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Verve: The Sound of America Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (November 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500517142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500517147
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.7 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“From the label that signed America’s jazz legends in the ‘50s and ‘60s, a look at the music, its stars and its continuing influence.” (People)

“Richard Havers focuses on key acts like Charlie Parker as well as lesser-knowns.” (Billboard)

“One of the more engrossing books on the history of jazz record labels. . . . does admirable work in exploring segregation and racial tension and provides brisk profiles of the generations of artists who recorded for the label.” (Sunday Denver Post)

“If someone made an important contribution to jazz, they were probably signed by Verve. . . . How there’s a new book by Richard Havers, ‘Verve: The Sound of America’ . . . which explores its rich heritage in vivid photographs and illustrations.” (Women's Wear Daily)

“A magnificent new release documenting the history of one of America’s greatest record labels. . . . Verve: The Sound of America captures the spirit of jazz, a quintessentially American genre of music. . . . for any fan of jazz music who would undoubtedly spend hours on end poring over this voluminous delight.” (Hip Hop is Read)

“A lovely and solid coffee table book. . . . Would make a great gift for anyone who likes jazz.” (The Nation)

“Havers documents and illustrates the history of one of our finest record labels.” (Broadway World)

“Will appeal to anyone interested in mainstream jazz and the graphic art that is spawned.” (Library Journal)

“Well worth acquiring for the priceless photos.” (LA Jazz Scene)

“Record covers are only a portion of VERVE: The Sound of America . . . but the collection hits all the right notes. It’s a fascinating portrait of [founder Norman] Granz, who fought a war against segregation through music, and of Verve artists. The studio and documentary photographs are a draw, but nothing can beat the covers for eye appeal.” (Steven Heller - The New York Times Book Review)

About the Author

Richard Havers is a consultant to Universal Music on jazz and has curated box sets including ​Louis Armstrong: Ambassador of Jazz and Ella Fitzgerald​: The Voice of Jazz. He has written extensively on the topic of 20th-century music and pop culture. His previous books include ​Verve, ​Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey, and ​Sinatra.​​​​​​​

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Many album covers included.
Dennis J. Pauly
Even the little things like font and the smooth paper stock help to accentuate the enormity of this book's substance and overall fantastic presentation.
Ivan Rott
It is a MUST BUY for just about anyone...but especially lovers of jazz and great American popular music.
F. Morris Rosman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Jefferson TOP 100 REVIEWER on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Without (Granz) there could have been no modern jazz, cool or turbulent." Nat Hentoff.
"Jazz came to America 300 years ago--in chains." Paul Whiteman.
"The whole reason for Jazz at the Philharmonic was to take it to places where I could break down segregation." Norman Granz.

Yes, I know this book is pretty expensive--but it's very well done. From the thick boards used for the covers (there's no jacket), to the many quality reproductions of photographs and album covers (in both color and b&w), to the paper stock and font, this is a quality book. And the text is intelligent, informative, and works well in conjunction with the graphics. Suffice to say, if you're a jazz fan and/or especially a fan of artists who've recorded for Norman Granz' labels (Verve, Clef, Nogran) you'll probably like this book.

Artists who've recorded for Granz include Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Ben Webster, Jimmy Smith, George Benson, Billie Holiday, Astrud Gilberto, Dizzy Gillespie, Wes Montgomery, and many more, both on stage and in the studio. And these artists and a number of others are represented here in this great book on Verve Records. Included are one page essays (with a full page photograph of that artist on the opposite page) of artists like Armstrong, Ellington, Holiday, Jacquet, Krupa, Lester Young, Nat King Cole, Flip Phillips, Parker, Hodges, and many more. Plus there's an essay on David Stone Martin (a personal favorite), who designed a number of iconic album covers which are highly collectable. A number of years ago a book was published on his artwork which I wish would be published again. His individual style was a good fit for jazz of the period.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dennis J. Pauly on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a beautifully put together book, well worth the price. Many album covers included. I am especially glad that many of the 10LP and 78 sets are also featured. While Verve was essentially a jazz label, I did miss the omission of albums by Jane Powell,
Dory Langdon and the cast albums from FUNNY FACE and RUGGLES OF RED GAP. But that is a minor quibble. I found it interesting that some of the 45 EP covers were included as well as the Columbia Record Club pressing of ELLA FITZGERALD SINGS THE GERSHWIN SONGBOOK. I love that cover.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on November 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful visual cornucopia for jazz fans of a certain age. I'm surprised that a book like this hasn't been published before considering the importance of Norman Granz to the politics of jazz let alone the stunning amount of the music he recorded. There was slightly similar book included with the ten CD PolyGram box set: 'The complete Jazz at the Philharmonic', released in 1998. That book was CD size with 224 pages with about seventy-eight devoted to Granz and JATP (the rest of the book was about the tracks and musicians).

This latest title, with four hundred pages, is a much more ambitious look at the man and his music. The first few pages have a quick overview about the origins of jazz then the pages come alive with a detailed description about the start of JATP and the various tours in the US and overseas during the forties and fifties. These are all annotated with dates, locations and musicians. The rest of the pages look at the various labels Granz ran. Two things break up the book's basic text: spreads with biographies with a page size photo of several dozen musicians; dozens of LP covers. I think it's safe to use the term 'jazz greats' for all those who have biographies here. For me the covers are one of the strengths of the book because they show the talent of David Stone Martin who probably did a few hundred covers for Clef, Norgran and Verve. He did the trumpet player illustration which is sort of a JATP logo. As well as the personality photos and LP covers there are plenty of other pictures and ephemera.

The book runs up to the late nineties (the last biography is for Diana Krall) and page 371 mentions Granz's ability to repackage the music via his Pablo label though he sold it to Fantasy in 1987.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By luvnglife on December 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Basically, the book is a history of the Clef/Norgran/Verve label and Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP), as expressed in a narrative full of pictures in the first 100 + pages. The approach is that of a coffee table book format (5 pounds), 400 pages, each page printed on heavy stock (no dust jacket) loaded with pictures of album covers, records, labels, programs, posters, etc. The many pictures of JATP included are ones I've never seen before as well as others that are more common. (One photo of JATP performers riding in a convertible in Japan is misdated 1963 instead of 1953, and possibly other such kinds of mistakes may exist.) About half the book is devoted to short bios of the significant players of the label with "key recordings" (get the pun?) usually 4 per performer. For example, Buddy Rich and Buddy DeFranco are two such bios (2 pages - one a picture from the JATP era and one a bio, which is the general approach for each performer.) JATP has a relatively comprehensive yearly itinerary through 1960 with exact dates and cities, some years more complete than others interlaced with historic narrative about JATP. So the book is basically broken into 3 parts: 1) history of the label, 2) history JATP, 3) bios of the major players - all generously illustrated with pictures of the players (some color but mostly b/w), labels, album covers, and records (mostly color) .
Question: Would I recommend this book? Yes. Positive point: the narrative throughout takes an overview/historic/chronological approach tieing everything together and giving it perspective. On the other hand, the bios are composed of information that can be found via many sources such as websites like Wikipedia, but with an accent of how the artist connected with Verve.
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