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Jazz: A Love Letter

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Jazz: A Love Letter
Frank McGowan
75 Pages
ISBN: #-13: 978-1798827819 ISBN-10: 1798827816
Self Published
2020

Frank McGowan's self-described love letter delivers a Golden Guy's and former semi-professional trumpeter's glance in the proverbial musical rear-view mirror. The highly-entertaining work is chock-filled with reminisces, bump-intos and you-are-there anecdotes that will fascinate jazz lovers—and potential converts, too.

McGowan splendidly details how as a young man he became enthralled with jazz and jazz musicians. Working chronologically and in a marvelously well-written, organized, and engaging way, McGowan, formerly a technical writer for Digital Equipment Corporation and member of their company band, takes us along for the fun ride. The story of jazz has been inhabited by geniuses, characters, and, dare we say eccentrics within those categorizations. McGowan has swung with many. That's what makes this book a fun read.

Now retired and digging jazz from his digs in Sarasota, Florida, McGowan—author of the exceptionally well-received biography of famed jazz trombonist Rick Stepton (Transcendent Trombone, Self Published 2017)—offers tales of decades of a life lived as spectator, occasional performer, and ardent jazz lover. The objects of his affection are the icons—and in some cases, the lesser-known artists and hangers on— of jazz.

The book is personal. However, unlike reading a Trip Advisor's "what-I-did-on-vacation" letter, there is true admiration emanating for the players, tunes, venues and art itself in McGowan's prose. He's not a name-dropper, but, there are many humorous encounters. Some of McGowan's exchanges with the greats are worth the price of admission.

Jazz-related literature is enormous and delivered us truly great writers from Martin Williams to Whitney Balliet, and more recently, Terry Teachout, Will Friedwald, and Gary Giddins. Each have given us their insights, analyses, and anecdotes. With this love letter, rest assured we see the artists and hear the music from more of an Everyman's perspective. If Jack Lemmon, himself a very accomplished jazz pianist, wrote this book, I'd wager it wouldn't be much different. You dig? You will.

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