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Books

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

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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American Musicians II: 
Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz by Whitney Balliett

By now Whitney Balliett’s tenure as jazz critic at The New Yorker has lasted nearly 40 years, and in all that time he has hardly changed his methods of portraiture. I suppose you could accuse him of succumbing to a formula—but when the formula is this effective, why bother tinkering with it? The classic Balliett … Read MoreAmerican Musicians II: 
Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz by Whitney Balliett”

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John Coltrane: A Discography and Musical Biography by Yasuhiro Fujioka, with Lewis Porter and Yoh-ichi Hamada

Though these three books center on players whose lives and music are interconnected in various ways, they are dramatically different in focus and style. The first is a discography, the second a detailed tour through a man’s philosophy and music, the third a chronology of a musical community. The Coltrane discography is a magnificent achievement. … Read More “John Coltrane: A Discography and Musical Biography by Yasuhiro Fujioka, with Lewis Porter and Yoh-ichi Hamada”

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Teddy Wilson Talks Jazz by Teddy Wilson with Arie Lithgart & Humphrey van Loo

Although Teddy Wilson’s book was written between 1976 and 1978, its publication was unfortunately delayed by circumstances described in Alyn Shipton’s prefatory note. But better late than never! Short though it is (over 50 pages are devoted to discography and index), it is full of valuable information and quietly astute observation that matches the pianist’s … Read More “Teddy Wilson Talks Jazz by Teddy Wilson with Arie Lithgart & Humphrey van Loo”

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Jazz Styles: History And Analysis by Mark C. Gridley

The search for a truly versatile text for jazz history and style classes can be time consuming and frustrating for those instructors desiring a course of study that can be adapted to musicians and non-musicians. The search can end here with Mark Gridley’s 6th edition of his Jazz Styles: History And Analysis. Gridley has developed … Read More “Jazz Styles: History And Analysis by Mark C. Gridley”

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