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BOOK REVIEWS

The Freedom Principle: Jazz after 1958

by John Litweiler Da Capo Press (New York, 1990)

Despite an original publication date of almost 15 years ago, Litweiler's exposition of the history, methods, intentions, and personalities associated with free jazz from its inception remains a useful introduction to this music. Free jazz remains anathema to many musicians and listeners, and is rarely heard on the radio, but it has persisted, reflecting the survival of an impulse towards emotional expression, spiritual purity, and aesthetic freedom in the face of its marginalization. Withal, free jazz has become another flavor in the bag of tricks which younger musicians collect ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell

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Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell Francis Paudras 355 Pages ISBN: # 0-306-80816-1 Da Capo Press 1998 We should all have a friend like Francis Paudras, who nursed the great pianist Bud Powell back to health after rescuing him from an abusive caretaker. This story, presented in loose fashion some years ago in the movie “Round Midnight," is the subject of Paudras' book, published in translation here for the first time, twelve years after its original French publication. Paudras, whose own life ended tragically through suicide in the past ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Too Marvelous For Words

by James Lester Oxford University Press (New York, 1994)"

Too Marvelous For Words: The Life and Genius of Art Tatum" by James Lester; published by Oxford University Press (New York, 1994). The man behind those extraordinary pianistic flourishes was a somewhat shadowy figure, but James Lester has brought him into the light with a wealth of research and reminiscences. The many small stories which make up this telling of this life, which was largely successful on its own terms, make a fascinating tapestry, reanimating not just the pianist but also the milieu in which he flourished. In addition, ...

BOOK REVIEWS

MONK

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by Laurent de Wilde Marlowe & Company (New York, 1997)

This is a biography with the flavor of a novel. Lacking any of the scholarly apparatus customary in a historical work -- no index, footnotes, bibliography, discography, or acknowledgments -- it nevertheless imposes a knowing and occasionally stylish sensibility on its treatment of the seminal jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk (1917 - 1982). To a large degree, though, it is less a biography than a meditation on Monk's life and music.The facts are there, though: Monk's youth in the mid-town Manhattan neighborhood which now boasts ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Notes And Tones: Musician To Musician Interviews

by Art Taylor Da Capo Press (1993)

This slightly expanded edition of Taylor's 1982 publication of these striking interviews with jazz musicians known to both millions or only to their colleagues and fans, provides unusual insight into the techniques, attitudes, preoccupations and personal histories of some extraordinary personalities. Taylor, a percussionist held in the highest esteem by his peers since the early '50's, was in many respects an ideal interviewer: a master drummer who had made music with many of his subjects and had experienced the same social and economic struggles. There is little feeling of inhibition in ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Dexter Gordon: A Musical Biography

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by Stan Britt Da Capo Press (New York, 1989)

Although there's plenty of fascinating material in this show-biz biography of the great master of bebop tenor saxophone, it's so permeated with gush and hyperbole that it requires some tolerance to sift through it for Gordon's story. The details are there, though, from his upbringing in Los Angeles as the son of a physician who died when Gordon was 12, his mingling with other young or established musicians in the Central Avenue scene, work in the bands of Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, and various smaller groups in Los Angeles ...

BOOK REVIEWS

The Face of Black Music

by Valerie Wilmer Da Capo Press (New York, 1976)

Wilmer is both a photographer and a journalist, the author of a sympathetic study of free jazz, “As Serious As Your Life." In “The Face of Black Music" the emphasis is less on jazz than on the range of African-American musics from the blues and the church through jazz, with only classical music (composers, operatic singers, instrumentalists) omitted.Wilmer's obvious affection for her subjects was reciprocated by opportunities for photographs of extraordinary intimacy. Photographs in the band bus, the dressing room, or the loft complement those of performances, ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings

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Peter Pettinger Yale University Press New Haven 1998

This is an exhaustive trawl through the work of Bill Evans, with characterizations of virtually every recorded track, whether created for posterity or bootlegged from a concert or broadcast. Evans’ work schedule gets a similar treatment, although the author implies that there are quite a few more performance dates than the many which he does characterize or at least mention. There are also many quotations from Evans, who was that rarity among musicians, someone who was articulate and thoughtful enough to be a good speaker and writer.

BOOK REVIEWS

Jazz Style in Kansas City

Jazz Style in Kansas City Ross Russell Da Capo Press 1997

As Russell describes it, the Kansas City jazz scene was founded on the combination of isolation from the jazz mainstream in Chicago and New York, and a vital night life that was depression-proof and unaffected by Prohibition, protected by the corrupt political machine of Mayor Tom Pendergast. Thus a local jazz culture was free to develop in its many nightclubs, dance halls and theaters, based on regional blues and folk music styles, as well as on ragtime, whose masters Scott Joplin and James ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Music: Black, White & Blue

Music: Black, White & Blue by Ortiz Walton William Morrow, 1972

Music: Black, White & Blue is both a musicological and sociological treatment of African-American music. Walton, himself a musician, begins with the African roots of both the musical practices and social uses of jazz: a participatory music with “the cries, falsettos, slurs and other African expressive modes." He continues with descriptions of the content and social settings of various types of slave music, showing how the people continued to use and transmit African elements. For example, in the absence of drums, polymetric rhythms were nonetheless ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Lloyd: Voice in the Night

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Although Voice in the Night marks Charles Lloyd's return after over three decades to recording with guitar rather than piano as the chordal instrument, the most notable feature of his new CD is his return to form, as opposed to merely a return to format. He sounds the best he has since he left his Big Sur retreat to perform and record for ECM with Michel Petrucciani and Bobo Stenson. Indeed, the whole band sounds on, in this sequence of mostly Lloyd originals old and new, with an additional composition by Billy Strayhorn to close the CD, and an Elvis ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carla White: Live at Vartan Jazz

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Carla White's husky, swinging vocal style gets great backing and a justly enthusiastic audience at Denver's Vartan Jazz club on her fifth release, a performance of standards. Less deliberately arranged than her acclaimedListen Here, this set has a vitality that comes from the performers having a good night and giving it out.

White's voice reminds me of the rich velvet sound from the great 1930's tenor players, and she even shares Ben Webster's fondness for flat intonation. Her relaxed rhythmic feel, dynamic range down to the whisper, and sensitivity to the lyrics are perfect for her repertoire. She floats over ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anouar Brahem: Thimar

Read "Thimar" reviewed by

Once again ECM expands the boundaries of jazz. This brings up the question of whether this music is jazz, and purists would argue that it's not: no blues, no standards, no drums. Why not go all the way and decry the absence of banjo and tuba? The fact is that there are elements of jazz here, including group improvisation, rhythmic propulsion, and two established jazz players, Surman and Holland. But the listener who appreciates this release will be someone who likes music which is original and thoughtful, enjoys the exoticism of the references to the music of North Africa, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Paul Bley: Chaos

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There's a fashion on many contemporary jazz recordings, in which the players are variously combined for each track: all on some tracks, just a few on others, perhaps just one or two on the rest, and no grouping the same. While Chaosfollows this formula, the results have a consistency which is often lacking in straight-ahead releases thus assembled. The explorations of Bley, Di Castri and Oxley are so strong on their solo tracks that when they play together, they strike sparks off each other.

Oxley is an extraordinarily melodic drummer, getting a phenomenal range of sounds from his kit, and ...



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