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Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture Hardcover – October 28, 2008

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Hardcover, October 28, 2008
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571211992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571211999
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,608,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a pleasing celebration of the most difficult of instruments, Gabbard, a professor of comparative literature and English at Stony Brook University in New York, sheds light on the history of the trumpet. He takes the instrument through the ages from ancient Egypt to the European royal courts, the American battlefield and the cutting contests by bebop jazz musicians. The astonishing stories of Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis—all American originals on the horn—merge with history, art, style and humor as this amateur trumpeter weaves into the colorful narrative large spoonfuls of film and literary references as well as personal observations. Gabbard also lists the long tally of serious physical ailments that dog trumpeters in classical and jazz music. Although this slightly eccentric book meanders a bit, it's never less than engaging and thought provoking in its insights and random chatter. (Nov.)
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“The trumpet is the quintessentially all-American musical instrument--the one whose clarion tones proclaim our national character--and Krin Gabbard's Hotter Than That, an engagingly written, admirably concise study of its place in American popular culture, goes a long way toward explaining why the trumpet and its best-known players have set down such deep roots in our collective imagination." —Terry Teachout

“Krin Gabbard's thoroughly absorbing and original account of the trumpet in jazz and American life--written with a disarmingly anecdotal ease that should be the envy of any writer--argues that this ancient brass instrument didn't achieve its true potential until it was taken up by African American musicians in the early years of the twentieth century. His argument is as entertaining as it is unassailable. I learned something from every page.”  —Gary Giddins

“What makes Hotter than That such an enjoyable read is that the author does many things very well in a comparatively short space. Hotter than That is a concise contemplation of the jazz trumpet from every angle: technological, cultural, historical, musical, artistic - and even psychological.  For the first time we have a highly-readable survey of the horn by an author who is both a superior researcher and a player himself, who knows the trumpet from the inside out.  Along the way he finds the time to profile the three most notable exponents of the jazz trumpet - Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis - at length, and to offer autobiographical insight from his own experiences with the horn. It's a fast-paced and rewarding read.”  —Will Friedwald, jazz critic for The New York Sun

“Krin Gabbard’s love of music, his passion for history, and his keen raconteur’s voice and ear all combine to create an extraordinary brass fantasia.  In Hotter Than That, Gabbard writes through jazz toward the wonder and complexity of human achievement, and with wit and grace, reminds us that through music, we can discover love, and through love, we discover the world.” —George E. Lewis,Case Professor of American Music, Columbia University

“This is the smartest book about a single musical instrument that I've ever read. Like Miles Davis, who attended Juilliard and apprenticed with Charlie Parker, Krin Gabbard turns his immense learning into lines that are quick, witty, and irresistibly alluring. How did the trumpet emerge as the first-chair instrument in jazz history? What is this beautiful horn's significance as an instrument of desire and romance? A triumph of the new jazz studies, Hotter than That is for all who play music (especially for all trumpeters), and for all who are yearning for an enriched understanding of what and how the music called jazz means.” —Robert G. O'Meally, author of Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday and founder of The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University

"Would jazz exist without the trumpet?  The instrument defines the art, as Krin Gabbard demonstrates in this revelatory book.  His instrument is an uncommonly keen, probing mind, and, with it, Gabbard redefines the art of jazz."—David Hajdu

“As he has done before, Krin Gabbard has written a book with a vision that is neither mine nor anyone elses's. It is more than unique or exotic. There is always substance to his overview and that substance brings authority, whether you agree with his point of view or not. We can say that of only a few of our writers: those who take actual chances.”—Stanley Crouch
“Amateur trumpet player Gabbard tells the story of how the trumpet came to be the alpha-male instrument of jazz. . . . Gabbard also delves into sexism in the jazz world. . . . this engaging and informative book goes well beyond a who’s who of jazz trumpet with thought-provoking discussions of jazz trumpet playing as an expression of freedom for African American musicians and as an expression of sexuality.” —Library Journal
“A witty history of the trumpet and the many meanings of its sound. . . . Gabbard isn’t afraid of touching on their less-than-attractive sides in order to demonstrate that when we fail to acknowledge jazz’s unsavory and gritty ingredients, we sacrifice appreciation of its full flavor. . . . Gabbard tells the history of his adopted instrument with a historian’s rigor and a comedian’s wit, scattering plenty of juicy anecdotes throughout.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A pleasing celebration of the “most difficult of instruments . . . and thought provoking in its insights and random chatter.” —Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Golden Rose on December 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book mixes jazz history, personal anecdote and cultural criticism to create a very readable and provocative history of the jazz trumpet. Gabbard's book will not replace the more detailed jazz histories on which he relies, but the reader will find interesting takes on the trumpet and black masculinity and the trumpet as the most difficult and painful instrument to play. A brisk history of trumpet-like instruments and a lively discussion of how today's trumpets are made are interspersed with chapters on Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis. Most other trumpeters get only brief mention. The reader looking for detailed discussions of musical movements, techniques and individual playing styles will be disappointed. But the book is full of interesting tidbits and anecdotes.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Laura D on July 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yeah, poor Buddy Bolden lost his mind and was put in the state hospital for the rest of his life (any discussion as to why? Nope.) And teenage Bix was a perv going after little girls, according to the prof, with a stuffy family who messed him up and never understood him.

This author sounds like a tabloid. Instead of getting the research facts straight (Bix was ACCUSED of that nastiness by the neighbor, but was never prosecuted, and most certainly was never known to have "possibly sexually approached other [little] girls" or arrested for it. So that's an untrue defamation. Also, the "legend" that Bix's records dutifully sent home to Mom and Dad were stuffed into a closet and never played is just that: a disgruntled friend who'd bickered with Bix's elder brother provided that story. In truth, Bix's parents were quoted to have enjoyed listening to their son Leon playing on the radio and recognizing his "perky blare" of cornet on the Whiteman program, and were very proud of his musical talent and hearing him performing.

Also, that wasn't a trumpet Bix played, Prof. It was a CORNET.

And Bix's first recordings were in 1924, not 1925.

Stop reading Ralph Berton's claptrap quasi-bio and digging up the stupid gossip from watching Ken Burns' garbage series he called "Jazz." Aren't you supposed to be a RESEARCHER?
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ROROTOKO on July 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Hotter Than That" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. Professor Gabbard's book interview ran here as a cover feature on December 26, 2008.
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