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From Harlem to Hollywood: My Life in Music

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1593934514
ISBN-10: 1593934513
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: BearManor Media (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593934513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593934514
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,588,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Grudens on August 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Van Alexander is a wonderful musician's musician who is loved by everyone including me. Here is a guy who's musical from morning til night...and he is 93 years young. Everytime I hear the Ella Fitzgerald recording " A Tisket-a-Tasket" cowritten by Van and Ella while she was the band singer with the Chick Webb band way back during the Big Band Era when Van was also writing charts for Benny Goodman and Ella, herself, during the thirties. The song became a mega-hit and holds up even today. It's like "White Christmas,"--- everyone knows the song. It was written in 1938. Van has put together a neat book about his 90 years in music, a career that found it's way to Hollywood where he began work as a bandleader and as an arranger for the cream of musicians and performers: Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Les Brown, Patty Andrews, Dinah Shore, Gordon MacRae, and television shows" I Dream of Jeannie," " the Donna Reed Show," " Dom De Luise Specials, the" Dean Martin Show," and Gene Kelly's Wonderful World of Girls" and many more. Van Alexander has done it all and the story is told in this terrific book. And, don't forget Beth, Van's wife of their whole life, she's also a part of this magical book along with her husband who is one of heroes of the music of your life and mine. Read this book. Take it to heart for it was written with heart. Richard Grudens
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John R. Tumpak on July 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
Van Alexander has led a fascinating personnel and professional life and at ninety four is still going strong. Alexander was born in Harlem and during the Big Band Era arranged for Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald before he started and led his own big band. In fact, his arrangement of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" made Webb and Fitzgerald famous in 1938. He moved to Hollywood after the War and carved out a legendary four decade career as an arranger and composer in radio, motion pictures, recording, and television garnering three Emmy nominations among his many awards. His story including all phases of his multifaceted life in music and the entertainment business is told in rich detail with distinguished jazz journalist Stephen Frattalone in his new book From Harlem to Hollywood My life In Music. Frattalone publishes the internet jazz magazine Jazz Connection and has written successful books on Del Courtney and Garry Stevens. Not to be overlooked are thirty eight pages of absorbing photos from Alexander's personnel collection that portray his life from childhood in New York to the present in Los Angeles. This book is definitely an enjoyable five star must read and an important contribution to both the history of the Big Band Era and American popular culture.

John Tumpak
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lenore C. Jacobs on April 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the life story of Van Alexander, the well-known Big Band arranger and conductor, as written by the same with help from Stephen Fratallone. In this book, Van describes his early interest in music and development as a musician, and his gradual rise from amateur band leader to arranger to his crowning achievement - conducting one of his own "charts" at Carnegie Hall. Along the way, with great wit and humor, he tells about his many triumphs and even a few misadventures. During a career that spanned 70+ years, Van Alexander wrote arrangements for Chick Webb and Bob Crosby and their bands, collaborated with Ella Fitzgerald on the hit that made her a star, formed and toured with his own band, published a book on music arranging, was the music director for a number of radio and television shows including The Dean Martin Show, wrote movie scores, and worked with dozens of well-known singers during the 1940s - 1960s on their recordings for Capitol Records. Van was also the music arranger-conductor for Gordon MacRae's special appearance performances, nightclub act, and concert programs. What I liked about the book is that although Van discusses hundred of people within the music industry that he met or worked with, he doesn't dish out the dirt on anyone. While he admits that certain individuals had personal problems or did things he didn't approve of, he doesn't sensationalize these incidents. He is just as quick to admit his own mistakes and, for the most part, has something complimentary to say about everyone he talks about. It's amazing all the people Van Alexander knew! His autobiography is a Who's Who of the Big Band Era! The book is well-written with good chronology, and very interesting. Throughout, the lesson learned from Van's life is never sit still; keep working, keep learning, keep trying to improve your skills, and continually set new goals for yourself to strive for. Van Alexander would be a great person to meet!
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