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Jazz books

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Posted on Feb 4, 2013 3:37:25 PM PST
I bought "Carmen McRae. Miss Jazz" by Leslie Gourse who has authored several more books on jazz including biographies of Monk and Sarah Vaughan.

Posted on Jan 20, 2013 2:18:57 PM PST
I bought the children's book, "Piano Starts Here. The Young Art Tatum" by Robert Andrew Parker. Why? Because Andrew is a world renowned artist and illustrator and a jazz drummer, a not totally unique combination of talents but nearly so. His illustrations for this book are just brilliant. His next book will be about Chick Webb. I am also a collector of children's books when the illustrator is especially skillful so this book was right up my alley. Check out his work by Googling him.

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 5:31:48 AM PST
I bought:- "The Playboy Guide to Jazz" by Neil Tesser, the Chicago jazz critic whose writing is very informed. This book was published by Plume Books, a subsidiary of Penguin Books, a very large publishing firm as you may be aware. Despite this being a reference book, the paper has begun to discolour badly as have other books published by Penguin in the jazz reference field. Black mark Penguin for using just about the cheapest paper available.
I also bought:- "Autobiography of a Traveling Musician" by Martin Taylor.
"Just for a thrill" by Lil Hardin Armstrong.
"Chasin' the Bird" by Brian Priestly and
"Latin Jazz" a novel by Virgil Suarez.

Posted on Dec 7, 2012 3:08:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012 12:49:14 PM PST
I bought a copy of the 1987 publication, "Jazz the Essential Companion" by Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather and Brian Priestly who are all British musicians. Whilst there is (inevitably) some duplication of data with other volumes on the subject, there is a much wider focus on European and Japanese musicians that American publications usually do not provide. The writers are all very knowledgeable on the subject so already I feel that I made a wise investment.

Posted on Nov 10, 2012 6:40:23 AM PST
I think that Ted Gioia is one of the more respected writers on the topic. I'm still in thrall with Whitney Balliett and am picking up everything that he wrote. I cannot recommend him highly enough as a writer about the music with both a deep knowledge of and love for the music. But, I will pick up the Gioia's "The Jazz Standards" at some point when I've acquired a complete Balliett library.

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 6:02:17 PM PST
The following book by Ted Gioia just arrived and will be a truly fascinating read.

The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire

I've only read the first three of 250 entries, and am listening to several recommended recordings of Airegin, after exploring After You've Gone and Ain't Misbehavin'. Looking forward to some great listening and learning about some of the finest songs in the history of jazz.

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 5:48:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012 12:53:12 PM PST
I'm thoroughly enjoying Whitney Balliett's "56 Portraits in Jazz". He writes about jazz with insight and a very apparent deep love for the music and the musicians who play it. And, he has a rare command of the English language that few writers about jazz ever achieve and that allows him to paint word pictures that reach out to his readers and that I would aspire to match if I could. I think that somewhere in England I have a copy of one of his other books, "Dinosaurs in the Morning" but I'm going to get everything else that he has written. Whitney passed at the age of 80 and jazz was the poorer for his leaving. But, his written legacy is a fitting memorial of his having been here.
Postscript:- I've just bought two other S/H books of his through Amazon both in "as new" condition. I don't want scruffy, uncared for books on my shelf no more that I want scratched, crackly LP's. I will accept a little dilapidation on rare 78's, but not too much!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 12:32:19 AM PDT
You are correct!!

Posted on Sep 10, 2012 2:03:42 PM PDT
BeBop says:
Two autobiographies I'd recommend:
- Hampton Hawes' - Raise Up Off Me
- Mezz Mezzrow's - Really the Blues.

They seem pretty unsanitized. There's some "embellishment", but all in the name of a good story.

Second: Art Pepper's Straight Life.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 6:09:24 AM PDT
I believe the Dizzy book's title is "to Be...".

Posted on Sep 9, 2012 2:21:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012 12:51:31 PM PST
This week, I picked up:-
"56 Portraits in Jazz" by Whitney Balliett.
"To Be or not to Bop" Dizzy Gillespie and Al Fraser &
"The Autobiography of Pops Foster New Orleans Jazzman as told to Tom Stoddard.

Posted on Aug 13, 2012 8:26:30 AM PDT
I have just acquired "The Jazz Record Book", one of the first books that attempted to recommend the best of the jazz records that were available at the time of publication, 1942.
Co-authored by four guys, two of whom Charles Edward Smith and Frederick Ramsey Jnr. had already found fame by publishing the truly excellent book, "Jazzmen", in 1939, the book goes into the early history of the music before getting into the meat, the record reviews. Well-written and fascinating for anyone interested in pre-1940 jazz.

Posted on Aug 4, 2012 1:24:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2012 1:34:36 PM PDT
I am currently reading the following book, which just arrived:

Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances (Studies in Jazz)

The book runs 681 pages and is a biographical discography with a history of all of Ruby's known performances, including many performances that were not commercially recorded. It is an absolute delight, representing unbelievable research by the author, Tom Hustad.

The forward to the book, written by Dan Morgenstern states the following: "It was after an Arbors record date in New York in the summer of 2000 that Ruby took on a booking at an intimate New Jersey jazz spot, Shanghai Jazz, with a quartet including the veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. I was lucky to be there, for Ruby played like an angel."

This booking was actually a private, invitation only affair during an afternoon when the club was not normally open for business. We were fortunate to have been in attendance, at the invitation of Mat Domber, owner of Arbors records. There were probably a couple of dozen people in the audience, and I remember there was an excellent "free" Chinese buffet provided. Ruby did indeed play like an angel that afternoon, and we all had a wonderful time.

It is unfortunate that many contributors to this forum never had the opportunity to hear Ruby live. His music probably does not appeal to many of you. However, we were very fortunate to have known him and to have heard him play in person many times. I believe we own almost all of his recordings, and will certainly be looking to enhance our listening pleasure as we read this wonderful book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 6:17:54 AM PDT
Jerlaw says:
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Posted on May 31, 2012 8:20:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2012 8:22:00 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
I knew I'd forgotten something I just picked up....

Some years ago, I found, at the local library, a cd set (audio book) narrated by the author, John F. Szwed, a professor of anthropology, African and African-American studies, music and American studies at Yale U. Admittedly, it took some getting used to because, as an audio book, it didn't promise what some other music cd's/tapes often offer, i.e., lecture followed by audio examples. I'm sure one of the reasons it didn't was the difficulty in getting permission to publish anything with snippets of performances and the cost if such permission is given. Still, even without the audio, it was a very good overview of the history of jazz. The other day, I found the book itself at another library. It was on sale for $2. Copyright 2000. I'm glad that both are part of my jazz collection.

Oops. I knew I forgt something. The name of the book and the audio book is JAZZ 101 - A COMPLETE GUIDE TO LEARNING AND LOVING JAZZ by John F. Szwed.


In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 3:02:58 PM PDT
Jerlaw says:
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Posted on May 30, 2012 1:16:55 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
@ JJ

Thanks for the ideas....I was already going to look for the McRae book. I love books that list worthy albums to consider.

I once was at the Main Public Library in Cleveland, scanning a stack of music mags for record reviews....jotting down albums/artists that seemed promising for further investigation. I guy who'd been nosing around saw me with the stack and I told him I had most of the mags on the table and he should take what he wanted.....I was scanning reviews. He replied, rather snottily, "I don't let anyone tell ME what to listen to!". I was tempted to telll him that if he used ANY method other than dartboard or picking blindfolded from a record bin you WERE letting others decide, somewhat, by listening to music on the radio and picking from those. How many albums/singles released were NEVER played on a given station? Most stations create their own playlists and everything else is never played. It is quite difficult to be completely independent from anyone's opinion. Why would I want to be? I AM the final arbitor always. They love it, I may not and vice versa. I'm looking for possibilities not decisions. I make my own.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 12:55:30 PM PDT
Jerlaw says:
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In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 12:28:41 PM PDT
Jerlaw says:
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Posted on May 30, 2012 12:17:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2012 12:45:09 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
Since I'm a bit lacking on bios of jazz musicians, I thought I'd take this opportunity to list the jazz books I do own....

THE WORLD OF COUNT BASIE - Stanley Dance (1980)

This book includes 23 bios of the personal and professional lives of some of the most influential jazz musicians, many of whom were part of the avant-garde. Ullman includes interviews, technical evaluations of each persons musical style and record reviews.

THE JAZZ LIFE - Nat Hentoff (1961)
A fascinating and revealing glimpse into all of the hidden tensions, challenges, and victories which shape the life of the jazz musician in his special world

THE STORY OF JAZZ - Marshall W. Stearns (1956)

JAZZ - IT'S EVOLUTION AND ESSENCE - Andre Hodeir (1956/61)

IN THE MOMENT - JAZZ IN THE 1980'S - Francis Davis (1986)


THE FREEDOM PRINCIPLE - JAZZ AFTER 1958 - John Litweiler (1984)

JAZZ - Nat Hentoff/Albert J. McCarthy (1959)
New Perspectives on the History of Jazz by 12 of the World's Foremost Jazz Critics and Scholars

JAZZ ON RECORD - A HISTORY - Brian Priestley (1991)
A discography of seminal works and a discussion of how the recording process and business has changed the shape of jazz.

I should note that this originally came with a Jazz Classics cassette/cd with 26 historic recordings and a Jazz Styles Cassette/cd with 171 demonstratiions of jazz sounds and methods. I bought it used from the library without these but the book is beneficial as an introductory text to jazz. It includes 21 guides to listening to classic recordings.

THE ESSENTIAL JAZZ RECORDS - VOLUME ONE - RAGTIME TO SWING - Max Harrison/Charles Fox/Eric Thacker (1984)


THE ROLLING STONE JAZZ RECORD GUIDE - Edited by John Swenson (1979.1985)

THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ ON CD, LP & CASSETTE - Richard Cook/Brian Morton (1992)

JAZZ-ROCK FUSION - THE PEOPLE . THE MUSIC - Julie Coryell/Laura Friedman (1978)

THE HARMONY ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JAZZ - THIRD EDITION - Brian Case/Stan Britt (Revised and Updated by Chrissie Murray) (1978/1987)

A CENTURY OF JAZZ - Roy Carr (1997/2004)


THE BOOK OF JAZZ - FROM THEN TILL NOW - Leonard Feather (1957/1976)
(This one seriously needs replacing due to use/abuse....among other things, Leonard traced the development of each instrument in jazz and its main players....also chapters on jazz vocalists, small combos, big bands and composers/arrangers. Back when I was getting my feet wet, it was an great source for the development of the music by its players.

Of course, like most people, I have some music books that are not genre specific. Those all have sections on jazz and its development.

I should mention that, like my record collection, I seldom buy new or full price. If I did, I'd be broke (wait, I AM broke). This is one of the reasons I used to frequent used book and records stores. (I tend to let my fingers do the walking more these days). A lot of my rock books are falling apart thru use/abuse. I was happy to note that only the Feather book needs replacing. here I come....


Posted on May 30, 2012 12:10:56 PM PDT
I'm still reading "Singing Jazz" by Bruce Crowther and Bruce Pinfold. This is a very well researched book that touches on everything that might be loosely related to singing jazz from blues through to gospel and popular, musicianly singers like Sinatra and Peggy Lee. It's really a "must-have-on-your-bookshelf" for anyone remotely interested in jazz singing and jazz singers. Lots of anecdotes and quotes from well-known vocalists in and out of jazz. My only beef is, whilst giving due recognition to Thomas A.Dorsey and the great influence that he was on gospel singing, the authors insist on lumping gospel and spirituals together as one genre which is clearly not the case. But, that's a minor carp. I'm learning a lot from this book and enjoying the journey through its pages. Bought at a knock-down price through Amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 7:24:56 AM PDT
Jerlaw says:
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In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 7:20:58 AM PDT
Jerlaw says:
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In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 7:15:47 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 1:44:59 AM PDT
Brian says:
Susan, I had a similar "slow going" experience while reading a book about classical pianists.
For those interseted in classical music - Reflections from the Keyboard: The World of the Concert Pianist, Second Edition.
I recently finished Fade to Blue: An Evan Horne Mystery. I like Moody's style for an easy read andI have read most of the "Evan Horne" series.
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Jazz forum
Participants:  28
Total posts:  87
Initial post:  Nov 12, 2007
Latest post:  Feb 4, 2013

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