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You Can’t Steal a Gift—Dizzy, Clark, Milt and Nat by Gene Lees

Even though Gene Lees wasn’t present at the creation of jazz, he knew most its originators, and there are few chroniclers of jazz left who can say that.

One of them, Nat Hentoff, writes in the foreword of Lee’s latest book, You Can’t Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt and Nat, that Lees is not just a jazz critic or journalist, but a musician, singer and lyricist who, unlike most who write about jazz, is one of the family. It’s clear in these lovingly crafted stories of four great musicians that Lees thought of them as much more than names on marquees or magazines. Don’t come to this book expecting to find “objective” journalism, but that’s not to say that the book is an exercise in hagiography.

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