest view available of this many-sided artist. Radano examines Braxton's early years on the South Side of Chicago, whose vibrant black musical legacy inspired him to explore new avenues of expression. Here is the first detailed history of Braxton's central role in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the principal musician-run institution of free jazz in the United States. After leaving Chicago, Braxton was active in Paris and New York, collaborating with Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewski, and other composers affiliated with the experimental-music movement. From 1974 to 1981, he gained renown as a popular jazz performer and recording artist. Since then he has taught at Mills College and Wesleyan University, given lectures on his theoretical musical system, and written works for chamber groups as well as large, opera-scale pieces.
The neglect of radical, challenging figures like Braxton in standard histories of jazz, Radano argues, mutes the innovative voice of the African-American musical tradition. Refreshingly free of technical jargon, New Musical Figurations is more than just another variation on the same jazz theme. Rather, it is an exploratory work as rich in theoretical vision as it is in historical detail.
The critic Norman Granz called tenor saxophonist Lester Young "the greatest musician I have heard on the instrument." Douglas Ramsey speaks of Young as "the gentle bedeviled genius whose vision of beauty found expression even though he was hounded throughout his life by nearly every demon the twentieth century had managed to spawn." This is his story, told with love and candor.
At the height of the ideological antagonism of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department unleashed an unexpected tool in its battle against Communism: jazz. From 1956 through the late 1970s, America dispatched its finest jazz musicians to the far corners of the earth, from Iraq to India, from the Congo to the Soviet Union, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Third World and to counter perceptions of American racism.
Penny Von Eschen escorts us across the globe, backstage and onstage, as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and other jazz luminaries spread their music and their ideas further than the State Department anticipated. Both in concert and after hours, through political statements and romantic liaisons, these musicians broke through the government's official narrative and gave their audiences an unprecedented vision of the black American experience. In the process, new collaborations developed between Americans and the formerly colonized peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East--collaborations that fostered greater racial pride and solidarity.
Though intended as a color-blind promotion of democracy, this unique Cold War strategy unintentionally demonstrated the essential role of African Americans in U.S. national culture. Through the tales of these tours, Von Eschen captures the fascinating interplay between the efforts of the State Department and the progressive agendas of the artists themselves, as all struggled to redefine a more inclusive and integrated American nation on the world stage.
Jazz was born on the streets, grew up in the clubs, and will die—so some fear—at the university. Facing dwindling commercial demand and the gradual disappearance of venues, many aspiring jazz musicians today learn their craft, and find their careers, in one of the many academic programs that now offer jazz degrees. School for Cool is their story. Going inside the halls of two of the most prestigious jazz schools around—at Berklee College of Music in Boston and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York—Eitan Y. Wilf tackles a formidable question at the heart of jazz today: can creativity survive institutionalization?
Few art forms epitomize the anti-institutional image more than jazz, but it’s precisely at the academy where jazz is now flourishing. This shift has introduced numerous challenges and contradictions to the music’s practitioners. Solos are transcribed, technique is standardized, and the whole endeavor is plastered with the label “high art”—a far cry from its freewheeling days. Wilf shows how students, educators, and administrators have attempted to meet these challenges with an inventive spirit and a robust drive to preserve—and foster—what they consider to be jazz’s central attributes: its charisma and unexpectedness. He also highlights the unintended consequences of their efforts to do so. Ultimately, he argues, the gap between creative practice and institutionalized schooling, although real, is often the product of our efforts to close it.
"Joe Wilder set the table. His struggles made it easier for me and many others."--From the Foreword by Wynton Marsalis
Trumpeter Joe Wilder is distinguished for his achievements in both the jazz and classical worlds. He was a founding member of the Symphony of the New World, where he played first trumpet, and he performed as lead trumpet and soloist with Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie. Yet Wilder is also known as a pioneer who broke down racial barriers, the first African American to hold a principal chair in a Broadway show orchestra, and one of the first African Americans to join a network studio orchestra.
In Softly, with Feeling, Edward Berger tells Wilder's remarkable story-from his growing up in working-class Philadelphia to becoming one of the first 1,000 black Marines during World War II-with tremendous feeling and extensive reminiscences by Wilder and his colleagues, including renowned Philadelphia-area musicians Jimmy Heath and Buddy DeFranco. Berger also places Wilder's experiences within a broader context of American musical and social history.
Wilder's modesty and ability to perform in many musical genres may have prevented him from achieving popular recognition, but in Softly, with Feeling, his legacy and contributions to music and culture are assured.
For a half century, Ben Webster, one of the "big three" of swing tenors-along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young-was one of the best-known and most popular saxophonists.
Early in his career, Webster worked with many of the greatest orchestras of the time, including those led by Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk, Bennie Moten, and Teddy Wilson. In 1940 Webster became Duke Ellington's first major tenor soloist, and during the next three years he played on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail."
Someone to Watch Over Me tells, for the first time, the complete story of Ben Webster's brilliant and troubled career. For this comprehensive study of Webster, author Frank Büchmann-Møller interviewed more than fifty people in the United States and Europe, and he includes numerous translated excerpts from European periodicals and newspapers, none previously available in English. In addition, the author studies every known Webster recording and film, including many private recordings from Webster's home collection not available to the public.
Exhaustively researched, this is a much needed and long overdue study of the life and music of one of jazz's most important artists.
Despite his importance and influence, jazz musician, educator, and community leader Horace Tapscott remains relatively unknown to most Americans. In Songs of the Unsung Tapscott shares his life story, recalling his childhood in Houston, moving with his family to Los Angeles in 1943, learning music, and his early professional career. He describes forming the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra in 1961 and later the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension to preserve African American music and serve the community. Tapscott also recounts his interactions with the Black Panthers and law enforcement, the Watts riots, his work in Hollywood movie studios, and stories about his famous musician-activist friends. Songs of the Unsung is the captivating story of one of America’s most unassuming heroes as well as the story of L.A.'s cultural and political evolution over the last half of the twentieth century.
The jazz musician-composer-arranger Mary Lou Williams spent her sixty-year career working in—and stretching beyond—a dizzying range of musical styles. Her integration of classical music into her works helped expand jazz's compositional language. Her generosity made her a valued friend and mentor to the likes of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. Her late-in-life flowering of faith saw her embrace a spiritual jazz oriented toward advancing the civil rights struggle and helping wounded souls.
Tammy L. Kernodle details Williams's life in music against the backdrop of controversies over women's place in jazz and bitter arguments over the music's evolution. Williams repeatedly asserted her artistic and personal independence to carve out a place despite widespread bafflement that a woman exhibited such genius. Embracing Williams's contradictions and complexities, Kernodle also explores a personal life troubled by lukewarm professional acceptance, loneliness, relentless poverty, bad business deals, and difficult marriages.
In-depth and epic in scope, Soul on Soul restores a pioneering African American woman to her rightful place in jazz history.
Considered by many to be a founder of Afrofuturism, Sun Ra—aka Herman Blount—was a composer, keyboardist, bandleader, philosopher, entrepreneur, poet, and self-proclaimed extraterrestrial from Saturn. He recorded over 200 albums with his Arkestra, which, dressed in Egypto-space costumes, played everything from boogie-woogie and swing to fusion and free jazz. John Szwed's Space is the Place is the definitive biography of this musical polymath, who was one of the twentieth century's greatest avant-garde artists and intellectuals. Charting the whole of Sun Ra's life and career, Szwed outlines how after years in Chicago as a blues and swing band pianist, Sun Ra set out in the 1950s to impart his views about the galaxy, black people, and spiritual matters by performing music with the Arkestra that was as vital and innovative as it was mercurial and confounding. Szwed's readers—whether they are just discovering Sun Ra or are among the legion of poets, artists, intellectuals, and musicians who consider him a spiritual godfather—will find that, indeed, space is the place.
Steve Lacy: Conversations
Jason Weiss, ed. Duke University Press, 2006 Library of Congress ML419.L22S84 2006 | Dewey Decimal 788.72165092
Steve Lacy: Conversations is a collection of thirty-four interviews with the innovative saxophonist and jazz composer. Lacy (1934–2004), a pioneer in making the soprano saxophone a contemporary jazz instrument, was a prolific performer and composer, with hundreds of recordings to his name.
This volume brings together interviews that appeared in a variety of magazines between 1959 and 2004. Conducted by writers, critics, musicians, visual artists, a philosopher, and an architect, the interviews indicate the evolution of Lacy’s extraordinary career and thought. Lacy began playing the soprano saxophone at sixteen, and was soon performing with Dixieland musicians much older than he. By nineteen he was playing with the pianist Cecil Taylor, who ignited his interest in the avant-garde. He eventually became the foremost proponent of Thelonious Monk’s music. Lacy played with a broad range of musicians, including Monk and Gil Evans, and led his own bands. A voracious reader and the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, Lacy was particularly known for setting to music literary texts—such as the Tao Te Ching, and the work of poets including Samuel Beckett, Robert Creeley, and Taslima Nasrin—as well as for collaborating with painters and dancers in multimedia projects.
Lacy lived in Paris from 1970 until 2002, and his music and ideas reflect a decades-long cross-pollination of cultures. Half of the interviews in this collection originally appeared in French sources and were translated specifically for this book. Jason Weiss provides a general introduction, as well as short introductions to each of the interviews and to the selection of Lacy’s own brief writings that appears at the end of the book. The volume also includes three song scores, a selected discography of Lacy’s recordings, and many photos from the personal collection of his wife and longtime collaborator, Irene Aebi.
Interviews by: Derek Bailey, Franck Bergerot, Yves Bouliane, Etienne Brunet, Philippe Carles, Brian Case, Garth W. Caylor Jr., John Corbett, Christoph Cox, Alex Dutilh, Lee Friedlander, Maria Friedlander, Isabelle Galloni d'Istria, Christian Gauffre, Raymond Gervais, Paul Gros-Claude, Alain-René Hardy, Ed Hazell, Alain Kirili, Mel Martin, Franck Médioni, Xavier Prévost, Philippe Quinsac, Ben Ratliff, Gérard Rouy, Kirk Silsbee, Roberto Terlizzi, Jason Weiss
A landmark in jazz studies, Thinking in Jazz reveals as never before how musicians, both individually and collectively, learn to improvise. Chronicling leading musicians from their first encounters with jazz to the development of a unique improvisatory voice, Paul Berliner documents the lifetime of preparation that lies behind the skilled improviser's every idea.
The product of more than fifteen years of immersion in the jazz world, Thinking in Jazz combines participant observation with detailed musicological analysis, the author's experience as a jazz trumpeter, interpretations of published material by scholars and performers, and, above all, original data from interviews with more than fifty professional musicians: bassists George Duvivier and Rufus Reid; drummers Max Roach, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Akira Tana; guitarist Emily Remler; pianists Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris; saxophonists Lou Donaldson, Lee Konitz, and James Moody; trombonist Curtis Fuller; trumpeters Doc Cheatham, Art Farmer, Wynton Marsalis, and Red Rodney; vocalists Carmen Lundy and Vea Williams; and others. Together, the interviews provide insight into the production of jazz by great artists like Betty Carter, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker.
Thinking in Jazz overflows with musical examples from the 1920s to the present, including original transcriptions (keyed to commercial recordings) of collective improvisations by Miles Davis's and John Coltrane's groups. These transcriptions provide additional insight into the structure and creativity of jazz improvisation and represent a remarkable resource for jazz musicians as well as students and educators.
Berliner explores the alternative ways—aural, visual, kinetic, verbal, emotional, theoretical, associative—in which these performers conceptualize their music and describes the delicate interplay of soloist and ensemble in collective improvisation. Berliner's skillful integration of data concerning musical development, the rigorous practice and thought artists devote to jazz outside of performance, and the complexities of composing in the moment leads to a new understanding of jazz improvisation as a language, an aesthetic, and a tradition. This unprecedented journey to the heart of the jazz tradition will fascinate and enlighten musicians, musicologists, and jazz fans alike.
In 1948, at the age of fifteen, Manu Dibango left Africa for France, bearing three kilos of coffee for his adopted family and little else. This book chronicles Manu Dibango's remarkable rise from his birth in Douala, Cameroon, to his worldwide success—with Soul Makossa in 1972—as the first African musician ever to record a top 40s hit.
Composer, producer, performer, film score writer and humanitarian for the poor, Manu Dibango defines the "African sound" of modern world music. He has worked with and influenced such artists as Art Blakey, Don Cherry, Herbie Hancock, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and Johnny Clegg. In Africa, he has helped younger musicians, performed benefit concerts, and transcribed for the first time the scores and lyrics of African musicians.
The product of a "mixed marriage" (of different tribes and religions) who owes allegiances to both Africa and Europe, Dibango has always been aware of the ambiguities of his identity. This awareness has informed all of the important events of his life, from his marriage to a white Frenchwoman in 1957, to his creation of an "Afro-music" which joyfully blends blues, jazz, reggae, traditional European and African serenades, highlife, Caribbean and Arabic music. This music addresses the meaning of "Africanness" and what it means to be a Black artist and citizen of the world.
This lively and thoughtful memoir is based on an extensive set of interviews in 1989 with French journalist Danielle Rouard. Richly illustrated with photographs, this book will be a must for readers of jazz biographies, students of African music and ethnomusicology, and all those who are lovers of Manu Dibango's unique artistry and accomplishments.
Since ascending onto the world stage in the 1990s as one of the premier bassists and composers of his generation, William Parker has perpetually toured around the world and released over forty albums as a leader. He is one of the most influential jazz artists alive today. In Universal Tonality historian and critic Cisco Bradley tells the story of Parker’s life and music. Drawing on interviews with Parker and his collaborators, Bradley traces Parker’s ancestral roots in West Africa via the Carolinas to his childhood in the South Bronx, and illustrates his rise from the 1970s jazz lofts and extended work with pianist Cecil Taylor to the present day. He outlines how Parker’s early influences—Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and writers of the Black Arts Movement—grounded Parker’s aesthetic and musical practice in a commitment to community and the struggle for justice and freedom. Throughout, Bradley foregrounds Parker’s understanding of music, the role of the artist, and the relationship between art, politics, and social transformation. Intimate and capacious, Universal Tonality is the definitive work on Parker’s life and music.
Sam Wooding, Benny Waters, Bix Beiderbecke,
Joe Tarto, Bud Freeman, Jimmy McPartland, Freddie Moore and Jabbo Smith:
Chip Deffaa has interviewed all but Bix, whose last months we learn about
from never-before-published letters to his family.
"A major contribution to jazz
-- The Mississippi Rag
“One of the greatest artists our country has is Benny Golson. He is not only a great musician, but an original and fabulous composer. He is inventive and creative and his work is loved the world over. Benny is a rare, creative genius. All I would like to say is THREE CHEERS for Benny Golson!”—Tony Bennett
“Composer supreme, tenor man supreme, jazz man supreme, good guy supreme: that’s BENNY GOLSON!"—Sonny Rollins
Born during the de facto inaugural era of jazz, saxophonist Benny Golson learned his instrument and the vocabulary of jazz alongside John Coltrane while Golson was still in high school in Philadelphia. Quickly establishing himself as an iconic fixture on the jazz landscape, Golson performed with dozens of jazz greats, from Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, and Jimmy Heath to Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, and many others. An acclaimed composer, Golson also wrote music for Hollywood films and television and composed such memorable jazz standards as “Stablemates,” “Killer Joe,” and “Whisper Not.”
An eloquent account of Golson’s exceptional life—presented episodically rather than chronologically—Whisper Not includes a dazzling collection of anecdotes, memories, experiences, and photographs that recount the successes, the inevitable failures, and the rewards of a life eternally dedicated to jazz.
An extensive, upbeat compilation of Wisconsin’s jazz musicians
Although New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago are often considered the epicenters of American jazz, this extensive, upbeat compilation of jazz musician biographies details Wisconsin’s rich association the genre since its the inception of the genre in the early 1900s. Iconic musicians Bunny Berigan, Woody Herman, Les Paul, and Al Jarreau all hailed from Wisconsin, as have many other influential players, composers, and teachers. Wisconsin Riffs features these musicians side-by-side—from the world-renowned to obscure regional artists—to portray a comprehensive history of jazz in Wisconsin.
Through meticulous research and more than a hundred interviews, author Kurt Dietrich has assembled a group of musicians who represent a wide range of backgrounds, ages, stylistic schools, and experiences—from leaders of swing-era big bands to legendary Wisconsin Conservatory instructors to today’s up-and-coming practitioners of contemporary jazz and jazz rock. For aspiring musicians, jazz enthusiasts, and fans of Wisconsin culture alike, Wisconsin Riffs presents a compelling, complex, and multi-layered concoction—just like jazz itself.
Jazz Matters gives the reader a basis for understanding jazz improvisation Ramsey’s sensitive, straightforward, and entertaining pieces promote appreciation of the accomplishment of artists from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.