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The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop Hardcover – May 28, 2013


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The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop + Jazz 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz + If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520243919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520243910
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ramsey's second book (after Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop) aims to understand "one of jazz's greatest and indeed most mysterious stars" from a variety of perspectives. He takes in bebop—from East to west and back West again—with consideration given to the social, political, and economic contexts of its day, as well as the concept of the free-spirited, convention-defying "musical genius" (in Ramsey's view "the ultimate construction of the bourgeois subject"). It is a lot to take on in such a brief book and Ramsey doesn't quite pull it off. His tendency to quote in full—often unnecessarily—and his occasional isolation of mundane details drain energy from his subjects. For instance, the author makes fine observations on how "the jazz industry" of the '40s and '50s took advantage of Black musicians, but then goes into no further detail about just how Powell's life and work were affected. What starts as an engaging criticism winds down into a pedestrian biographical observation with admirable but unrealised ambitions; it's jarring, and by trying to say a lot, results, inversely, in not saying enough. (June)

Review

"Ramsey writes with a musician's ear. . . . Full of beauty and that edgy logic."
(John Mole The Times Literary Supplement 2013-06-14)

"An important, thoughtful work for those wishing to probe beyond cliches."
(DownBeat 2013-09-01)

"Equal parts biography, historiography, and music analysis, Ramsey’s brilliant study represents a much-needed examination of one of jazz’s most influential pianists and artists."
(Notes 2014-09-01)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those interested in the great American art form of jazz will want to add this book to their libraries. For those with an interest in the pianist Bud Powell it is essential reading. Musicologist Guthrie Ramsey has penned a deeply knowledgable and original piece of scholarship on this seminal jazz pianist. The books looks not only at Powell's musical innovations, but also examines his formative musical and personal background and the context in which his innovations were shaped.

Using a deft and engaging wrting style that will engage both lay readers, jazz aficionados and academics alike, Ramsey has penned an indispensable and seminal book.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By H. Jones on November 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book. It not only tells the story of Bud Powell, but puts that story in context so that the reader is fully immersed in the world of the time. Bud Powell had many "deficiencies," but though those complicated his life, his genius as a musician is fully recognized here and the difficulties he had to contend with are made plain. Jazz students today should study what musicians lived through in the mid-20th century to understand the struggle that preceded them, and celebrate the lives of musicians like Bud Powell.
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