June 1999

Emilie Eklin Khair
Passion's Piano: The Eddie Heywood Story

This account of a musician's career is unusual in that it is primarily told by his widow, who, as Butch Thompson notes on the cover, “pulls no punches.” There are a lot of intimate scenes, romantic and domestic, but the extraordinary aspects of Eddie Heywood's musicmaking are seen from the same novel viewpoint. After the great triumph of his “Begin the Beguine,” fate struck a terrorizing blow when the pianist suffered paralysis of his hands. He followed Cole Porter's advice and took to composing—with enormous success—as he overcame his disability to some degree. A two-page listing of his published music includes such big hits as “Canadian Sunset,” “Soft Summer Breeze” and “Land of Dreams.” Records with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Big Crosby and the Andrews Sisters resulted from the fame secured by his 1943 sextet. One piece of information about his early days in Texas is that he played with Boots and His Buddies before joining the Clarence Love band in 1932.

The book (in 8” x 11” format) is lavishly illustrated with photographs from his scrapbooks. A different shot of the pianistic conclave at The Embers between Heywood, Teddy Wilson, Erroll Garner and Earl Hines shows the Fatha apparently cracking one of his famous jokes.

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