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Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats Paperback – September 1, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

De Koenigswarter (1913-1988), known as the "Jazz Baroness," was a fixture on the East Coast jazz scene of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Born into the wealthy Rothschild family and married to a French aristocrat, de Koenigswarter emigrated to New York City in the early '50s and became an enthusiastic patron of artists large and small. She was also a canny amateur photographer, evidenced in this enthralling collection of candid snapshots. She also, over course of a decade, collected wishes from some 300 musicians; alongside vibrant, smoky Polaroids, these wishes--though plenty go to money, health and more wishes--provide a brief glimpse into each subjects' dreams: Julian "Cannonball" Adderley wishes for a jazz artists' subsidy organization; Dinah Washington wishes for triplet girls; and Charles Mingus wishes for "enough to pay my bills, but that's absolutely all." Not everyone wishes deep: Bill Hardman wishes for "a crazy old lady"; David "Fathead" Newman wishes "To get high... right now." Legends like Art Blakey Jr., Miles Davis, Horace Silver and John Coltrane are seen as often at work as at play--de Koenigswarter's New Jersey home, "The Cathouse," was known for housing cats both literal and jazz (Monk spent years there). Free of speculation or commentary, the work has an appropriately improvisational feel, perfect for engaged browsing--if only it came with a CD.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Pannonica de Koenigswarter, daughter of Charles and Rozsika Rothschild, was married to the Baron Jules de Koenigswarter, a renowned freedom fighter in the French resistance, before she moved to New York City, where she emerged as a major patron of the Jazz scene. Nadine de Koenigswarter, Nica’s granddaughter, is a multimedia visual artist living in Paris and West Africa. Gary Giddins is an award-winning jazz critic and author. He writes columns about music for Jazz Times and about film for the New York Sun.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 9.1.2008 edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810972352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810972353
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael L. Slavin on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is, of course, a collection of photographs from the jazz past. Though the images are not dated, it seems that most were taken in the 1950's-70's. There have been a number of books featuring pictures of jazz artists by professional photographers such as William Claxton and Herman Leonard. What I like about these are they are not glamour shots but for the most part they seem to be just candid poses that have not been published previously. The three wishes part of the book seemed to get responses ranging from modest hopes for better mastery of their instruments and more creativity to financial success. Of course most know that Bird died at the Baroness de Koenigswarter's Stanhope apartment. She has had many songs named in her honor such as Nica's Dream and Nica's Tempo. Some of the pictures included are of Pepper Adams, Cannonball, Art Blakey, Roy Brooks, Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers, Sonny Clark, Klook, Trane, Junior Cook, A.T., Walter Davis, Jr., Diz, K.D.,Joe Farrell, Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton, Bill Hardman, Barry Harris, Hawk, Elmo Hope, Philly Joe Jones, Wynton Kelly, Mingus, Blue Mitchell, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Miles, Monk, Oscar Pettiford, Bud Powell, Freddie Redd, Max Roach,Sonny Rollins, Charlie Rouse, Horace Silver, Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Lucky Thompson, Bobby Timmons, Wilbur Ware. The preceeding is truly a list of greats and there are many I didn't mention. Go for it.
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Slightly larger than a trade size book. Soft but substantial cover,305 pages plus index. For those of you who enjoy jazz this is something that should be on your library shelf. As the title infers,a lot of the leading musicians of the day(beginning in 1961 through 1967 in New York) were asked what their three wishes were. The answers are very enlightening and always entertaining. An example is this from Les Spann:"That the people of the world understand each other. That I could look forward to consistent growth of perception till I die. That I could eat chicken as often as I want". Another is this from the bassist John Ore:"To be able to play well. To be all over the world,in good health. To have a time-machine". And this from Stan Getz:"Justice. Truth. Beauty".

The wishes from these musicians give an insight into their lives and their aspirations and outlooks. The photographs,which are very atmospheric, are what really set this book apart from other books about this period. The author,who has quite a few compositions named in her honor, has a unique vantage point and uses it well. They aren't formally composed shots but rather pictures taken very informally. There is a short biography of the author by her grandaughter and an introduction by Gary Giddins. For the jazz lover this book is a cut above because of the rapport between the author and her subjects.
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Nica is a well known name to anyone with a mild interest in jazz, especially modern jazz. Her name features in classic tunes: Nica's Dream, Nica's Tempo, Pannonica and countless others. This book offers some of the most incredible candid photography of those that helped define modern jazz (Thelonious Monk, Barry Harris, Tommy Flannagan, Sonny Clark, Charlie Rouse, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, and many more.), and simultaneously lets us into their minds through Nica's asking them for their "3 Wishes". These lists are incredible for their depth, insight and candor from each musician who contributed. A wonderful book told through the eyes of a great patron and friend of the greatest jazz has produced.
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Historical photos of the time period regarding jazz writings of Monk, and the lady, Ms. Koeningswater who wrote the book- "Nica's Dream,"
...A visual of the musicians that wandered through her life. Yes, amateurish...but this is what makes this book so wonderful- an honest history of what was transpiring in jazz during those years.
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In 2008, a fascinating document of jazz history was revealed to the public: Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats, a collection of photographs of jazz musicians in New York taken by The Jazz Baroness, Pannonic de Koenigswarter (or Nica). In the 1960s, She 300 jazz musicians (the noteworthy, such as John Coltrane, and many others less known) what their three wishes were. The answers range from the profound to the pedestrian to the puckish to the prurient.

Two sets of answers stand out to me:

Saxophonist, Ornette Coleman:

1. Eternal life.
2. Love.
3. Happiness.

Pianist, Mary Lou Williams:

1. To love God more.
2. To do His will.
3. That he should save souls through me.

Think on these things.

Nica also photographed the jazz folk she loved and supported, using her inexpensive camera, giving the photos a raw, granular, and "you-are-there" quality. This unique book is a testimony to yearning, lament, and hope: a unique window into the jazz world of a generation ago.
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I can't recall how I found this book but am so glad I did. It's a great retrospective by the author who was right there in the middle of the Golden Age of Jazz and experienced this era personally together with many jazz greats of the period. Pannonica de Koenigswarter was the subject of a song composed by Horace Silver called "Nica's Dream." She was a dear friend of Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, among others, and a great patron of jazz. Her acquaintenance with these great jazz icons gave her access to some of the most treasured jazz musicians in the world. The premise of the book is the author asks her subjects to tell her what they would do if they had "three wishes" which, in turn, allows us a peak into their minds and hearts for a fleeting moment in time. This is a very entertaining compilation and unlike anything I've ever read. I recommend it highly for jazz enthusiasts everywhere.
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