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Jazz Perspectives

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Jazz Perspectives

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After Django

Making Jazz in Postwar France

Tom Perchard

How did French musicians and critics interpret jazz—that quintessentially American music—in the mid-twentieth century? How far did players reshape what they learned from records and visitors into more local jazz forms, and how did the music figure in those angry debates that so often suffused French cultural and political life? After Django begins with the famous interwar triumphs of Josephine Baker and Django Reinhardt, but, for the first time, the focus here falls on the French jazz practices of the postwar era. The work of important but neglected French musicians such as André Hodeir and Barney Wilen is examined in depth, as are native responses to Americans such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. The book provides an original intertwining of musical and historical narrative, supported by extensive archival work; in clear and compelling prose, Perchard describes the problematic efforts towards aesthetic assimilation and transformation made by those concerned with jazz in fact and in idea, listening to the music as it sounded in discourses around local identity, art, 1968 radicalism, social democracy, and post colonial politics.

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Dameronia

The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron

Paul Combs

Dameronia is the first authoritative biography of Tadd Dameron, an important and widely influential figure in jazz history as one of the most significant composers and arrangers of jazz, swing, bebop, and big band. He arranged for names like Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, and Dizzy Gillespie and played with Bull Moose Jackson and Benny Golson. This book sets out to clarify Dameron's place in the development of jazz in the post–World War II era. It also attempts to shed light on the tragedy of his retreat from the center of jazz activity in the 1950s. By tracing Dameron's career, one finds that until 1958, when he was incarcerated for drug related offenses, he was at the forefront of developments in jazz, sometimes anticipating trends that would not develop fully for several years. Dameron was also an important influence on several high-profile musicians, including Miles Davis, Benny Golson, and Frank Foster. Dameron was a very private man, and while in some aspects of his life he will probably remain an enigma, this book manages to give an intimate portrait of his life at a couple of key stages: the height of his career in 1949 and the brief but productive period between his release from prison and his death.

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Four Jazz Lives

A. B. Spellman

This new and retitled edition of A. B. Spellman's long-out-of-print Four lives in the Bebop Business brings a classic work on jazz back to life, and shines a light on four musicians who've finally gotten their due. In 1966, at the height of the avant-garde and the year of the first edition, the subjects of Spellman's interviews for the book—Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Nichols, and Jackie McLean—were considered too subtle, complex, or difficult, certainly far from the comfortable melodies of more mainstream artists. Nearly forty years later, in the new edition, Spellman notes the capriciousness of the jazz industry and writes of darker cultural currents, "the most sinister of which is the gross indifference with which America receives those aspects of Afro-American culture that are not 'entertaining.'" Now that the world has caught up to the talents of Taylor, Coleman, Nichols, and McLean, Four Jazz Lives not only celebrates their musical genius but reminds us again of the permanent place they occupy in the pantheon of jazz greats. A. B. Spellman is a well-known author, poet, critic, and instructor. He has published numerous books and articles on the arts, including Art Tatum: A Critical Biography and The Beautiful Days.

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Jazz and Machine-Age Imperialism

Music, "Race," and Intellectuals in France, 1918-1945

Jeremy F. Lane

Jeremy F. Lane’s Jazz and Machine-Age Imperialism is a bold challenge to the existing homogenous picture of the reception of American jazz in world-war era France. Lane’s book closely examines the reception of jazz among French-speaking intellectuals between 1918 and 1945 and is the first study to consider the relationships, sometimes symbiotic, sometimes antagonistic, between early white French jazz critics and those French-speaking intellectuals of color whose first encounters with the music in those years played a catalytic role in their emerging black or Creole consciousness. Jazz’s first arrival in France in 1918 coincided with a series of profound shocks to received notions of French national identity and cultural and moral superiority. These shocks, characteristic of the era of machine-age imperialism, had been provoked by the first total mechanized war, the accelerated introduction of Taylorist and Fordist production techniques into European factories, and the more frequent encounters with primitive “Others” in the imperial metropolis engendered by interwar imperialism. Through close readings of the work of early white French jazz critics, alongside the essays and poems of intellectuals of color such as the Nardal sisters, Léon-Gontran Damas, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and René Ménil, Jazz and Machine-Age Imperialism highlights the ways in which the French reception of jazz was bound up with a series of urgent contemporary debates about primitivism, imperialism, anti-imperialism, black and Creole consciousness, and the effects of American machine-age technologies on the minds and bodies of French citizens.

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John Lewis and the Challenge of "Real" Black Music

Christopher Coady

For critics and listeners, the reception of the 1950s jazz-classical hybrid Third Stream music has long been fraught. In John Lewis and the Challenge of “Real” Black Music, Christopher Coady explores the work of one of the form’s most vital practitioners, following Lewis from his role as an arranger for Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool sessions to his leadership of the Modern Jazz Quartet, his tours of Europe, and his stewardship of the Lenox School of Jazz.

Along the way Coady shows how Lewis’s fusion works helped shore up a failing jazz industry in the wake of the 1940s big band decline, forging a new sound grounded in middle-class African American musical traditions. By taking into account the sociocultural milieu of the 1950s, Coady provides a wider context for understanding the music Lewis wrote for the Modern Jazz Quartet and sets up new ways of thinking about Cool Jazz and Third Stream music more broadly.

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Music Is My Life

Louis Armstrong, Autobiography, and American Jazz

Daniel Stein

Music Is My Life is the first comprehensive analysis of Louis Armstrong's autobiographical writings (including his books, essays, and letters) and their relation to his musical and visual performances. Combining approaches from autobiography theory, literary criticism, intermedia studies, cultural history, and musicology, Daniel Stein reconstructs Armstrong's performances of his life story across various media and for different audiences, complicating the monolithic and hagiographic views of the musician. The book will appeal to academic readers with an interest in African American studies, jazz studies, musicology, and popular culture, as well as general readers interested in Armstrong's life and music, jazz, and twentieth-century entertainment. While not a biography, it provides a key to understanding Armstrong's oeuvre as well as his complicated place in American history and twentieth-century media culture.

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Rhythm is Our Business

Jimmie Lunceford and the Harlem Express

Eddy Determeyer

In the 1930s, swing music reigned, and the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra was the hottest and hippest attraction on the black dance circuits. Known for its impeccable appearance and infectious rhythms, Lunceford's group was able to out-swing and outdraw any band. For ten consecutive years, they were the best-loved attraction at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater. The group's hit recordings sold in the hundreds of thousands, and Jimmie Lunceford's band rivaled Ellington's for popularity in the African American community. Jimmie Lunceford was also an innovator, elevating big-band showmanship to an art and introducing such novel instruments as the electric guitar and bass. The band's arrangements, written by Sy Oliver, Edwin Wilcox, Gerald Wilson, Billy Moore, Jr., and Tadd Dameron, were daring and forward looking, influencing generations of big-band writers. Rhythm Is Our Business traces the development of the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra from its infant days as a high school band in Memphis to its record-breaking tours across the United States, Canada, and Europe. The book also unveils Lunceford's romantic yet ill-fated involvement with Yolande Du Bois, daughter of famous writer and opinion leader W.E.B. Du Bois. And by reconstructing Lunceford's last day, the book offers a glimpse into the mysteries surrounding the leader's untimely death. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the history and legacy of swing. Eddy Determeyer has been a freelance music journalist for more than three decades. In 1984 Determeyer wrote a seven-part series on Jimmie Lunceford for the Dutch magazine Jazz Nu. Determeyer has written thousands of articles on music for a variety of Dutch publications and is the author of several books. He currently produces the Holiday for Hipsters radio show for Dutch station Concertzender. Cover image: Lunceford brass section, ca. late 1936. Left to right: Paul Webster, Eddie Durham, Sy Oliver, Elmer Crumbley, Eddie Tompkins, Russell Bowles. (Bertil Lyttkens Collection)

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Someone to Watch Over Me

The Life and Music of Ben Webster

Frank Büchmann-Møller

For a half century, Ben Webster, one of the "big three" of swing tenors-along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young-was one of the best-known and most popular saxophonists. Early in his career, Webster worked with many of the greatest orchestras of the time, including those led by Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk, Bennie Moten, and Teddy Wilson. In 1940 Webster became Duke Ellington's first major tenor soloist, and during the next three years he played on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail." Someone to Watch Over Me tells, for the first time, the complete story of Ben Webster's brilliant and troubled career. For this comprehensive study of Webster, author Frank Büchmann-Møller interviewed more than fifty people in the United States and Europe, and he includes numerous translated excerpts from European periodicals and newspapers, none previously available in English. In addition, the author studies every known Webster recording and film, including many private recordings from Webster's home collection not available to the public. Exhaustively researched, this is a much needed and long overdue study of the life and music of one of jazz's most important artists.

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