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Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond (Images of America) Paperback – June 7, 2010
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"One World Trade Center" by Judith Dupré
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Author: C.G. Niebank
Publisher: OK Gazette
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
Oklahoma History Center
2401 N. Laird
Anita Arnold had already written a couple of books about legendary jazz guitarist Charlie Christian and the Oklahoma City jazz scene in the Deep Deuce neighborhood as fundraisers for Oklahoma City's International Music Festival. She had already done research for Oklahoma author William Welge, whose thankful publisher then gave her copies of Welge's book for an additional fundraiser.
When those sold out, Arnold politely declined Arcadia Publishing's offer to provide additional books for fundraising. But some time later, an Arcadia representative called her again, offering copies of a new Arcadia title.
"They told me it was about Springlake Park," Arnold said, noting that the sales rep was unaware that Springlake Amusement Park had for years been a painful point of contention for many black city residents, who were excluded from the park as a result of lingering segregationist attitudes of its owners.
"I absolutely lost it and said, 'No, absolutely not!' and the guy was shocked and said, 'Well, I thought that was historical,'" Arnold said. "I said, 'It is, but the people I know do not want to conjure up any negative memories, and that was negative.'
"They were stunned that I blurted out how I felt, and then I said, 'I need to write a history book.'"
Much to her surprise, the sales rep told her that an editor would call to discuss just that.
"I was stunned. I thought they were talking because I was ranting," she said. "So I thought that ... the least I could do is look at the proposal."
Arnold was reluctant to get caught up in writing another book, and she dragged her feet returning the proposal, hoping Arcadia would lose interest.
"I finally filled out and sent their proposal back, and they got excited, and I thought, 'I was supposed to be getting rid of them,'" she said with a laugh. "Each time I sent them something, it went from 'good possibilities' to 'this is really pretty good' to 'this is good' to 'this is excellent.'"
Arcadia, which specializes in publishing photo-heavy local histories, informed Arnold that 180 to 240 images would be needed.
Having already tapped many local resources for illustrations for her previous books, Arnold asked friends and acquaintances to search scrapbooks, attics and basements for previously unpublished images. To her relief, many were uncovered.
"I went from one person, and they referred me to someone else, and on and on. I got several pictures from the Oklahoma History Center," she said. "This is new stuff -- these are pictures a lot of people haven't seen before."
Titled "Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond," Arnold's book traces 60 years of local music history, moving from the early days of jazz to the present day, including a full chapter about Christian, who went from Deep Deuce clubs to playing with jazz legends Count Basie and Benny Goodman before his tragic death at age 25 in 1942.
In conjunction with the 25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival, running through Sunday, Arnold will sign copies Saturday at the Oklahoma History Center.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
My own interest in Oklahoma began two decades ago with the search of one of Oklahoma's earliest and most prominent African American families, the Dunjees, specifically concert pianist, educator, newspaper woman and community activist Drusilla Dunjee Houston. My interest in Drusilla grew to include her father, Rev. John William Dunjee and her brother Roscoe Dunjee, editor of the Black Dispatch. I was thrilled to see Anita Arnold include Roscoe Dunjee in this work and recognize him as the "voice of the Deep Deuce" and premier archivist of Deep Deuce musical history.
Before going further, I apologize for the length of this review in advance because I couldn't resist adding to Anita's recognition of Roscoe Dunjee by sharing some of Roscoe's earliest recollections of African American music and dance in the Deep Deuce. In a review of his writings, Roscoe recounted music and dance life in 1890s Oklahoma shortly after his family arrived. In describing "early day society" Roscoe cited the Valentino Club as a place of black music where bands practiced on Seventh Street.
He described early dancers like "Frank Rogan, who was the most famous cake walker of the period. The cake walk was a sort of prancing movement executed in fox trot time." Roscoe wrote that "when young folk wanted just a small affair, they called on Frank Fields, a fiddler, and W.T. Tucker a banjo artist, who was also the Undertaker.Read more ›
oklahoma city-okla-THE DEEP DEUCE.THE HEART
OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY.JAZZ and
BLUES...some very famous sons and daughters....
This book serves as an extraordinary document of
relevant entertainment and cultural facts of OKLA
PRODUCED GREAT MUSICIANS--THE INFLUENCE
OF ICONS that
VIBRATED thru FUTURE GENERATIONS.
sessions & street partys...the seeds of MUSIC.+
^^ the area MADE HISTORy ^^
*every one should BUY the IMAGE books that r
about..YOUR home towns*
bp okc 64
If, like me, you are not from - nor have ever visited - Oklahoma City, you might not realize that this was the home of the original jazz band, the Blue Devils. They later moved to Kansas City and that's where Count Basie joined them and eventually the Blue Devils became the Count Basie Band.. There were other OC natives such as Walter "Hot Lips" Page and blues singer Jimmy Rushing (who sang with the Basie band for years).
The most important musician to come from OC was jazz guitarist Charlie Christian (who later joined Benny Goodman and then died all too early in life.). This is one of the strongest parts of this book. There are more than 20 (of the total of 126) pages devoted to Christian with lots of rare photos from the archive of Leo Valdes, a Christian collector. You'll also see photos of Charlie's musical brother, Edward. (His other brother apparently was not in the music business).
The second half of the book features local rock band and church choirs whose name recognition stayed within the local OC community. I'm sure folks who grew up in the OC are will recognize them, and find this historic photos bringing back memories.
Jazz fans may want to pick this up for the Christian section alone.
"Zelia N. Page is shown in this early-1920s photograph in front of the first Douglass High School, located on East California Avenue, with her all-male high-school band. Page also served as a musical advisor for many churches and clubs in a four-state area. In 1952, the famous Zelia Page Breaux was named chairwoman of the music committee for the national NAACP meeting ..."
"Maurice Miles, a photographer and visual artist in Oklahoma City, took this photograph of Deep Deuce in the 1950s." (The photo in question shows a street lined with 1960s and 1970s automobiles.)
The biggest issue, though, is that the book assumes that the reader already has a great deal of knowledge about Deep Deuce, about Black life in Oklahoma in the early 20th Century, and about blues, jazz and their history. If you do, then there are a number of interesting photos in the book. if you don't, then you'll find page after page of pictures of unfamiliar people, with offhand references to locations or events that are never explained.
Not recommended except as a supplement.