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Nica's Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness Hardcover – June 27, 2011
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Starred Review. This is an essential read for jazz enthusiasts and strongly suggested for those interested in new perspectives on jazz culture and its historical framework. Kastin is an exceptionally fine writer who compellingly blends rare interviews, in-depth research, and masterful storytelling in this first biography of a legendary individual. "
David Kastin has written the definitive biography of one of the most elusive, beguiling and pivotal personalities in 20th Century music. The story of Pannonica is essential reading for all fans of art, culture and jazz. --Robert Kraft, President, Fox Music Inc."
Nica s Dream is a brilliant and incisive addition to the history of jazz. The Baroness Nica is portrayed in such a truthful fashion that those of us blessed to have known her now can introduce her to anyone by giving them a copy of this outstanding biography. Nica s Dream reads like a picaresque novel. But it s all true. --David Amram, American composer, musician, author"
A stunning biography of Monk s patron. What a story! --Phil Schaap, curator and jazz historian, WKCR-FM, New York City"
With a journalist s dedication to research and a storyteller s passion for historical context, Kastin relates the most unusual life of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswater the woman who left behind a family and a fortune to dedicate herself to the maestri of modern jazz. --Ashley Kahn, author of The House that Trane Built"
Finally! Nica s story told in Technicolor, with the grandeur to match her own. David Kastin penetrates the myths and legends about the Jazz Baroness. In doing so, he gives us a stunning cultural biography of New York City and a riveting portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century. Bravo! --Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original"
From the Back Cover
“Finally! Nica’s story told in Technicolor, with the grandeur to match her own. David Kastin penetrates the myths and legends about the Jazz Baroness. In doing so, he gives us a stunning cultural biography of New York City and a riveting portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century. Bravo!”―Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
“With a journalist’s dedication to research and a storyteller’s passion for historical context, Kastin relates the most unusual life of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswater―the woman who left behind a family and a fortune to dedicate herself to the maestri of modern jazz.”―Ashley Kahn, author of The House that Trane Built
“The Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter was a cultural bridge and source of understanding for an enormously important generation of jazz musicians. This book is a must-read.”―T. S. Monk
“David Kastin has written the definitive biography of one of the most elusive, beguiling, and pivotal personalities in twentieth-century music. The story of Pannonica is essential reading for all fans of art, culture, and jazz.”―Robert Kraft, president, Fox Music Inc.
“Nica’s Dream is a brilliant and incisive addition to the history of jazz. The Baroness Nica is portrayed in such a truthful fashion that those of us blessed to have known her now can introduce her to anyone by giving them a copy of this outstanding biography. Nica’s Dream reads like a picaresque novel. But it’s all true.”―David Amram, American composer, musician, and author
“A stunning biography of Monk’s patron. What a story!” ―Phil Schaap, curator and jazz historian, WKCR
Top Customer Reviews
After looking into Nica's family tree, the book digs into her early life, being born into one the wealthiest families on earth, her marriage at age 22 to a French diplomat who later joined the Free French Forces to fight the Nazis. Although she was a jazz fan at this point, it was hearing Monk's "Round Midnight" that lead her to move to New York as well as her evolving into the "Jazz Baroness". A good deal of this book focus on her friendship with Monk, which is not an issue with me since it was his music led her to come to America & the fact that he spend his final years under her care.
It's great to see that Nica's love of jazz made her color blind in terms of race relations, although she ended up paying a huge price for that esp. in the wake of Parker's death. Yet despite a divorce & being disinherited by her family, Nica becomes a friend and patron for many prominent jazz musicians. Even hosting jam sessions in her home (some which has been taped but has yet to be released to the public or to jazz scholars) until her death in 1988.
Overall, this bio is a real page turner, at times reads like a novel. It must have been hard for the author researching info on Nica's family since they turned their backs on her. Still, he does a good job with this book, & should be a good read for those who want to know the true story behind the Jazz Baroness.
But the book is billed as "The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness," the mysterious Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild de Koenigswarter, trust fund heir with a gold-plated European heritage and an English accent. Legend there is, but her life remains elusive. Kastin's compressed take on her early years is riveting: her World War II exploits--flying aircraft and driving jeeps in wartime North Africa, and raising five kids on the run--is every bit the equal of the military, spycraft and political adventures of her dashing husband, Jules. Excise the mostly extraneous jazz and cultural history by rote--the interconnection of the Big Bands, Abstract Expressionism, the Beat Movement, and so on--and the residual tale yields gleaming nuggets about the Rothschild family that could well become a Masterpiece Theater series.
Then Nica experiences her St.-Paul-on-the-Road-to-Damascus conversion on hearing Monk's "Round Midnight" in 1951, and her Patron Saint of Jazz persona emerges fully blown.Read more ›
I was transported to that magic era where the fission products of jazz were being conjured up on the ground floor of Harlem and this strange symbiotic relationship transcending class borders between that grand lady and the grand musicians who she adopted. That's some history I can use.
Kastin spends a lot of effort banishing the contemporary expectations of a sexual relationship. Hence the 3 stars. However, he then implies the same for the Baroness and Art Blakey, without any back-up. Hence the 3 stars.
Additionally, Katin devotes more to jazz figures of the period than to the Baroness' life prior to Monk. Most of his readers know the former and very few the latter.
For example, I would love to know more of her involvement in WWII. Just what did she do to assist Turing in solving the enigma?
This biography is more of a tease than a explanatory biography. Considering what it could have been, it is a disappointment,
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must read for jazz lovers of music developed from the 40,s to the present. For Nica has contributed to its development as much as the luminaries who created and played it--Monk,... Read morePublished 10 months ago by BBQ DADDY
If you're interested in modern jazz and the people who made it, you will enjoy this book. If you're not...well, not so much.Published 19 months ago by Cyclops
As a young man and solidly-dedicated jazz buff, I had often wondered what had prompted such profound love, respect, and near Goddess-like worship of this woman by some, if not most... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Norm B.
Good read. Interesting stories I hadn't heard before and a lot of info on Monk, as well as many other famous jazz artists.Published on January 10, 2014 by John F. Reid
A lot of it was a rehash of other authors' work. Much of the story line wandered off the subject but was enjoyable, such as anecdotes about Thelonious Monk and other players. Read morePublished on February 4, 2013 by Robert Munnich
David Kastin's biography of the uniquely hip Jazz Baronness earned the the Deems Taylor award for music biography,if all it did was to clear the room of the infinite pretender's to... Read morePublished on November 24, 2012 by Jaywilton
I just finished the biography of Nica de Rothschild by David Kastin. Was it worth reading? Hmm, not really but it's worth skimming, perhaps. Read morePublished on August 13, 2012 by Richard Kennard