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Book Excerpts

February 23, 2014

The Blue Note: Seattle’s Black Musicians' Union A Pictorial History

By DAVID KELLER

The following is an excerpt from the preface of The Blue Note: Seattle's Black Musicians' Union A Pictorial History by David Keller (Our House Publishing, 2013). This is a story about the hopes and dreams of a small group of African American men and women. They ran their own union in jny: Seattle beginning in the early 1900s. This union was the American Federation of Musicians' Union Local 493. Its members had a dream that they should be able to play their own brand of jazz music and receive a fair wage for this service. They should ...

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January 31, 2014

Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World's Greatest Trombonist

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By HEATHER AUGUSTYN

The following is an excerpt from the “The Known and Unknown" chapter of Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World's Greatest Trombonist by Heather Augustyn (Foreword by Delfeayo Marsalis) (McFarland, 2013). Late one evening in 1985, I was returning to the Brooklyn residence of my eldest brothers Branford and Wynton from a sojourn in Manhattan. As fate would have it, the Jamaican taxi driver recognized my slide trombone and proclaimed, “You know about Don Drummond and the Skatalites?" At that point it occurred to me that I had indeed seen in Branford's collection several albums by ...

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January 4, 2014

How to Know: Spirit Music - Crazy Wisdom, Shamanism And Trips To The Black Sky

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By KEN HYDER

The following is an excerpt from the “Instability as an Aid to Spirit Music" chapter of How to Know by Ken Hyder (Amazon Digital Services, 2013). There is a tension between precision and looseness. In jazz, the tension is minute, but it makes all the difference to whether the music swings or not. In the old days, jazz bands and dance bands often played the same tunes. In a dance band it was usually stiff. And precise. In the jazz band it was loose and diverse among the players, with some players usually playing very ...

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December 16, 2013

Cal Tjader: The Life and Recordings of the Man Who Revolutionized Latin Jazz

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By S. DUNCAN REID

The following is an excerpt from the “Reaching for the Skye" chapter of Cal Tjader: The Life and Recordings of the Man Who Revolutionized Latin Jazz by S. Duncan Reid (McFarland, 2013). Tjader had reached the East Coast by November and on November 17, he arrived at Van Gelder Studio for a session ("Willow Weep for Me" and “Joey Joey") that probably included tenor sax man Jimmy Heath and trumpeter Donald Byrd. Two days later, Heath, Byrd, Kenny Burrell and Armando Peraza, among others, were definitely on hand to produce a powerful pianoless “Afro Blue." In 1959, ...

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August 26, 2013

Beyond A Love Supreme

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By TONY WHYTON

The following is an excerpt from “Composition/Improvisation" chapter of Beyond A Love Supreme by Tony Whyton (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013). Composition/Improvisation A good example of the way in which binaries shift according to context can be seen when A Love Supreme is described either as a composition or an improvisation. Conventionally, jazz is foregrounded as a live improvised art that is the product of spontaneous creation and inspired performers. When great jazz compositions are created, they provide a wealth of material for musicians to play on, and are most often celebrated through the “liveness" of ...

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May 27, 2013

Love for Sale and Other Essays

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By CLIFFORD THOMPSON

This article appears from the story “For Bean" Love for Sale and Other Essays by Clifford Thompson (Autumn House Press, 2013). I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s in a semi-detached brick house in Washington, D.C. The house from which it was not detached belonged to my aunt and uncle; my great-aunt and great-uncle lived in the house on the other side of them; and still another aunt and uncle were up the street. People seldom appreciate what they have when it's there, and it is only now, living in a New York apartment surrounded ...

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April 7, 2013

Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers, and Free Fusioneers: British Jazz, 1960-1975

By DUNCAN HEINING

From Duncan Heining's Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers and Free Fusioneers (Equinox, 2012) and is taken from from Chapter 11, “The Best Things in Life are Free," which discusses free jazz and free improvisation in British jazz. In this section, Heining examines the early work of the avant-garde group AMM and discusses its philosophy and wider influence on jazz and rock music." This excerpt appears by permission of the publisher, Equinox Press. This material is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint. The story of Eddie Prevost ...

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August 14, 2012

Trudy Pitts: Extraordinary Pianist & Master of the Hammond B-3

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By PHERALYN DOVE

[The following is an excerpt from Pheralyn Dove's forthcoming memoir, No Time for Tears: A Book of True Life Stories, and the chapter titled “Today I Cried."]The Student Meets the MasterTalking to keyboardist Trudy Pitts is like going on an adventure. It's the type of escapade where wanderlust, laughter and discovery are all intertwined. Whether on the telephone or in person, the discourse is utterly unpredictable, always exciting. I remember one night we were on the phone, reminiscing about when we met back in 1985. It was during my first month on the job as the ...

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July 3, 2012

The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story

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By GREGG AKKERMAN

[Editor's Note: The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story (Scarecrow Press, 2012), by Gregg Akkerman, is the long-overdue biography of a singer who, amongst other things, achieved considerable fame for his classic collaboration with intrepid saxophonist John Coltrane, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963).] Several years ago I was riding in a car to a jazz gig with a few cohorts when “Lush Life" from the iconic John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album began playing on the stereo. “I heard everything on the album was recorded in one take," said my friend in the ...

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June 25, 2012

The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire

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By TED GIOIA

This article appears in the prologue of The Jazz Standards A Guide to the Repertoire by Ted Gioia (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012).Introduction When I was learning how to play jazz during my teenage years, I kept encountering songs that the older musicians expected me to know. I eventually realized that there were around 200 or 300 of these compositions, and that they served as the cornerstone of the jazz repertoire. A jazz performer needed to learn these songs the same way a classical musician studied the works of Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart.In fact, I ...

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June 22, 2012

Dave Liebman: What It Is - The Life of a Jazz Artist

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By LEWIS PORTER

[The following is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of What It Is: The Life of a Jazz Artist (Scarecrow Press, 2012), by saxophonist Dave Liebman, in conversation with Lewis Porter, author of John Coltrane: His Life and Music (University of Michigan Press, 2000). In it, Liebman and Porter discuss the saxophonist's involvement in the loft scene of the late 1960s/early 1970s in New York City, and creation Free Life Communication with a group of like-minded musicians.This excerpt appears by permission of the publisher, Scarecrow Press. This material is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher ...

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May 8, 2012

Vince Guaraldi at the Piano

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By DERRICK BANG

This article appears in the prologue of Vince Guaraldi at the Piano by Derrick Bang (McFarland Books, 2012).Prologue: “The Sound of Surprise" Saturday, October 4, 1958: shortly after midnight, at the first-ever Monterey Jazz Festival.It had been a busy day; indeed, it was already a long three-day weekend. Headliner Louis Armstrong--introduced by emcee Dizzy Gillespie--had helped lure a crowd of roughly 5,000 jazz fans to Friday evening's opening-night performances, although one critic was much more impressed by an earlier set from pianist Burt Bales' “boisterous, stomping band," with its crowd-pleasing riffs coming from clarinetist ...

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February 11, 2012

Concepts of Pain: The Stuff of the Sixties

By GORDON MARSHALL

This chapter is an excerpt from Naked Mind: On Music and Power, a work in progress by All About Jazz contributor Gordon Marshall. It is said that the '60s ended in 1974, with Richard Nixon's resignation. On the one hand, there was nothing left to believe in. On the other, there was nothing left to protest. Early in the decade, Timothy Leary preached acid politics, thinking that Mao and John F. Kennedy should be sitting in a conference room tripping on LSD, and all the problems of the world would be solved. As it happened, it ...

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January 20, 2012

Why it's so easy for jazz musicians to be "bipolar"

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By DR. JUDITH SCHLESINGER

This excerpt is adapted from The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius (Shrinktunes Media, 2011) by its author, psychologist and All About Jazz columnist Judith Schlesinger. It appears in Chapter 3, “Elastic Madness: One Size Fits All," which explains the ongoing backstage controversy over the definition of so-called mental “illness." This shows how easy it is for jazz musicians to be labeled bipolar, according to the standard psychiatric manual, the DSM-IV, although in reality they may be no such thing.Moody, Mad, or Just Really Creative?We don't need to dive into ...

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