Jazz History and Criticism
My Life in New Orleans
Paperback ISBN: 0306802767
”In all my whole career the Brick House was one of the toughest joints I ever played in. It was the honky-tonk where levee workers would congregate every Saturday night and trade with the gals who’d stroll up and down the floor and the bar. Those guys would drink and fight one another like circle saws. Bottles would come flying over the bandstand like crazy, and there was lots of just plain common shooting and cutting. But somehow all that jive didn’t faze me at all, I was so happy to have some place to blow my horn.” So says Louis Armstrong, a tough kid who just happened to be a musical genius, about one of the places where he performed and grew up. This raucous, rich tale of his early days in New Orleans concludes with his departure to Chicago at twenty-one to play with his boyhood idol King Oliver, and tells the story of a life that began, mythically, on July 4, 1900, in the city that sowed the seeds of jazz.
Third Ear-The Essential Listening Companion
Paperback ISBN: 0879306009
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.
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.
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.