Author Topic: Books about jazz  (Read 15027 times)

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Offline Brian

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Books about jazz
« on: September 16, 2015, 05:54:58 PM »
This morning I started reading Stanley Crouch's book about Charlie Parker:



So far, so good. I know Crouch has some controversial views about basically every subject, including jazz (e.g. his dismissal of fusion and late Miles).

I also recently read and enjoyed Geoff Dyer's rather free-with-the-facts series of essays, But Beautiful.



Like Dyer says in his intro, it "feels" true even when it isn't.

What are some of your favorite books about jazz?

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2015, 11:04:55 AM »
I was just about to start such a topic. I am looking for a good, relatively short, single volume history of jazz. I have a bad track record with "History of..." types of books, including Grout (looking for substitute for that one too). I usually get bored and sidetracked into reading another book on my vast unread pile about halfway through. I watched the Ken Burns series, but was very underwhelmed by that and have little interest in the book.

Any suggestions?

Edit: It looks as if But Beautiful might fit the bill?

« Last Edit: September 17, 2015, 11:08:56 AM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
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Offline Brian

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2015, 12:12:17 PM »
Edit: It looks as if But Beautiful might fit the bill?
Sort of, but the book is very impressionistic. It does capture much of the history of jazz, but it does so through short story-essays about 7-8 major figures (Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker, etc.). And when I say story-essays, I mean a blend of truth and fiction, but the fiction is meant to impart a sense of each musician's personality.

So But Beautiful is more like a historical commentary than a true history. It is very short, which is nice, and it's spectacularly written.

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2015, 01:02:33 PM »
This is pretty good

« Last Edit: September 17, 2015, 04:44:16 PM by Dungeon Master »

Offline Artem

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2015, 06:09:17 PM »
Miles by Miles Davis and Beneath the Underdog by Charles Mingus are two great autobiographies.

Ashley Kahn's books about "Kind of Blue", "A Love Supreme" and the Impulse! label are great if you want to get deeper with those albums and the label history.

Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties by Scott Saul is good too.


Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2015, 02:50:07 AM »



Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
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Offline king ubu

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2015, 12:36:47 PM »
lately, I found this one excellent:


(and based on it, would try his "History of Jazz" over Dyer, for whom I've not much use it seems)

also, this one was pretty nice, if not containing much that was unexpected:



then, I'm halfway through this and it's excellent:



also right now reading this, and it's most thought-provoking indeed:



then, the book that definitely moved me most in quite some time - not about jazz, but I think of plenty of relevance still:



Kelley's book on Monk sets the standard, I guess. I've read some chapters in it and found it excellent. Guess Peter Pullman's book on Bud Powell is even more thorough, but I hate reading on the smartphone and am proceeding very slowly (international shipping asked is ridiculous, no way I'll pay 50$ for a paperback).

for the German-reading crowd, I warmly recommend this one:



Also, if you want to dig deeper into Bebop, Ira Gitler's two books (Masters and Swing to Bop) are excellent.

And then there's Charles Mingus' great "Beneath the Underdog" ...
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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2015, 05:33:14 PM »
Great suggestions, thanks.

BTW, I'm currently writing a book called Stolon Moments about sod-forming grasses.
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Artem

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2015, 05:44:45 PM »
Forgot to mention Herbie Hancock's autobiography that I read recently called "Possibilities". It is pretty good.

If you like Haruki Murakami, he has a short book called "Jazz portraits", where he talks about different jazz recordings and his personal relationship to them. It's good.

Offline king ubu

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2015, 03:43:03 AM »
following up on Caylor (which was just published for the first time) who did his interviews in 1964/65 as an outsider and a person with large interests in all things arts, culture etc. (he is an architect by profession and did the interviews besides that) - there's also this here, with some great interviews done by Art Taylor (the drummer):


I've not read more than a few yet, but it promises to be full of insight and very entertaining too (be aware that you'll get some racialist (and yes, racist) views - if you want to know more about the why and how, I guess Amiri Baraka and the essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates will help, though I'm just about to finally dig deeper into Baraka and read his two books, "Blue People" and "Black Music").
Es wollt ein meydlein grasen gan:
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Offline Leo K.

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2015, 05:39:34 AM »
I've been reading Bix:The Definitive Biography of a Jazz Legend by Jean Pierre Lion. The book is a treasure of a resource and doesn't hold back anything. Unfortunately it's expensive to get but worth every penny I paid.


Offline Leo K.

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2015, 05:43:07 AM »
This morning I started reading Stanley Crouch's book about Charlie Parker:



So far, so good. I know Crouch has some controversial views about basically every subject, including jazz (e.g. his dismissal of fusion and late Miles).

What are some of your favorite books about jazz?

That book looks intriguing, thanks for the heads up!

Offline Leo K.

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2015, 05:45:50 AM »
lately, I found this one excellent:


(and based on it, would try his "History of Jazz" over Dyer, for whom I've not much use it seems)

also, this one was pretty nice, if not containing much that was unexpected:



then, I'm halfway through this and it's excellent:



also right now reading this, and it's most thought-provoking indeed:



then, the book that definitely moved me most in quite some time - not about jazz, but I think of plenty of relevance still:



Kelley's book on Monk sets the standard, I guess. I've read some chapters in it and found it excellent. Guess Peter Pullman's book on Bud Powell is even more thorough, but I hate reading on the smartphone and am proceeding very slowly (international shipping asked is ridiculous, no way I'll pay 50$ for a paperback).

for the German-reading crowd, I warmly recommend this one:



Also, if you want to dig deeper into Bebop, Ira Gitler's two books (Masters and Swing to Bop) are excellent.

And then there's Charles Mingus' great "Beneath the Underdog" ...

Wow! I'm wish-listing these right now!

Offline Scion7

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2015, 12:15:46 PM »
My small Jazz library - the majority of my literature on the subject is in magazines - Downbeat, Jazz, Record Review, etc., etc.  And let us never forget the excellent album note sleeves by Blue Note, Prestige, Muse, Columbia, etc., back in the day.



The book on the far right is the "Blue Note Book" published only in Japan - a discography of every album issued.  Basically, the covers, personnel, tracks - little annotation.  At the time, it was a book "to have."  Now, not so much.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2015, 11:22:38 PM by Scion7 »
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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2015, 11:08:15 PM »
   

I don't think I count as a jazz enthusiast, because the range of what I can appreciate is hopelessly narrow. But I do have a jazz book that I treasure - partly because it makes for a compelling read; partly because Anita O'Day's singing swings like no one else's, and her arrangements make almost every song exciting in some way; and also because my copy of her book is a bit special (see second picture).

Offline Scion7

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2015, 11:25:07 PM »
^ The book on O'Day is indeed very interesting.  She is one of the very few Jazz vocalists I listen to (her incredible performance in Jazz on a Summer's Day) and her Sixties work on Vanguard.  Beautiful woman in her time - so sad she got mixed up with chemicahol abuses.
Your barricades lie broken ... your enemies lord.

Offline Mookalafalas

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2015, 06:26:45 AM »
Karl listed "Jazz" above. I have it but haven't read it yet. However, I've read a fair amount of Giddins other stuff, and he is a wonderful writer, speaking from a purely journalistic, putting-words-together artfully point of view, and he also seems to have a lot of integrity as a cultural historian. 
  His Visions of Jazz won a mess of awards, and deservedly.  He really takes you to school when he writes.  His Bing Crosby bio was a real eye opener. 
It's all good...

Offline Bogey

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2016, 07:00:37 PM »
No brainers on these two, Brian:

There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2016, 02:15:45 PM »
Also this one, which I've found invaluable - a tour through and assessment of the entire Davis discography:



Which reminds me: this is an excellent introduction to the overwhelming Ellington discography:



Both books provide a biographical overview as they progress, but largely only insofar as it serves the purpose of discussing the records or the sessions or the live work. So there's considerably less of the more usual gossip and apocraphal anecdotes than in others - but that's the way I prefer it.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 02:28:16 PM by SimonNZ »

Offline Artem

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Re: Books about jazz
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2016, 07:05:53 PM »
This new book may be of interest.