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Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances (Studies in Jazz) [Kindle Edition]

Thomas P. Hustad , Dan Morgenstern
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jazz trombonist Jack Teagarden once referred to Ruby Braff as the “Ivy League's Louis Armstrong.” That legacy of great trumpet performance and recording is brought to readers in Thomas Hustad’s Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances. Braff’s uncompromising standards, musical taste, and creative imagination informed his consummate artistry in creating music beautifully played. He achieved swiftly what few musicians accomplish in a lifetime by developing a unique and immediately recognizable style. For a reminder of that we need but play any of the more than 150 released recordings on which he appears. These records span a total of 54 years, from 1949 to 2002, a feat almost unmatched in jazz recording. This was five years longer than even Louis Armstrong.

Although prepared in discographical style, capturing information about both commercial recordings and previously undocumented performances,
Born to Play serves as a biography of the artist, detailing the path he paved as a performer and featuring personal recollections of his musical career with commentary from other figures. Images over the course of his half century of playing fill out this comprehensive survey of Braff's performing and recording career. This bio-discography of the man who jazz drumming legend Buddy Rich declared “one of my favorite trumpeters” and singing giant Tony Bennett described as “my great friend who now holds the reigning position of the best cornet player in the world” is sure to be of interest to jazz fans and scholars alike.

Editorial Reviews


In this discography of jazz trumpeter Ruby Braff (1927-2003), Hustad intends to make all of Braff's extensive recording history available in one easy-to-use resource. Braff is known for his unique style and for having one of the longest recording histories in jazz history—from 1949-2002. In that span of 54 years Braff played on more than 105 released recordings. The book is first and foremost a discography of Braff's commercial and undocumented performances, with many of the entries providing extensive annotations. The book also serves as a biography to Braff's life as it provides details of the musician's life as a performer and includes personal memories from others in the field. The 22 chapters are names to indicate various periods of Braff's life and career; for example, "Ruby's Growing Jazz Stardom," "Tony Bennett and the New York Club," and "Ruby's Final Tour: Honoring His Audience until the End." The work concludes with an appendix of album notes, and musician and song indexes. This volume is a valuable addition to this series and will be a worthwhile purchase for academic and large public libraries. (American Reference Books Annual)

A fascinating document, invaluable not only for those who regarded Ruby as one of the marvels of jazz — it is also a chronicle of one man’s fierce determination to create beauty in a world that sometimes seemed oblivious to it. Many large-scale works of scholarship are thorough but cold, and the reader feels the chill. Others have adulation intrude on the purpose of the work. Tom Hustad’s book is an ideal mixture of scholarship, diligence, and warm affection: its qualities in an admirable balance. I think the only way this book could have been improved would have been for Ruby to continue on past 2002 and the book to follow him. (Jazz Lives)

Hustad’s dedication to documenting the life and music of Ruby Braff has earned him a special place in the writing of jazz history. Yes, he gives us the facts, lots of them, but it is the picture that we find in Hustad’s commentary of this complex and uniquely talented man of principle whom he could truly call a friend that makes this volume special. Anyone with a taste for good music cannot help but be affected by the musical genius of Ruby Braff, and Hustad has gone a long way to making us understand that this was a man who had a lot of natural talent, but it was the inner forces that drove him to the top of his field.
(Jersey Jazz)

Born to Play is another noteworthy volume in the highly acclaimed Studies In Jazz series…Quite simply that means that this book meets all criteria as an authoritative jazz discography and reference work for all time. Personally I can say that since I have purchased this book I have spent many enjoyable hours checking my record shelves and searching for missing items on the internet. Recommendation-wise this one deserves 5 stars all around! (The IAJRC Journal)

As far as I know Tom Hustad’s book is unique in jazz literature. There have been famous and worthy attempts at day-by-day books on Goodman, Henderson and Ellington, but thanks to modern technology and Hustad’s assiduous pursuit of his subject, none to rival this one. Because everything about Ruby was so vivid, the book, read in conjunction with listening to his music, brings Ruby back to life in an almost supernatural way. (Jazz Journal)

Thomas P. Hustad’s exhaustive book attempts to document not only every known record date, but also every broadcast, private recording, performance and interview, a seemingly impossible task. The author also collected and reviewed many of the unissued performances. Hustad’s research includes interview transcriptions, excerpts of previously published reviews and articles, along with period advertisements for bookings, all meticulously footnoted. The result is a comprehensive, critical look at Braff’s career....Hustad’s book is not a fast read, but one that serious Ruby Braff fans will savor as they learn new facets of his career and seek out additional LPs, CDs and broadcasts featuring him that circulate among collectors. (The New York City Jazz Record)

Hustad’s book is much more than a compilation of recording session information and performance dates and locations, for interspersed with that data are biographical information, excerpts from reviews, and commentary by the author. For the Braff admirer — count me among them! — the volume serves not only as an essential reference but as a treasure house that provides immense pleasure and rewards in simply browsing in it. (W. Royal Stokes)

A glorious labor of love, this massive volume makes a substantial contribution to documenting the musical life of one too long absent from the history books. The work’s inclusive scope and the thorough research that went into its making are exemplary and deserve to be emulated by others involved in similar projects. It is hoped that the existence of this resource will inspire more to investigate Braff’s life and music. (Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal (ARSC Journal))

[Born to Play] is truly much more than a mere discography. It contains not only the dates and titles of all of Braff’s recordings, but lists all of the performances that the author found documented and includes passages from articles and reviews, too. Thus between prosaic lists of ensemble members and repertories emerges a portrait of a musician on the go, an extraordinarily active musician who not only performed with the great names in swing, but who also enjoyed competing with musicians from other genres. (Jazzinstitut Darmstadt)

[I]f you are a fan of Braff or even the mainstream really should pick up this work. It will give you many evenings of relaxed reading...The author, Tom Hustad, seems to have had the cooperation of Mr. Braff, certainly a feat in itself. In addition the author seems to have referenced and quoted from many interviews and press items of Braff. There are some wonderful stories here...This is just a wonderful bio-discography...It’s outstanding! (Cadence Magazine)

About the Author

Thomas P. Hustad is retired university professor. He was instrumental in the development of the world's leading association of new products professionals. He is listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World and received numerous teaching awards.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5336 KB
  • Print Length: 722 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (May 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087GZFFE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,750,564 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruby Braff - Born to Play by Thomas Hustad June 10, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This outstanding new book is a thoroughly detailed documentation of the 55 plus years musical career of Ruby Braff, the late jazz trumpet master. Born in 1927, Braff was one of a handful of second generation jazz musicians like Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern, Dick Wellstood and Ralph Sutton that earned top Jazz stature by continuing in the footsteps of their first generation predecessors such as Louis Armstrong, Bobby Hackett, Jimmie Noone, Benny Goodman and Fats Waller amongst several others. Like all of these Jazz greats, Ruby had a unique and immediately identifiable sound that was coupled with superb technique and phrasing. The resultant was an endless stream of musical creativity that unquestionably deserves an accounting in the history of Jazz recordings.
Professor Tom Hustad passionately has taken on the immensely challenging task of documenting Ruby's lengthy performing career. His scholarly tome clearly reflects many years of intense research that is factually supported and annotated throughout the volume. I have been a jazz record collector for over 50 years and I am simply amazed at the level of information amassed as well as how much hitherto undocumented information is brought to light. Ruby performed with a wide array of Jazz luminaries as well as popular artists and you certainly will be surprised at some of his musical encounters. As a Jazz discography, this book chronologically details all of Ruby's known recording sessions with dates and personnel where identifiable. Each session has a concise listing of all known issues in the various recording formats (LP, CD, Cassette etc.). Unissued material from these sessions is noted also and serves to whet the collector's appetite even more!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bio-Discography Supreme! June 6, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those of us that are endlessly fascinated by the tracking of an artist's recordings, discographies provide the foundation. And this bio-discography of Ruby Braff fits the bill magnificently.

Covering Braff's recording and performance career from the beginning to his last live offering, this tome documents in fine detail Braff's musical career in chronological order. Also included are the specifics regarding several unreleased recordings.

The text follows the template established by Russ Connor and his groundbreaking bio-discography of Benny Goodman.

Ruby was directly involved with the author in the research and preparation and authorized this effort.

If you love Ruby Braff, this work is absolutely essential and to be treasured.

Pat Goodhope
"Avenue C" Wednesdays 9 PM - 11PM Eastern
"In Mist" & "Scratchy Grooves" Second Sunday of each month 7PM - 11 PM Eastern
91.3 FM and
University of Delaware Public Radio
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruby Braff - Born to play June 26, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, written by Tom P. Hustad, is outstanding!
The attention to detail here, of both recordings & live dates, is staggering in its detail.
This immense labour of love is not just a discography, it also contains many interesting
tales of Ruby's musical experiences and opinions of fellow musicians.
Five stars in every way.
Strongly recommended.

by Peter, Warwick, England
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