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Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice Hardcover – October 17, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“This book is a valuable addition to the jazz literature.”
(Norman Vickers The Jazz Society Of Pensacola 2011-11-17)

“[A] diligently researched biography. . . . [Hershorn] meticulously documents the personnel and songs played at many concerts and recording dates.”
(David Lander Stereophile 2012-04-01)

“An impressively researched, detailed, and highly readable account of . . . one of the most significant non-musicians in jazz.”
(Blue Light 2012-04-01)

From the Inside Flap

“The JAZZ AT THE PHILHARMONIC concerts were a turning point in my life. My fellow Californian Norman Granz figured it out. This biography lays out, in impressive detail and insight, the incredible contribution of Mr. Granz to the world of music and art. The deed of the vast recordings of ART TATUM says it all.” —Clint Eastwood

“Norman Granz was one of the most important people in the world of jazz. He did more to escalate respect for jazz and raise our salaries than anybody else. He absolutely loved jazz and jazz musicians. I’m honored to have shared a beautiful friendship with Norman for many, many years. Hopefully, with this incredible book by Tad Hershorn, the world will have a chance to learn about Norman, and his phenomenal contribution to our beloved music—jazz.”—Clark Terry, author of Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry

“Tad Hershorn’s Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice is a relentlessly readable, rigorously researched, deeply empathic portrait of the complex and heroic man who was arguably the greatest champion of this great American art form—and its great artists. Essential reading for anyone who loves jazz.” —James Kaplan, author of Frank: The Voice

“Norman Granz was renowned as a vivid force in jazz history, both as a producer of invaluable classic recordings by many of the music’s most original performers and also for his world-wide, all-star Jazz at the Philharmonic tours. Moreover, he broke the color line dividing jazz audiences by mandating the end of segregated seating his continually popular concerts. Yet until this magisterial, deeply researched biography of Granz by Tad Hershorn, there has been no full-scale inside account of the achievement and combats of this often larger-than-life personality who, without playing an instrument, was so swingingly instrumental in making jazz an international language.” —Nat Hentoff, author of At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene

“Norman Granz, one of the most significant non-musicians in jazz history, took gutsy public stands but remained a private person. Tad Hershorn's years of dedicated research reveal the man behind the lasting legacy, on which he sheds new light as well.. This great American story is a must read—and not just for jazz fans!” —Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz

“Norman Granz was an institution in jazz. He was loved by some, hated by others, often controversial, and always fearless. But Granz was also elusive and, until now, sometimes came across as more symbol than man. Tad Hershorn has changed all that in this stunning, beautiful biography of the music's most relentless advocate of social justice.” —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

“Norman Granz was an important man, and Tad Hershorn tells his story with a fearless compassion grounded in yeoman research. Imperious, vain, and rude, Granz was also generous, inventive, and brave. He fought valiantly for jazz and civil rights, made pots of money, and never failed to bet it on his passions and beliefs. If you do not know him, you couldn't ask for a better introduction than Hershorn's judicious portrait; if you think you do know him, you are in for more than a few surprises.” —Gary Giddins, author of Visions of Jazz

"You're probably smarter than you present yourself." —Norman Granz to author, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 488 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (October 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520267826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520267824
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Terrance Crooms on October 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Author & Jazz archivist Tad Hershorn tells the story of top Jazz producer Norman Granz (1918-2001), whose social conscience was instrumental in earning African American musicians fair pay and equal treatment. Tad personally interviewed Mr. Granz on several occasions before his death in 2001. This book tells an intimate story of a man who was a pioneer in civil rights simply because of his love for Jazz music & the artist involved. Tad's archivist expertise comes into play as the book is chock full of pictures highlighting Norman Granz's career over the years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Jefferson TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hardcover. Forward by Oscar Peterson. 14 page Prologue, 377 pages of text including an Epilogue, 4 page Chronology of Granz' life, 12 page Selected Bibliography, plus notes and an Index. There's also 16 pages of b&w photographs of Granz throughout his life. One great shot is of Granz and Pablo Picasso (Granz posed for Picasso several times-there's a portrait of Granz included) playing ping-pong. Another is an informal portrait of Granz in front of a drawing by Picasso of Ella Fitzgerald.

"Even half asleep, I love and appreciate you. Thanks very much. Ella." Ella Fitzgerald's telegram to Norman Granz in Paris.

Norman Granz is perhaps best known as the creator of the legendary Jazz At The Philharmonic series of concerts, and as the founder of the Verve records label. Anyone who listens to jazz to any extent will be familiar with his name. Granz produced and/or recorded many of the jazz stars whose music is still revered today.

But what most people don't know is that, along with presenting the very best in jazz, Granz also fought stubbornly for racial equality wherever he was in the world. He presented nothing but the best jazz artists, and felt they should be treated as the stars they were. And in the time period covered in this book, that was a difficult thing to do-both here in the U.S., and in Europe. Granz once commented (while on tour in Germany) on the fact that the Nazis had lost the war, yet they wouldn't treat Black musicians on an equal basis with Whites. And that's just one instance in this fine book on Granz' stance for equality. He never waivered when it came to the music he loved-he sought out only the best musicians he could find. And his commitment to racial equality was just as intractable.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James A. Vedda on April 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hershorn has managed to write a highly engaging and well-documented biography even though his subject vacillated on whether he wanted his life examined in this way. Readers may vacillate as well, on whether or not they find the enigmatic Granz to be likeable. He could be uncommonly generous, giving expensive gifts (sometimes including luxury cars) to people he favored or sending money to musicians who were having health or financial problems. He could also be arrogant, abrupt, chauvinistic, and dismissive. He was a gourmet who would think less of someone because they sought out a good burger rather than a fine French restaurant.
Regardless of likeability, readers will certainly find Granz respectable. He was true to his convictions, especially racial equality, even when his moral commitment resulted in financial loss. Starting in the 1940s, he broke new ground in the integration of jazz performances and equal pay and accommodations for the performers. In the process, he was one of the driving forces in expanding jazz from small nightclubs to major concert halls.
The cast of characters is a who's who of jazz from the 1940s-80s, which is a delight for longtime jazz fans but may be a bit daunting for newcomers who will struggle to keep up with the namedropping. Fortunately, many great artists play big roles in the story, and we gain significant insights on their lives and careers. Among them are Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Nat Cole, Lester Young, and Coleman Hawkins.
Granz was also an art collector, and had a friendship with Pablo Picasso during the last few years of the artist's life. One chapter is devoted to this facet of Granz's character.
There's plenty to be learned here about jazz history, the civil rights struggle in America (and to a lesser extent, Europe), and the devotion of one man to a musical art form for which he perhaps did more than any other non-musician.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reader on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This biography brought out the many facets of Norman Granz for the first time for me. Having listened to several of the albums he produced at Verve and having read reviews of some of the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts he organized and managed, I was aware of him. However this full-length biography provides the context for those aspects of his career, and demonstrates the impact his work has had on both jazz music and the larger American culture and society.

The author has had access to considerable information about Granz and his relationships with the musicians whose careers he supported. Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum are the ones with whom he interacted most closely, but many others are included.

The author explains Granz's views on social issues, notably integration, and what Granz did to put his views into practice.

Almost every page of the biography is illuminating.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well, actually, it's much more than a biography.
It's Civil Rights history.
It's music history.
It's jazz history.
Beautifully researched - and true in-depth look at Norman
Granz (the Jazz Impressario and manager of Ella Fitzgerald)
and his impact on the world.
A MUST READ for music fans, jazz fans and history fans.
Highly recommended.
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