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Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60 Paperback – June 22, 2001
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
How else could you know about Detroit musicians like drummer J. C. Heard who fanned out across the country, blending their talents into the bands of Lionel Hampton, Fletcher Henderson, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and many others?
You might read this book to see how the Detroit influence added to the influences of New Orleans, New York and Chicago to the world of jazz.
Or you might read it to find out why Detroit is where it's at in its own musical history.
Or if you lived in Detroit, you might read it to understand the significance of the mute things around you, through which maybe you drive to work each day.
But man, read it!
Bjorn & Gallert gracefully waltz their way through this story as broken down by decade (1920s thru 50s), with the stage set in each respective chapter by an analysis of pertinent peripherals -- the economic overtures, associated demographics and resultant "shifting sands" of the years' various musical venues.
Then it's on with the show, kicking off with a historical backdrop summarizing the rise of Detroit as Motor City and the consequential influx of black laborers from the South who packed along their Blues; with the authors staking claim that it was the spontaneous combustion of the mixing of Blues with Society Bands that eventually became known as jazz, right after WWI.
The 20s, of course, were subsequently a time of Big Band Jazz in Detroit as elsewhere, and the book focuses on the local and regional successes of McKinney's Cotton Pickers and the Jean Goldkette Orchestra. As swing music then precipitated during the 30s, Paradise Valley (near today's Comerica Park) became the center of black culture in the area, providing fertile ground indeed for a good many such bands, a number of which the authors touch upon.
Personally, as a Basie-KC man & fan I wasn't as much interested in this section of the book, however, I did take special notice of two items, (1) the vivid, warm recollections of the Bennie Moten band's appearance in Detroit in 1932 (with the authors reiterating & underscoring Detroit's importance as a stopover for nationally touring black performers) and (2) the inspiration that those days afforded to young locals like J.C. Heard, a future world-class drummer who ultimately came back home during the 60s and whose son (Eric) I attended high school with.Read more ›
This book is extremely well-researched; maps are included of where the spots were located, and the pictures are very vivid. There was a recent book published about Detroit's history that completely ignored the nightclubs, and this book fills in the gap. In fact, in most books that have been written about Detroit's nightclub scene, you always see Al Green and the Flame, but never a word about the other clubs and or owners.
This book is definitely a must-have for music lovers and historians alike.
folks this may come as a surprise that there was a very prolific jazz scene before Motown started.If
you review many of the performers in jazz from 1930's to 1980's or so you will find a large percentage
of them from Detroit,or moved to Detroit to be involved in the jazz scene.Great read.