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The Autobiography of Pops Foster: New Orleans Jazzman by Pops Foster/Tom Stoddard

Foster’s colorful account of life in New Orleans at the turn of the century is all the more poignant now in the wake of the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought on the Crescent City. His recollections of the Storyville district, where many jazz musicians made their living by playing in bordellos, are priceless. And his pointed observations about playing lawn parties and funerals back when trumpet kings Buddy Bolden and Freddie Keppard reigned are full of vivid imagery and spiced with a sly wit.

Author Stoddard retains Foster’s colloquial language and N’awlins syntax in his reminiscences of playing on the riverboats with Fate Marable’s band (alongside Louis Armstrong and Baby and Johnny Dodds) or working in New York during the Depression years with Luis Russell, Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Fletcher Henderson and Armstrong. Along the way, from his beginnings as a player to his final gigs in San Francisco during 1960s, the slap-bass pioneer pokes holes in some long-held myths about the jazz scene.

Originally printed in 1971, the book includes a thorough analysis of Foster’s playing style by contrabassist and educator Burtram Turetzky. A new foreword by Ron Carter has been added to this invaluable resource for early jazz fans and scholars alike.

Originally Published