Driggs_span3
January/February 2006

Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix
Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop

Despite the fact that Kansas City has long been recognized as one of the most important centers for jazz, this is the first in-depth history of the subject. Driggs and Haddix have worked on this project individually and collectively for decades, and their book is certain to stand as a reference for readers and researchers alike. The early chapters are problematic: The details that are given are mostly about things like turn-of-the-century brothels, while the fact that Kansas City was one of the most important centers for the incubation of ragtime in the 1890s is barely mentioned.

But like a good Basie chart, the narrative gains momentum as it goes along. The authors give an impressive volume of detail about the great KC stylists, moving the spotlight from Bennie Moten, the Blue Devils and Count Basie to Harlan Leonard, Jay McShann and Charlie Parker--while pausing nicely for dozens of lesser figures. The tome culminates with McShann being tracked down on a KC bandstand by draft board officials in 1944 after keeping one step ahead of them for months.

1 Comment

  • Nov 15, 2014 at 12:15PM larrykoen

    Re " this is the first in-depth history of the subject" -- please! Ross Russell's JAZZ STYLE IN KANSAS CITY AND THE SOUTHWEST was published over 30 years earlier, in 1973. Russell also gives, to quote the above review, "an impressive volume of detail about the great KC stylists, moving the spotlight from Bennie Moten, the Blue Devils and Count Basie to Harlan Leonard, Jay McShann and Charlie Parker--while pausing nicely for dozens of lesser figures."

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