Jelly's Blues vividly recounts the tumultuous life of Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941), born Ferdinand Joseph Lamonthe to a large, extended family in New Orleans. A virtuoso pianist with a larger-than-life personality, he composed such influential early jazz pieces as "Kansas City Stomp" and "New Orleans Blues." But by the late 1930s, Jelly Roll Morton was nearly forgotten as a visionary jazz composer. Instead, he was caricatured as a braggart, a hustler, and, worst of all, a has-been. He was ridiculed by the white popular press and robbed of due royalties by unscrupulous music publishers. His reputation at rock bottom, Jelly Roll Morton seemed destined to be remembered more as a flamboyant, diamond-toothed rounder than as the brilliant architect of that new American musical idiom: Jazz.In 1992, the death of a New Orleans memorabilia collector unearthed a startling archive. Here were unknown later compositions as well as correspondence, court and copyright records, all detailing Morton's struggle to salvage his reputation, recover lost royalties, and protect the publishing rights of black musicians. Morton was a much more complex and passionate man than many had realized, fiercely dedicated to his art and possessing an unwavering belief in his own genius, even as he toiled in poverty and obscurity. An especially immediate and visceral look into the jazz worlds of New Orleans and Chicago, Jelly's Blues is the definitive biography of a jazz icon, and a long overdue look at one of the twentieth century's most important composers.
"The ultimate in art is self-expression, not escape."-Duke Ellington In this fascinating portrait of one of America's greatest musical legends, longtime friend and jazz historian Stanley Dance recounts the life of the incomparable Duke Ellington in his own words and in the words of the artists who played along with him: longtime co-composer Billy Strayhorn, saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster, trumpeters Cootie Williams and Clark Terry, drummer Sonny Greer, vocalist Alice Babs, and organist Wild Bill Davis, among many others. There are also first-hand accounts of Ellington's world tours, performances in churches and the White House, interviews and public appearances, and a complete discography and chronology. The result is a timeless chronicle of the long and extraordinary career of a music master."The truest and most intimate portrait of the great Ellington that we have."-Whitney Balliett
Louis Armstrong was the founding father of jazz and one of this century's towering cultural figures, yet the full story of his extravagant life has never been told.Born in 1901 to the sixteen-year-old daughter of a slave, he came of age among the prostitutes, pimps, and rag-and-bone merchants of New Orleans. He married four times and enjoyed countless romantic involvements in and around his marriages. A believer in marijuana for the head and laxatives for the bowels, he was also a prolific diarist and correspondent, a devoted friend to celebrities from Bing Crosby to Ella Fitzgerald, a perceptive social observer, and, in his later years, an international goodwill ambassador. And, of course, he was a dazzling musician. From the bordellos and honky-tonks of Storyville--New Orleans's red light district--to the upscale nightclubs in Chicago, New York, and Hollywood, Armstrong's stunning playing, gravelly voice, and irrepressible personality captivated audiences and critics alike. Recognized and beloved wherever he went, he nonetheless managed to remain vigorously himself. Now Laurence Bergreen's remarkable book brings to life the passionate, courageous, and charismatic figure who forever changed the face of American music.
The most comprehensive interpretive history of jazz available in one volume, this book contains a survey of the past and current styles, elements, instruments, musicians, singers, and big bands of jazz.
The Jazz Singer's Handbook provides an inspiring and practical window of insight into the world of professional jazz singing. Drawing upon an impressive career as an arranger, teacher, singer, pianist, and clinician, Michele Weir (faculty, UCLA) ha
Written by one of jazz journalism's best and most knowledgeable critics, this book explores the full swing spectrum from its origins in the 1920s through its current retro resurgence. Features intriguing capsule biographies of 400 of the best musicians, from classic artists like Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman to retro swingers such as the Brian Setzer Orchestra and Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, with each artist's most notable CDs reviewed and rated, plus info on film appearances, books, and hard-to-find recordings. Includes insightful essays that explore this music's cultural impact, fun photos and swing memorabilia.
From painters lofts and bohemian haunts in the Greenwich Village of the 1950s to funky clubs and Bowery bars like the Five Spot, jazz musician David Amram retraces in this engaging memoir the creative paths he followed through restless days and long, exhilarating nights with his collaborator and friend Jack Kerouac. With candor and humor, Amram re-creates the moments that shaped a mutually stimulating relationshiplike the jazz-poetry reading, the first ever in New York, he performed with Kerouac, whose On the Road had recently made him an overnight literary success; or like the 1959 film, Pull My Daisy, they hilariously made with fellow Beats Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, and Larry Rivers. Amram illuminates the private side of Kerouac, too, his extraordinary intellect and his ardent pursuit of music and literature long after the critics had turned on him and many of his old friends had abandoned him. Among the last of a generation that altered the style and substance of the arts in its time, Amram also celebrates in this at once wise and affecting book the renascence of interest in Kerouacs work three decades after his death. For the beat indeed goes on. And so does the collaboration.
In this comprehensive, 860-page hardcover resource, Scott Yanow traces the history of jazz through its recordings. Most live performances from this 60-year period (1895 to 1976) are lost forever, but jazz fans can still experience a rich legacy of recorded work. Painstakingly sorting through and colorfully commenting on thousands of CDs and LPs, Yanow points out which performances are the most representative of the great 20th-century artists, and which recordings are essential to jazz fans' collections. Along the way, he takes readers on a journey through the golden ages of jazz, covering styles such as New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, Dixieland, hard bop, soul jazz, the avant-garde, and fusion - and showing how these forms diverge, develop, and continue to flourish. A must for jazz fans, scholars and serious collectors.