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The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music by Richard Williams

In Richard Williams’ The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music, Williams accomplishes two very difficulty things. First, he proves that despite books and other writings about the Miles Davis classic, there is still so much more to say about that album. Second, Williams, unlike many, has produced a … Read More “The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music by Richard Williams”

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Varistar: Varistar

Three men. Three instruments. Cornet, Tuba, Guitar. It would seem these instruments do not even go together. However, Varistar, a trio, is ambitious and courageous because even recordings with more modern instrumentation have problems filling up the space, making a complete statement that does not lose the listener. You might get lost in this but … Read More “Varistar: Varistar”

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Courtney Pine: Transition in Tradition (En hommage a Sidney Bechet)

England’s Courtney Pine is always trying the music. Years ago, when he took a chance and dipped heavily into dance hall beats on his Closer to Home release, some traditionalists cried foul. But Pine, reaching for his personal roots, played powerful on Closer to Home. The album was full of meaning, and passion, and an … Read More “Courtney Pine: Transition in Tradition (En hommage a Sidney Bechet)”

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Kobie Watkins: Involved

Drummers as leaders often have a difficult time putting their imprint on recordings. Chico Hamilton, the L.A. legend and giant, is the model for today’s drummers. Chicago’s Kobie Watkins on his album, “Involved” takes the leadership idea seriously. He plays, composes, and has assembled a group of very talented players to speak to the masses. … Read More “Kobie Watkins: Involved”

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Highbrow/Lowbrow: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class by David Savran

Of all the sections in Highbrow/Lowbrow:Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class, the section that discusses the legendary American composer George Gershwin followed by a very succinct and compelling account of the groundbreaking black musical,” Shuffle Along,” is the most interesting. Among other things, Savran, a professor at City University of New … Read More “Highbrow/Lowbrow: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class by David Savran”

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Race, Music, and National Identity: Images of Jazz in American Fiction 1920-1960 by Paul McCann

Paul McCann is a scholar, and a Literature scholar at that who does not necessarily come to music naturally in his work. But McCann knows literature and American culture, and he attempts very well to bring jazz and fiction together in Race, Music, and National Identity. The book is a simple task for McCann; he … Read More “Race, Music, and National Identity: Images of Jazz in American Fiction 1920-1960 by Paul McCann”

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The Life and Music of Benny More: Wildman of Rhythm by John Radanovich

Until many read John Radanovich’s biography of Benny More, the late Cuban superstar, they will begin to understand the importance of African strains to jazz music and most of the other music forms that dominate the Americas. It is all here. You will learn of three sacred places of music in the world in The … Read MoreThe Life and Music of Benny More: Wildman of Rhythm by John Radanovich”

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Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and the Birth of Concert Jazz by John Howland

Anyone who has studied or read about the compositional output of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington always wondered how Ellington became so prolific in writing long form jazz compositions. Yet, more importantly, some (myself included) wondered why. John Howland’s book, Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and the Birth of Concert Jazz provides an answer. … Read More “Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and the Birth of Concert Jazz by John Howland”

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Stompin’ at the Grand Terrace by Phillip S. Bryant

Poetry collections about jazz, or in the jazz idiom are abundant and almost always special. (Full disclosure: your author published one in 2001, so I adore these efforts). Poet and English professor Phillip S. Bryant’s Stompin’ at the Grand Terrace is slightly different because it is “jazz memoir in verse” meaning it is about jazz … Read More “Stompin’ at the Grand Terrace by Phillip S. Bryant”

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Subway Moon by Roy Nathanson

Subway Moon, saxophonist’s Roy Nathanson’s very engaging collection of poetry, begins in German. You will be taken a back by it at first if you don’t understand the language, but don’t fret; Nathanson’s accessible verse is forthcoming, Or as Jeff Friedman notes in the Introduction to this collection: Roy Nathanson “scores silence with words and … Read More “Subway Moon by Roy Nathanson”

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Stanley Clarke: Standards

Last year when bassist Stanley Clarke hit the road with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and banjo player Bela Fleck, it was another moment when you had to applaud Clarke’s aesthetic courage. Never one to fear the opportunity to move beyond the expected, the critically acclaimed tour by the trio proved again that Stanley Clarke is a … Read More “Stanley Clarke: Standards”

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The Caribbean Jazz Project: Mosaic

The Caribbean Jazz Project has carved out its self-explanatory niche since vibraphonist Dave Samuels founded the group in 1993. Mosaic, the band’s latest release, is more of what CJP has been doing for years now, and some of the less faithful will not be overwhelmed. But Mosaic is carefully constructed, flows easily and is full … Read More “The Caribbean Jazz Project: Mosaic”

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Dvorák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America’s Music and Its African-American Roots by Maurice Peress

There is a subtle theme running throughout classical conductor Maurice Peress’ new book: Did legendary Czech composer Antonin Dvorák’s brief visit to America at the turn of the century influence the direction of jazz composition into the Ellington era? When you read Peress’ well-documented prose you will know this proposition cannot be dismissed lightly. Peress … Read More “Dvorák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America’s Music and Its African-American Roots by Maurice Peress”

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