Jazz St. Louis Book Club

hosted by Dr. Gerald Earlygerald-early

Jazz St. Louis is proud to be able to continue its book club for the upcoming 2017-18 Jazz St. Louis season. This year’s club will focus on nine amazing books, ranging from histories and biographies, to autobiographies and novels (titles and dates below). Each book has been carefully selected by the book club’s facilitator, Dr. Gerald Early, Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, Professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies, Director of the Center for Humanities, and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at Washington University.

The Jazz St. Louis Book Club will meet the second Tuesday of each month at 7 pm in Nancy’s Jazz Lounge at the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz, 3536 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63103.

The rules are simple. The club is free and open to anyone willing to read the month’s book, show up, participate, and have a good time! Light refreshments will be provided at the conclusion of each book club meeting. While we encourage everyone to participate each month, there is no requirement that you commit to read each book and attend all the club meetings.

To sign up for the book club, contact the Jazz St. Louis box office at 314.571.6000. You can sign up for each individual month, or for the entire four-book series. Although the book club is free, a ticket is required and can be obtained through the box office for each session, or by clicking HERE.

Questions can be emailed to phil@jazzstl.org.

Parking: unfortunately, does not have a dedicated parking lot available for book club members, but there is plenty of paid parking available on the street or other various surface lots.CK HERE TO SECURE YOUR COMPLIMENTARY TICKET TO THE BOOK CLUB TO ANY OF THE SESSIONS

 

THE BOOKS

While the books can be purchased anywhere, the official retail partner of the book club is Left Bank Books (LBB). The books will be offered at a 20% discount through LBB the month before and the month of the meeting, unless otherwise noted.  All books can be purchased at their Central West End Location or on the LBB website.

Jazz St. Louis Book Club at Left Bank Books

  Click on each title to reserve a ticket for that specific book’s date.

September 12 – Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker

Rick Martin loved music and the music loved him. He could pick up a tune so quickly that it didn’t matter to the Cotton Club boss that he was underage, or to the guys in the band that he was just a white kid. He started out in the slums of LA with nothing, and he ended up on top of the game in the speakeasies and nightclubs of New York. But while talent and drive are all you need to make it in music, they aren’t enough to make it through a life.
 
Dorothy Baker’s Young Man with a Horn is widely regarded as the first jazz novel, and it pulses with the music that defined an era. Baker took her inspiration from the artistry–though not the life–of legendary horn player Bix Beiderbecke, and the novel went on to be adapted into a successful movie starring Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day.
 

October 10 – Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams by Linda Dahl

In a time when the music of Harlem was beginning to stake a claim on the racially mixed Greenwich Village clientele, Williams, a young black pianist, trained her sights on a more classical venue. In 1947 she reached it, leading Carnegie Hall’s New York Philharmonic in a boogie-woogie symphony of her own composition. Williams began her jazz career as a teenager accompany orchestras by ear. She soon taught herself to read and write music and gained a reputation as a masterful arranger. Her influence on the evolution of jazz spanned four decades from ragtime to bop, and can be heard in the works of jazz giants from to Duke Ellington to Charlie Parker. Many musicians attribute her genius, but lasting popular recognition has eluded her.

Dahl’s (Stormy Weather) narrative, while well researched, lacks the vibrancy needed to launch Williams to the fame she nearly obtained and so clearly deserves. Using a plethora of quotations, Dahl reconstructs Williams’ evolution as a prodigy, a mystic, a bohemian, and a religious convert, but she offers little insight into Williams’ character: Dahl tells us that Williams was she, but follows with stories of a very sassy nature; she announces that Williams’ telepathic gift haunted her throughout her life, but offers scarce anecdotal evidence. Nonetheless, Dahl’s comprehensive appendixes of discography, compositions, and arrangements are a boon to jazz scholars, and despite its defects, this biography remains an important step toward recognizing the achievements of a remarkable woman

November 14 – Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece by Ashley Kahn

 
This acclaimed tribute to the most popular jazz album of all time is now available in a beautiful 50th anniversary edition, complete with a new afterword by Ashley Kahn. Featuring transcriptions of the unedited session tapes; in-depth interviews with musicians; freshly discovered Columbia Records files; never-before-seen photographs, and more, Kind of Blue is a vital piece of music history-and will be essential for fans and scholars for years to come.
 

 

 

 

December 13 – Blues People by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)

“The path the slave took to ‘citizenship’ is what I want to look at. And I make my analogy through the slave citizen’s music — through the music that is most closely associated with him: blues and a later, but parallel development, jazz… If] the Negro represents or is symbolic of, something in and about the nature of American culture, this certainly should be revealed by his characteristic music.”

So says Amiri Baraka in the Introduction to Blues People, his classic work on the place of jazz and blues in American social, musical, economic, and cultural history. From the music of African slaves in the United States through the music scene of the 1960’s, Baraka traces the influence of what he calls “negro music” on white America — not only in the context of music and pop culture but also in terms of the values and perspectives passed on through the music. In tracing the music, he brilliantly illuminates the influence of African Americans on American culture and history.

February 13 – The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor

The hero of this sensational first novel is an alto-sax virtuoso trying to evolve a personal style out of Coltrane and Rollins. He also happens to be a walking, talking, Blake- and Shakespeare-quoting bear whose musical, spiritual, and romantic adventures add up to perhaps the best novel, ursine or human, ever written about jazz. “Poignant and touching moments combine with hilarious descriptions of the bear’s struggle in a story that anyone whether familiar with jazz or not will find compelling and entertaining.” David Amram, Los Angeles Times Book Review “Zabor’s knack for detail makes the absurd premise believable . . . and neatly turns the weighty subject the painful and ungainly growth of an artist into a comic gem.” The New Yorker “In fluent, witty prose Zabor conveys with remarkable vividness the texture of group improvisation. . . . It swings.” A. O. Scott, New York Newsday “Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. Get the Bear.” David Nicholson, Washington Post “Zabor . . . conveys the mingled joy and terror of musical improvisation. He also displays a mean wit.” New York Times Book Review One of the Los Angeles Times Book Review’s 100 best books of 1997 Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction”

March 13, 2018 – Traps: The Drum Wonder, The Life of Buddy Rich by Mel Torme

Now back in print, this bestseller by Mel Torme is a brilliant biography of his friend for forty years, Buddy Rich, who was one of the most famous drummers of the Swing Era, having starred in the Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey bands. His career started when he was two years old in his parents’ Vaudeville act, and by the time he was four he was the highest paid child performer in the world. The Buddy Rich story is a fascinating one, as much for what it says about the world of American music and entertainment as for the remarkable life it portrays. Drawing from interviews and many personal reminiscences, Torme packs this biography with vivid, often funny, anecdotes. His personal touch and his in-depth knowledge of jazz make for a moving, insightful, and often hilarious biography.

 

 

April 10, 2018 – Freedom of Expression: Interviews with Women in Jazz by Chris Becker

Since the arrival of the 21st century, jazz has evolved into a truly cross-generational, multicultural musical art form that is assimilating an unprecedented array of musical styles and techniques. At the same time, the male-dominated paradigm that has defined the historical narrative of jazz is no more. Women are shaking up the music industry while the general public is becoming much more aware of the contributions female musicians have made to jazz. “Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz,” a collection of interviews with 37 female musicians, musicians of all ages, nationalities, and races, and representing nearly every style of jazz one can imagine, provides evidence of this profound evolution. The interviewees, including Terri Lyne Carrington, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eliane Elias, Carmen Lundy, Anat Cohen, Diane Schuur, and Sherrie Maricle, speak about their earliest experiences playing music, the years of practice required to become a professional musician, and what jazz means in the new millennium. These interviews will inform and inspire both casual and seasoned fans of this music, as well as young musicians taking their first steps in the journey to master their craft. “At long last, an in-depth recognition of the female contributions to jazz. As Dr. Billy Taylor said about the lack of awareness of female musicians: ‘If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.’ Now everyone will know that it did happen and continues to happen. What a great gift to the history of women and music.” — Judy Chaikin, director of “The Girls in the Band.” The interviewees: Mindi Abair -Saxophones Cheryl Bentyne – Voice Jane Ira Bloom – Soprano Saxophone Samantha Boshnack – Trumpet Dee Dee Bridgewater – Voice Terri Lyne Carrington – Drums Sharel Cassity – Saxophones Anat Cohen – Clarinet, Saxophones Jean Cook -Violin Connie Crothers – Piano Eliane Elias – Piano, Voice Ayelet Rose Gottlieb- Voice Lenae Harris- Cello Val Jeanty – Electronics, Percussion Jan Leder -Flute Jennifer Leitham – Double Bass Carmen Lundy – Voice Sherrie Maricle -Drums Jane Monheit – Voice Jacqui Naylor – Voice Aurora Nealand – Saxophones, Clarinet Iris Ornig – Double Bass Alisha Pattillo – Tenor Saxophone Roberta Piket – Piano Cheryl Pyle – Flute Nicole Rampersaud – Trumpet Sofia Rei – Voice Patrizia Scascitelli – Piano Diane Schuur – Voice Ellen Seeling – Trumpet Helen Sung – Piano Jacqui Sutton – Voice Mazz Swift – Violin, Voice Nioka Workman -Cello Pamela York – Piano Brandee Younger – Harp Malika Zarra – Voice

May 8, 2018 – Whisper Not: The Autobiography of Benny Golson by Benny Golson

“One of the greatest artists our country has is Benny Golson. He is not only a great musician but an original and fabulous composer. He is inventive and creative and his work is loved the world over. Benny is a rare, creative genius. All I would like to say is THREE CHEERS for Benny Golson ” Tony Bennett “Composer supreme, tenor man supreme, jazz man supreme, good guy supreme: that’s BENNY GOLSON ” ” Sonny RollinsBorn during the de facto inaugural era of jazz, saxophonist Benny Golson learned his instrument and the vocabulary of jazz alongside John Coltrane while Golson was still in high school in Philadelphia. Quickly establishing himself as an iconic fixture on the jazz landscape, Golson performed with dozens of jazz greats, from Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, and Jimmy Heath to Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, and many others. An acclaimed composer, Golson also wrote music for Hollywood films and television and composed such memorable jazz standards as Stablemates, Killer Joe, and Whisper Not. An eloquent account of Golson’s exceptional life presented episodically rather than chronologically “Whisper Not “includes a dazzling collection of anecdotes, memories, experiences, and photographs that recount the successes, the inevitable failures, and the rewards of a life eternally dedicated to jazz.

June 12, 2018 – Duke Ellington’s America by Harvey G. Cohn

Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the international and lasting cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, path-breaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights, equality, and America’s role in the world.

With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle-class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of worldwide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business–as well as issues of race, equality and religion. Ellington’s own voice, meanwhile, animates the book throughout, giving Duke Ellington’s America an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account.

 
By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, Duke Ellington’s America highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music.

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