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Books

The latest words on jazz, evaluated by critics who understand the power of jazz writing.

Hitler’s Airwaves: The Inside Story Of Nazi Radio Broadcasting And Propaganda Swing by Horst J.P. Bergmeier & Rainer E. Lotz

Although it has long been known that jazz-that despised “Nigger music”-as well as all other evidence of decadent “cultural Bolshevist-Jewry” were strictly verboten in Nazi Germany, ongoing research has revealed that starting in 1939 Hitler, on the suggestion of Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, approved the restricted use of jazz on short-wave broadcasts specifically aimed … Read More “Hitler’s Airwaves: The Inside Story Of Nazi Radio Broadcasting And Propaganda Swing by Horst J.P. Bergmeier & Rainer E. Lotz”

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Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life by Laurence Bergreen

This is the biggest Armstrong biography yet, and it incorporates a lot of fresh, diligently researched material. For those primarily interested in the music, however, there may be too much about the great man’s private life, his ladies and marijuana, but too little about his musician associates. (Marijuana, after all, was widely used by musicians … Read More “Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life by Laurence Bergreen”

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Charlie Parker: His Music And Life by Carl Woideck

Essentially a minutely detailed analysis of excerpted phrases taken from recordings made between 1940 and 1954, this book opens with a 47-page biographical sketch that takes us from Parker’s birth and childhood through the obscure period marking his years as a developing musician, all the while attempting to clear up the many gaps and contradictions … Read More “Charlie Parker: His Music And Life by Carl Woideck”

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The New Blackwell Guide to Recorded Blues by Edited by John Cowley and Paul Oliver

This massively researched tome benefits from such scholars as Britain’s Paul Oliver and Mike Rowe and Statesiders like Paul Garon, Dick Shurman and John Broven, who recommend 140 “essential” CDs (with erudite appreciations) and a basic library of 560 recordings which, after artist and title listings, feature a brief summary. In Chapter One the editors … Read More “The New Blackwell Guide to Recorded Blues by Edited by John Cowley and Paul Oliver”

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Our Own Sweet Sounds by Robert Cochran

Subtitled “A Celebration of Popular Music in Arkansas,” this slim but proud volume successfully bridges the gap between the coffee table and academic library shelf. Cochran, a celebrated scholar, covers the various styles of past and present Arkansas musicians, supplanting the text with excellent photographs and other illustrations befitting a project originally designed as a … Read More “Our Own Sweet Sounds by Robert Cochran”

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Irving Berlin
Songs from the Melting Pot: The Formative Years, 1907-14 by Charles Hamm

Composer Alec Wilder called Irving Berlin “the best all-around, over-all song writer America has ever had.” Berlin was certainly prolific and successful, dedicating himself ferociously to the art of songwriting for over 50 years-from his first published song, “Marie from Sunny Italy” (1907), to his last show, Mr. President (1962). He could also be ferocious … Read More “Irving Berlin
Songs from the Melting Pot: The Formative Years, 1907-14 by Charles Hamm”

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Life in Double Time: Confessions of an American Drummer by Mike Lankford

Mike Lankford might be dubbed a thinking man’s drummer. As a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop his prose is a cut above the usual music autobiographies. There are a number of excellent descriptions of life on the road, various experiences, gigging with a variety of bands, and some that even delve into the perspective … Read More “Life in Double Time: Confessions of an American Drummer by Mike Lankford”

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Marshal Royal: Jazz Survivor by Marshal Royal & Claire R. Gordon

The first part of this autobiography is unusually valuable for information on the early jazz scene in Los Angeles, particularly the part played by such black musicians as Charlie Echols, Paul Howard, Alton Redd, Jack McVea, Curtis Mosby, James Porter, Baby Lewis, Lawrence Brown and his brother Harold (a pianist), Les Hite, Lionel Hampton, George … Read More “Marshal Royal: Jazz Survivor by Marshal Royal & Claire R. Gordon”

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Stir It Up: Musical Stews from Roots to Jazz by Gene Santoro

Gene Santoro is a fine writer who digs deep to demonstrate how artists’ lives and beliefs have shaped their work. His subjects here range from Haiti’s Voodoo Rock band Boukman Eksperyans and “Afropop Avatar” Manu Dibango through pop/rock names including Paul Simon and Sting to blues and soul icons including Willie Dixon, Sam Cooke and … Read More “Stir It Up: Musical Stews from Roots to Jazz by Gene Santoro”

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