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Rhythm Is Our Business: Jimmie Lunceford and the Harlem Express (Jazz Perspectives) Paperback – December 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Jazz Perspectives
  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (December 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047203359X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472033591
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,297,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn I. Sears on January 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For more than a decade, from the mid-1930s until the late 1940s, Jimmie Lunceford's Orchestra (aka: the Harlem Express) was acknowledged as one of the leading jazz bands of the swing era. The group was famous for its rhythmic precision and "bounce," its rich sonority, its discipline and its impeccable showmanship. Musically, the Harlem Express did it all: toured the USA and Sweden, played radio gigs, clubs and dances, cut dozens of hit records. . . . Socially and politically, the Harlem Express dismantled racial barriers; Lunceford was one of the first black bandleaders to hire white musicians and composers, and his group played for black, white and desegregated audiences without discrimination. Jimmie Lunceford's band was highly regarded by musicians, critics and audiences, all of whom were stunned when Lunceford died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 45. As a tribute to their leader, the band tried to stay together, but the effort was short-lived; the group just wasn't the same without the leader who had molded and guided them for so long. When Lunceford died, the heart and soul of the Harlem Express died with him.

Rhythm is Our Business is Eddy Determeyer's painstakingly researched chronicle of the rise, peak and collapse of Lunceford's orchestra. Determeyer gathered his material from nearly five dozen interviews, and more than four dozen journals, newspapers and books. In addition to the endnotes and bibliography, Determeyer includes an extensive discography of the Harlem Express's recordings.

Determeyer traces Lunceford's early years in Oklahoma City and Denver and his college years at Fisk University.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Jazz on January 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although regarded as one of the greatest swing bands, Lunceford's orch somehow slipped through the cracks between the 40s and today. Lunceford's early death in 1947 age 45 years effectively ended the band - and his music is too often forgotten or relegated to a back seat when the swing era is assesed.

Eddy Determeyer has done a fine job in exploring Lunceford's life and times. He puts the "Harlem Express" into context, offering many insights into the man, music and surrounding circumstances. Drawing upon previously unpublished interviews (many of which were conducted by the author) as well as 'common' sources and his own analysis, Determeyer produced a very readable book that fleshes out this amazing man and his music. Highly recommended.
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By J. Pearl on January 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book relies too much on newspaper clippings that were little more than slightly revamped press releases. The author chose to emphasize the most sensational rumors about Lunceford's death, ones that were not substantiated by either the coroner's autopsy nor the recollections of some of the band's sidemen, including the two who took over the band following their leader's untimely demise. Lunceford's music and legacy are impressive enough without adding extra hyperbole. Lunceford was not the first black bandleader to hire white musicians, for example.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written, great music (really) and from what was said a great entertainer along with his band. sad ending though.
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