Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEWS

Robbie Robertson: Testimony and Michael Nesmith: Infinite Tuesday: an Autobiographical Riff

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Robbie Robertson's Testimony and Michael Nesmith's Infinite Tuesday are both illuminating books, but only in decidedly constricted fashion. The insight each man offers into their respective timelines, as part of and apart from their famous groups, passes through filters of which neither author are wholly cognizant. The lead guitarist and chief songwriter for the Band sounds almost as guileless as his counterpart from the Monkees, but both men (and/or their respective editors) evince artful means in devising a particular slant ...

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The Free Musics by Jack Wright

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The Free Musics Jack Wright 316 Pages ISBN: 1537777246 Spring Garden Music Editions 2017 Saxophonist Jack Wright's first encounter with free jazz occurred in 1967, when a chance meeting with Charlie Haden resulted in Wright's being invited to see Haden play with Ornette Coleman. Wright, who had been a conventional jazz saxophonist, describes the music as having struck him as “chaotic" and the experience as having been “traumatic." Nevertheless, five years later he ...

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I Scare Myself by Dan Hicks

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I Scare Myself Dan Hicks 237 Pages ISBN: 978-1-911036-23-4 Jawbone Books 2017 The late Dan Hicks is described by Kristine McKenna, editor of this rambling but curiously engaging autobiography, as “a musical genius." He wasn't, although he did write some amusing songs and played competent guitar. This and a laconic sense of humour made him an influential figure on the burgeoning jny: San Francisco hippie rock music scene in the 1960s and 70s, ...

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Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium by John Corbett

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Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium John Corbett 264 Pages ISBN: #0822363666 Duke University Press Books 2017 John Corbett is a music critic, record producer, and curator. For twelve years--from 2000 to 2012--he wrote a column titled “Vinyl Freak" for Downbeat magazine, and those collected columns form the backbone of this book. Corbett wrote about out of print LPs in his extensive collection: ranging from the extremely obscure (and in a ...

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Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs by Martin Torgoff

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Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs Martin Torgoff 448 pages ISBN: 0306824752 Da Capo Press 2017 The vilification and suppression of marijuana and narcotics in the U.S. was fueled in the 20th century by a campaign that whipped up fear of “the other"--Mexicans, Caribbean islanders, South Americans and African-Americans. Bop Apocalypse limns the history of this campaign and uses it to frame the story of how our own American “others"--(black and ...

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The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music

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The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music Edited by Nicholas Gebhardt and Tony Whyton 250 Pages ISBN: 978-1-138-780602-0 Routledge 2016 The recording of jazz history has overwhelmingly focused on individuals. Yet while biographies that lionize great jazz men--women are sorely underrepresented--abound, the socio-political environment in which all musicians make and play jazz--the networks and collaborations that help nourish the music--is often ignored, or considered only in passing. In The ...

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Beyond Words by John Prine

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Beyond Words John Prine 179 Pages ISBN: # 978-0-692-74016-3 Oh Boy Records 2016 Anecdotally, Bob Dylan once surmised that John Prine was the last pure folk singer and counts Prine as one of his musical heroes. This statement is tantamount to the similarly anecdotal declaration by Frank Sinatra that Tony Bennett was his favorite singer. Both have the gravity of Jesus finally owning that John was his favorite apostle. All this palaver is ...

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50 Years at the Village Vanguard: Thad Jones, Mel Lewis and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

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50 Years at the Village Vanguard: Thad Jones, Mel Lewis and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra Dave Lisik and Eric Allen 316 Pages ISBN: #9780692808580 SkyDeck 2017 During the heydays of the big bands, people swooned and jitterbugged to the swinging sounds of these large ensembles. Names like Count Basie, Woody Herman, Les Brown, Cab Calloway, Glenn Miller, and Artie Shaw were household names to most folks. Large ballrooms featured the big bands and ...

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Nothing but Love in God's Water by Robert Darden

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Nothing but Love in God's Water--Volume 1: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement Robert Darden 224 Pages ISBN: # 978-0271050843 Penn State Press 2014 Critic Ed Ward's The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965 (Flatiron Books, 2016) is a history written with a very even and broad horizon in mind. Bigger than the blues, country, and soul: rock & roll is an internationally large ...


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