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Book Reviews

Bob Dylan in photos, bios and monographs

Jul 23rd, 2015 | By
His lyrics, initially inspired by Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson and Hank Williams and defying the conventions of pop music, have incorporated political, social, philosophical and literary themes, in the process personalizing musical genres and acquiring an immense listenership, not just in the counterculture, as in the beginning of his career, but in the wider public. He is indeed a superstar and an American artistic icon.

Crouch’s bio of Bird brings early jazz fan to hard swing

Mar 22nd, 2014 | By
There was a change in me, too, when I finally heard Bird play with McShann’s band—amidst the hard-rock swing where he grew. . . To use a New York stride term, I hear Bird shouting.

Mingus Speaks

Jul 27th, 2013 | By
Mingus had been stereotyped as "an angry black man"; his own words portray his genius, his complexities and troubles

Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz, by John McCusker — A Review

May 13th, 2013 | By
New-Orleans bred John McCusker, for 30 years a photojournalist with the Times-Picayune and a local jazz historian, has written a tightly strung, contemplative biography of that life—revealing not only Ory’s personal story but the music in which it moved.

Nica’s Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness – A Review

Oct 21st, 2012 | By

Nica’s Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness, by David Kastin

W.W. Norton & Company, 2011; 272 pps; $26.95 hardcover

While it recounts a fascinating life, Nica’s Dream addresses the history of jazz and mid-century modernism, which encompassed all the arts. David Kastin introduces an impressive array of themes and threads that convey the richness of the … [read more]

Harlem Jazz Adventures: A European Baron’s Memoir, 1934-1969: A Review

Oct 10th, 2012 | By

Harlem Jazz Adventures: A European Baron’s Memoir, 1934-1969, by Timme Rosenkranz, adapted and edited by Fradley Hamilton Garner

The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012, pp. 297, hardcover

 “Great music needs deep listeners”

The above snippet quote from a chapter on Duke Ellington from Timme Rosenkrantz’s 35-year memoir Harlem Jazz Adventures is at the heart of this personal narrative. Rosenkrantz—who came … [read more]

Dave Oliphant’s KD: A Jazz Biography: A Review

Sep 5th, 2012 | By

KD: A Jazz Biography

By Dave Oliphant

Wings Press, 2012, 200 pps., $19.95 hardcover

With its rich and dark portrait of Kenny Dorham on the cover, Dave Oliphant’s KD, A Jazz Biography  is nicely packaged and neatly presented. To be precise, what it presents itself as is a poem, a 200-page epic on the subject’s involvements and achievements in his … [read more]

Peter Pullman’s Wail: The Life of Bud Powell- a review

Aug 21st, 2012 | By

On Amazon, reviewers so far are unanimous in their five-star appraisal of Peter Pullman’s Wail: The Life of Bud Powell, and all they write is true. This book is impeccably researched, compassionate towards its deeply problematic subject without being mawkish or hagiographic, and multi-dimensional  in its portraying of music, society and the lives of a distinctive coterie of difficult 

people under considerable … [read more]

The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story – a review

Aug 8th, 2012 | By

The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story By Gregg Akkerman (forward by Kevin Mahagony) The Scarecrow Press. Inc. (2012), 367 pages, $55.00

Gregg Akkerman’s new biography of Johnny Hartman bears the suitably elegiac title, The Last Balladeer. But after reading the author’s litany of missed opportunities, shoddy management, poorly produced (and marketed) recordings, racial roadblocks and sheer bad timing … [read more]

All The Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett – A Review

Mar 11th, 2012 | By

All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett 
By David Evanier

John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2011; 346 pps; $26.95 hardcover

After reading Tony Bennett’s 1998 autobiography, I was left considerably unsatisfied due to its lack of realistic depth. Despite Bennett’s continuous attempts to convince the reader every record he made was good music and that … [read more]