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Jazz books


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Initial post: Nov 12, 2007 4:12:37 PM PST
Torch says:
Does anyone know any really good jazz biographies?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2007 7:33:07 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 12, 2007 7:36:32 PM PST
stevign says:
Hey Torch, how ya doing buddy?....I might know a couple.

Art Pepper's autobiography "Straight Life":
An absolute must! (I'm buying it with my next order).

"The Art Pepper Companion":
The great thing about this one is; while you are listening to the album, you can read about the making of it and all that was going on with, and around him at the time.

"Reading Jazz" A Gathering of Autobiography, Reportage, and Criticism from 1919 to Now. by Robt. Gottlieb.
This has great stories, and the rest of the title pretty much tells it all.

"Follow The Music" The Life and Times of Elektra Records in the Great Years of American Pop Culture. by Jac Holzman and Gavin Daws.
At nineteen years old, and a few hundred dollars, Jac started his own record label, and called it Electra.
It was (at 1st) primarily a "Folk" label, he knew everyone, he damn near signed everyone. Paul Butterfield Blues Band to the Doors to Fred Neil to Tim Buckley, this has got to be one of the most fun books I've ever read about musicians! Even though this book is not about Jazz, I hear people on these discussion groups, be they Jazz, Rock, or Blues, talk about or blame "Companies" for all kinds of things that go wrong with an artist. This is an "education" of what it's "really" like on the inside. And it's one hell of a ride!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2007 7:33:28 AM PST
J. Strid says:
Not a biography, but many biographical stories (both true and embelished) and a really funny read is Bill Crow's "Jazz Anecdotes" on Oxford. If you are interested in learning about the musicians and their sense in jazz history, what better place to start then the stories people tell about them?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2007 8:18:25 AM PST
Saxman says:
I'm a fan of autobiographies and biographies - a few that I've read and enjoyed are:
-Miles Davis
-BB King
Chasin' the Trane is a nice biography that follow Coltrane's life chronologically. I'll have to put the Art Pepper auto on my list with Johnny Cash.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2007 9:52:11 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2007 9:53:16 AM PST
Robert Payne says:
I agree with Stevign about "Straight Life" by Art Pepper It's the best jazz biography or autobiography I have ever read. Ashley Kahn's recent books about the making of "Kind of Blue" and " A Love Supreme" are two very good books I have read recently. As much as I love Blue Note Records, I was disappointed with Brian Cook's book about the label.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2007 10:11:54 AM PST
willm says:
Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn by David Hajdu

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2007 1:21:02 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2007 1:21:37 PM PST
Leo Scanlon says:
Possibly the best jazz book I ever read is Richard Sudhalter's "Lost Chords: White Musicians and their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945." Someone is bound to say it's a racist book, since it covers only white musicians, but they'd be wrong. Sudhalter -- a musician (cornet) of some renown himself -- concentrates on white artists because, in his opinion, their contributions have been overlooked.

I've read this book twice and it's led me to investigate musicians and groups that I knew little or nothing about, such as The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, The Original Memphis Five, and trumpet player Jack Purvis. It also gave me better insight into people like Benny Goodman, the Dorseys, Bix Beiderbecke, Artie Shaw, and Jack Teagarden. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Leo

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2007 8:34:01 AM PST
Robert Payne says:
I like whim's choice. Hajdu's book about Billy Strayhorn is excellent. I learned more about Duke Ellington, the man, than I ever have in any of the books written about him.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2007 3:40:50 PM PST
I've read several books on jazz, jazz players, and jazz history. I have to agree that "Jazz Anecdotes" is a great place to start. You'll get to know names, instruments and incidents. Another great book, which I bought on Amazon, by the way, is "Reading Jazz" ( a fine play on words) Edited by Robert Gottlieb. The subtitle is " A gathering of autobiography, reportage and criticism, from 1919 to now." It's kind of a grown up version of "Jazz Anecdotes".

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2007 4:59:10 PM PST
stevign says:
Richard:

I already mentioned "Reading Jazz", but I'm glad that you have it, and like it. It's well worth being mentioned twice!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2007 8:49:55 PM PST
Lost Chords is a really important book. Very through and interesting take on jazz history.

You might find the book, " More than a Fake Book," pretty interesting. It is both a collection of Mingus tunes and a biography.

Actually, I understand Mingus's biography, Life of the Underdog, or something like that is pretty good.

If you can find it, "Four Lives in the Be Bop Business" is a good read and interesting history.

So is Leroi Jones' ( Amiri Baraka) book on jazz, "Blues People." It is part of the radical re-writing of history that took place in the 60's. so, you need to read it both as history and as politics, but there are some interesting insights.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2007 10:12:43 PM PST
Jasper says:
Leo and Kenneth:

I'm so glad to see people read "Lost Chords" and listed it here. I basically stopped by to list the book myself. Richard M. Sudhalter's grasp of language, grasp of history, and grasp of music is astounding. This may be one of the best-written books of ANY TYPE I've ever encountered.

I'll also throw in a mention of Will Friedwald's fascinating, informative, and often hilarious ode to jazz singing, entitled "Jazz Singing: America's Great Voices from Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond." It's a joy to read, and just might turn you on to a number of artists you hadn't known of or properly investigated.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2007 6:24:37 AM PST
M. Murphy says:
auto/biographys- Definitely Strait Life[Pepper], Coltrane[2] Porter and Ratliff both excellent. Also interesting to read Miles auto biography vs. his biography[ Milestones[Chambers].
Other excellent "jazz books" generally anything by Gary Giggins and The Jazz Tradition by Martin Williams. A quick read of mini-stories,thoughts on a couple of dozen jazz giants.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2007 10:11:35 AM PST
Jasper says:
Probably the best portrait of a jazz musician I've read...one that read like a novel, is Laurence Bergreen's "Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life." Bergreen isn't much of a writer with regards to the finer points of music, but it really DOESN'T MATTER. This is not only likely to be the richest, most evocative portrait of Louis Armstrong's life you ever read, it is also one of the most fascinating evocations of the New Orleans of the early 20th century that I've come by. It more or less puts you into a spell, and you simply go along for the ride.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2007 2:23:08 PM PST
stevign says:
Jasper:

Yeh, what he said! LOL
Seriously, I really enjoyed it. Great book.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2007 8:33:02 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2007 9:19:31 PM PST
For addicts of west coast jazz such as I,
the book of the same name, (West Coast Jazz)
is required reading. It has so many inside
stories that one really gets to know the
musicians I love the most. At the end it
has a buying guide for those just discovering
this beautiful art form.
Does anyone have a copy of Robert Gordon's
book with a similar title, "Jazz West Coast?"

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2007 10:21:01 AM PST
Mark Levine says:
Ben Ratliff's new bio of Coltrane
John Szwed's SPACE IS THE PLACE, a masterful bio of an elusive, even alien, subject, Sun Ra
And, though not a bio, The Thelonious Monk Reader (ed. van der Bliek)
Some of the vignettes in Geoff Dyer's BUT BEAUTIFUL, though fictionalized, are splendid

Posted on Nov 1, 2011 1:05:20 PM PDT
For anyone interested, there is a new book out on the Miles Davis Quintet 1965-1968. It's published by Sony Music but I don't have any author credits.

Posted on Nov 3, 2011 5:03:21 AM PDT
Has anyone had a chance to read: Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin D. G. Kelley??

I've been wanting to read it, but haven't found the time yet. If you've read it, I'd be interested to hear how it was. Thanks!!

Posted on Nov 3, 2011 4:37:39 PM PDT
bluejim says:
Perhaps I'm shallow but I'm having a hard time slogging through Kelley's book on Monk. Unquestionably, Monk deserves our admiration for overcoming all the obstacles he faced in order to bring us great art. But the vibe I get from this book at about the half-way point so far is, the author's protestations to the contrary, Monk was just a crazy doper.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2011 4:56:49 PM PDT
M. Murphy says:
He was bi polar and a doper. And a genius. Read on

Posted on Nov 3, 2011 6:10:31 PM PDT
I enjoyed Thomas Fitterling's book on "Thelonious Monk - His Life and Music." What I've heard about the Kelley book seems that it concentrates more on his eccentricities than the music. As someone else on this forum states, I'm here for the music.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 10:23:52 AM PDT
M. Murphy says:
He was bi polar and a doper. And a genius. Read on

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 10:42:43 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 20, 2012 6:23:33 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 10:46:17 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 20, 2012 6:23:50 AM PDT]
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Discussion in:  Jazz forum
Participants:  28
Total posts:  87
Initial post:  Nov 12, 2007
Latest post:  Feb 4, 2013

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