Jazz History and Criticism
A Biography of Billy Strayhorn
Paperback ISBN: 0865475121
Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award Billy Strayhorn (1915-67) was one of the greatest composers in the history of American music, the creator of a body of work that includes such standards as "Take the 'A' Train." Yet all his life Strayhorn was overshadowed by his fri and collaborator Duke Ellington, with whom he worked for three decades as the Ellington Orchestra's ace songwriter and arranger.A "definitive" corrective (USA Today) to decades of patchwork scholarship and journalism about this giant of jazz, Lush Life is a vibrant and absorbing account of the "lush life" Strayhorn and other jazz musicians led in Harlem and Paris. While composing some of the most gorgeous American music of this century, Strayhorn labored under a complex agreement whereby Ellington took the bows for his work; until his life was tragically cut short by cancer and alcohol abuse, the small, shy black composer carried himself with singular style and grace as one of the few jazzmen to be openly homosexual. Lush Life has sparked an enthusiastic revival of interest in Billy Strayhorn's work. It is already acknowledged as a jazz classic.
Myself When I Am Real
The Life and Music of Charles Mingus
Paperback ISBN: 0195147111
Charles Mingus was one of the most innovative jazz musicians of the 20th century, and ranks with Charles Ives and Duke Ellington as one of America's greatest composers. By temperament, he was a high-strung and sensitive romantic, a towering figure whose tempestuous personal life found powerfully coherent expression in the ever-shifting textures of his music. Now, acclaimed music critic Gene Santoro strips away the myths shrouding "Jazz's Angry Man," revealing Mingus as more complex than even his close friends knew. Written in a lively, novelistic style, Myself When I Am Real draws on dozens of new interviews and previously untapped letters and archival materials to explore the intricate connections between this extraordinary man and the extraordinary music he made.
An Extravagant Life
Paperback ISBN: 0767901568
A portrait of an American musical icon describes Armstrong's poverty-stricken youth, his struggle to become a successful jazz musician, his private life, and his dramatic influence on American music and culture
Its Roots and Musical Development
Paperback ISBN: 0195040430
This classic study of jazz by renowned composer, conductor, and musical scholar Gunther Schuller was widely acclaimed on its first publication in 1968. The first of two volumes on the history and musical contribution of jazz, it takes us from the beginnings of jazz as a distinct musical style at the turn of the century to its first great flowering in the 1930's. Schuller explores the music of the great jazz soloists of the twenties--Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and others--and the big bands and arrangers--Fletcher Henderson, Bennie Moten, and especially Duke Ellington--placing their music in the context of the other musical cultures and languages of the 20th century and offering original analyses of many great jazz recordings. Now reissued in paper, Early Jazz provides a musical tour of the early American jazz world for a new generation of scholars, students, and jazz fans.
Something to Live for
The Music of Billy Strayhorn
Hardcover ISBN: 0195124480
Duke Ellington was one of jazz's greatest figures, a composer and bandleader of unparalleled importance and influence. But little attention has been given to his chief musical collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, who created hundreds of compositions and arrangements for his musical partner, and without whom the sound of Ellington's orchestra would have been very different. Now, in Walter van de Leur's provocative new book, Something To Live For, Billy Strayhorn steps out from Ellington's shadow and into the spotlight. Van de Leur argues that far from being merely a follower of Ellington or his alter ego, Strayhorn brought a radically new and visionary way of writing to the Ellington orchestra. Making extensive use, for the first time, of over 3,000 autograph scores, Van de Leur separates Strayhorn from Ellington, establishes who wrote what, and clearly distinguishes between their distinctive musical styles. "Both Strayhorn's and Ellington's oeuvres," writes Van de Leur, "though historically intertwined, nevertheless form coherent, separate musical entities, especially in terms of harmonic, melodic, and structural design." Indeed, Something to Live For allows us to see the characteristic features of Strayhorn's compositions and arrangements, his "musical fingerprints," and to analyze and evaluate his music on its own terms. The book also makes clear that Strayhorn's contribution to the band was much larger, and more original, than has been previously acknowledged. Based on a decade of research and offering detailed analyses of over 70 musical examples, Something to Live For casts new light--and will surely arouse intense debate--on two of the most important composers in the history of jazz.
The Life and Music of Perry George Lowery
Paperback ISBN: 1578065569
Long before the recognized birth of ragtime and jazz such hard-working travelers as Perry George Lowery blew their horns and led their bands throughout America, shaping the sound of modern music while performing in cities and towns across the nation. An exhausting on-the-road life caused Lowery's name to fade from music history. Even after dazzling America as a marquee soloist and the leader of minstrel and circus bands, Lowery (1870-1942) ended up in an unmarked grave in Cleveland, Ohio. This biography, the only book-length study of this groundbreaking African American cornet player, resurrects his name. It is the story of a quiet maverick who became the standard that shook American music. Lowery came from hardscrabble black settlers in Kansas. His family created an environment in which he could develop his musical talent. His life follows the evolution of American music via the circus, minstrelsy, and the vaudeville stage. From 1895 through 1942, he made his name not only as a musician but also as an author, columnist, teacher, showman, and entrepreneur. H. C. Brown of the Boston Conservatory called him the "World's Greatest Colored Cornet Soloist." A road-weary show veteran, Lowery landed a spot in the Ringling Brothers Sideshow Band at the height of the golden age of circuses. At a time when the nation slammed the doors on African American travel and opportunity, his work with the Ringling Brothers changed the music scene. By 1910, as a result of his performances, there were fourteen circus acts that employed African American bands. Clifford Edward Watkins is professor of music at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. His work has been published in the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and Feel the Spirit: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Afro-American Music.