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Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce Paperback – October 1, 2014
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"Has established a new standard against which all future jazz biographies must be judged." - Bill Barton, Signal To Noise
"To say this biography is a comprehensive undertaking would be an understatement. It is also an interesting and important contribution to jazz literature." - Rob Bauer, IAJRC Journal
"Cohen and Fitzgerald have done a heroic job of tracking down obscure facts and questioning the accepted details...a work of quality." - Brian Priestley, Jazz Research News
"Cohen and Fitzgerald have done a masterful job of bringing Gryce's life to light...an exemplary study of a neglected figure." - Coda Magazine
From the Back Cover
"There are any number of reasons for someone interested in the story of America and its music to delve deeply into the legacy of Gigi Gryce. To begin with, he was a superbly melodic composer who wrote pieces that linger in the memory. He was a master of writing music for larger ensembles and knew the intricacies of all of the instruments. This enabled him to combine them in ways that sounded fresh, and that were both challenging for the players and intriguing to the listener. Gigi Gryce is far too important a figure to remain in relative obscurity. This book will correct that situation."
-- Loren Schoenberg, saxophonist and artistic director, National Jazz Museum in Harlem
Top customer reviews
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I would recommend it to anyone who is curious about life and/ or music and particularly to young people, struggling against the odds of poverty and racism.
The book rediscovers Gigi Gryce, a name that appears on the records of numerous famous Jazz musicians,Cifford Brown, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Thelonius Monk, Donald Byrd, Art Farmer.... to name only a few.
The research done by Noal Cohen and Michael Fitzgerald is meticulous and sensitive. They manage to give us an insiders view of the Jazz scene in the 50's and early 60's, depicting Gigi's whole life from a strict and loving upbringing in Pensecola, Florida to his education at the Boston Conservatory; heady days in New York playing with all the greats and starting a family; his attempts to help musicians protect their publishing rights and finally his reinvention of himself as a teacher in the Bronx.
For the most part, the authors are in the background, letting the musicians, family and friends speak for themselves about their memories of Gryce. Some of the anecdotes are hilarious. There are also great photos, including one of a young Quincy Jones and Clifford Brown who worked with Gigi in the Lionel Hampton band.
Finding Gigi Gryce is akin to finding Zora Neal Hurston or more recently Henry Grimes.
Congratulations to the authors for a book that sets a high standard for biographies of musicians.