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Hardbopjazz

I need a good jazz book to read.

107 posts in this topic

Just read Oscar Peterson's book. I liked it.

Now I don't know what to pick next.

Any suggestions?

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If you want to change to a critical rather than historical/biographical book, I'd suggest Ted Gioia's Imperfect Art which I'm just finishing.

He has a point of view, but a pretty well reasoned and informed one by my lights.

In the historical/biographical realm, I'd suggest a book someone recently reminded me I enjoyed very much: The Ellington Reader.

--eric

Edited by WNMC

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Bill Crow's books "Jazz Anecdotes," "From Birdland To Broadway."

Oh yeah! a big second on the Crow book.

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If you are interesred in west coast jazz then Ted Gioia's "West Coast Jazz" is an excellent read. It's a serious work but easy to read. It certainly sent me back to my record collection.

Edited by JohnS

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i've just finished reading Hampton Hawes Raise Up Off Me

i just loved this book - a must read

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The Hawes book is great - one of the best jazz autobiographies along with Mingus' problematic but riveting "Beneath the Underdog."

If you're into out music at all, I recommend John Litwieler's "The Freedom Principle." It's a bit dated (written in the mid eighties) but maybe the best book on an era and style of jazz that's not written about much.

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the Art Pepper book

Straight Life.

Pepper as a writer is a phenomenon unto itself. He gives you a sense of just spilling some of this memoire stuff.

Great book.

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One of my favorites is "Reading Jazz" edited by Robert Gottlieb which has excerpts from the Hawes and Pepper and many others like Anita O'Day's bio. Reading this one has led to quite a few worthy purchases.

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Here's the books I have read:

1. John Coltrane-Lewis Porter

2. Milestones-Jack Chambers

3. Ornette Coleman-Peter Wilson

4. Straight No Chaser-Lesile Gourse (Monk)

5. Charlie Parker-Carl Woideck

6. Myself When I'm Real-Gene Santoro (Mingus)

7. Eric Dolphy-Vladimir Simosko

8. Ascension-Eric Nisenson (Coltrane)

9. 'Round About Midnight-Eric Nisenson (Miles)

10. Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life-John Litweiler

11. Thelonious Monk-Thomas Fitterling

12. Bird Lives-Ross Russell

13. Mingus-Brian Priestley

14. The Importance Of Being Eric Dolphy-Raymond Horricks

Currently reading:

15. So What-John Szwed (Miles) (there's a ton of hardcover copies at Amazon for about $2.50 (!) plus shipping ($3.49).

Future reading:

16. Bright Moments-??? (Roland Kirk)

Edited by dave9199

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a bit wordy, but......

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Oh, yes. Best jazz reference book. Big, heavy and invaluable...

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Rosenthal's "Hard Bop" made me a Lee Morgan fan before I ever heard his music. Pretty good book, too.

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Disagree about Grove Jazz. I wrote a long article about its many errors of fact and emphasis when it came out, and as far as I can tell, every one of those goofs is retained in the revised edition. The main problem with Grove Jazz is that to economize they hired a bunch of college students at dirt-cheap rates to write many of their entries, and many of these students then descended on places like the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers, asking questions that made it clear that they barely knew who the person they were writing about actually was. There's some fine stuff in Grove Jazz--e.g. Felicity Howlett's Tatum entry--but the main entry on Jazz is written by James Lincoln Collier (!!) when the regular Grove Dictionary of Music has a superb entry on Jazz by Max Harrison, and any biographical entry you turn to is likely to be a disaster. Again, I don't have my old article at hand, but off the top of my head I recall the end of the Joe Maini entry ("He died after losing a game of Russian roulette"), the Astrud Gilberto entry ("Her work often has an economy of melodic line and a steady momentum akin to that of Basie..."), Al Cohn ("...he played in an uncomplicated style, employing regular phrase lengths and idiomatic bop figures"), Kenny Dorham ("...Dorham rivaled his greatest contemporaries in technical command...") etc. And then there's the omission of Peggy Lee. You're better off with the less ambitious Feather-Gitler Biographical Encyclodpedia of Jazz. I'm sure that on that project much of the scutwork was farmed out too, but at least the surviving co-author was someone in a position to know right from wrong as he looked over the entries that he didn't do himself.

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I'm glad you brought that up, Larry--The Grove is riddled with factual errors and uninformed opinions. Works of such scope will inevitably contain errors, but the Grove is way over any reasonable allowance. I worked on the new Encyclopedia and know how hard Ira strove to avoid errors--still, there are a few, but probably not as many as there used to be when Leonard was in charge.

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Disagree about Grove Jazz. I wrote a long article about its many errors of fact and emphasis when it came out, and as far as I can tell, every one of those goofs is retained in the revised edition. The main problem with Grove Jazz is that to economize they hired a bunch of college students at dirt-cheap rates to write many of their entries, and many of these students then descended on places like the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers, asking questions that made it clear that they barely knew who the person they were writing about actually was. There's some fine stuff in Grove Jazz--e.g. Felicity Howlett's Tatum entry--but the main entry on Jazz is written by James Lincoln Collier (!!) when the regular Grove Dictionary of Music has a superb entry on Jazz by Max Harrison, and any biographical entry you turn to is likely to be a disaster. Again, I don't have my old article at hand, but off the top of my head I recall the end of the Joe Maini entry ("He died after losing a game of Russian roulette"), the Astrud Gilberto entry ("Her work often has an economy of melodic line and a steady momentum akin to that of Basie..."), Al Cohn ("...he played in an uncomplicated style, employing regular phrase lengths and idiomatic bop figures"), Kenny Dorham ("...Dorham rivaled his greatest contemporaries in technical command...") etc. And then there's the omission of Peggy Lee. You're better off with the less ambitious Feather-Gitler Biographical Encyclodpedia of Jazz. I'm sure that on that project much of the scutwork was farmed out too, but at least the surviving co-author was someone in a position to know right from wrong as he looked over the entries that he didn't do himself.

The whole college kid thing: that's how reference books get written so that they don't cost $10,000 when they're done.

A LOT of this sort of work gets done by grad students. Who really wrote those entries in the reference book (you name it)? Who does most of the editing for the Library of America series? Who does most of the donkey work for any scholarly journal you care to name? Who actually did the bench work for that groundbreaking scientific paper?

In many cases NOT the person who gets most of the credit.

A project like this is a HUGE undertaking, and it is to be taken for granted that you'll find things to complain about in there. It is impossible that it would be otherwise.

The background assumption in a lot of this kind of criticism seems to be that the work should be perfect--it just isn't going to be.

Maybe you don't like James Lincoln Collier. Other people do. That's how it is.

--eric

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That may be how some reference books get written, but not all--nor is it excusable, IMO. I have contributed to a number of reference books over the years, as have most of my knowledgeable colleagues. If the publisher wants to do it right, he/she will either pay the extra cost or abandon the project--of all things, a reference book should not reflect ignorance.

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I've been pawing through this hard cover recently- Ben Sidran "Talking Jazz".

TalkingJazzSm.gif

Has anyone ever heard the Public Radio broadcasts of this book's interviews? I believe they might very well be easier to manage in audio rather than a pure oral history translated onto the page as this is. It is a big one, so it's very hard to take while attempting such. ;)

Edited by Man with the Golden Arm

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Apropos books riddled with factual errors, I have not read Sidran's Talking Jazz, but, several years ago, I reviewed his Black Jazz for, I think, The Saturday Review. It read like a cut and paste school paper and was so full of avoidable errors that I had to wonder why it was published.

Perhaps Sidran has learned something about jazz in the meantime, but that earlier book was pitiful. BTW, he became so incensed by my review that he wrote me a two-page, single-spaced letter that whined and cried "foull," but did not dispute any of my findings. :g

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Oh yeah that "Black Talk" book of his was a tough one. It was in fact his doctoral thesis paper as I recall. But as Ben said at the end of 'The Doctor Is In': "be nice to the people on the way up, you're gonna see them on the way back down..." :D

'Talking Jazz' on the other hand is just simply conversational. No fact checking just having at it with some Q&A. A whole host of personalities are here: Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Gillespie, Jon Hendricks, Roach, Betty Carter, McLean, Don Cherry, Rollins, Tyner, Archie Shepp, Hancock, Tony Williams, Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis, DeJohnette and RVG among others. Ben poses some good questions but I'd really like to "hear" it as it feels a bit discombobulated in black and white.

Nate Dorward gives it a good going over at Amazon. :tup

Edited by Man with the Golden Arm

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That may be how some reference books get written, but not all--nor is it excusable, IMO. I have contributed to a number of reference books over the years, as have most of my knowledgeable colleagues. If the publisher wants to do it right, he/she will either pay the extra cost or abandon the project--of all things, a reference book should not reflect ignorance.

I suppose it's possible to read "some" as "nearly all."

--eric

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I suppose it's possible to read "some" as "nearly all."

--eric

Yes, if you want to include volumes of useless books. How can use as a reference a book of unreliable information? Many publishers probably do use students for the preliminary work, but unless that work is thoroughly checked and corrected, the result is worthless. I assume that you think nearly all reference books are worthless.

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WNMC -- You wear me out with your "that's how reference books get written" stuff. You work at an NPR station, right? If some NPR programs aren't very good and/or are run by people who don't really know what they're doing (which I'm sure is the case, given what we hear), would you then say "That's public radio reality -- deal with it"? Further, if I've characterized that reality at all correctly, should that alter the degree of care and diligence with which you try to do YOUR job? (Seems to me like you're saying something like that when it comes to the editors and publishers of reference works.)

Also your "A LOT of this sort of work gets done by grad students etc." skates over a crucial disntinction or two. Some grad students are quite capable of doing such work very well; others are not. It's the job of the editors of the reference work to chose only people who are capable and then oversee their work with a reasonable amount of care. The editors of Grove Jazz apparently did neither of these things, though this presupposes the editors were capable of telling good from bad. In the case of Grove Jazz, that seems not to have been the case. The Dorham entry, for instance, was written by the overall editor of Grove Jazz, Barry Kernfeld.

As for your "Maybe you don't like James Lincoln Collier. Other people do. That's how it is" -- if you read Collier's entry on Jazz in Jazz Grove and Max Harrison's on Jazz from regular Grove and conclude that the differences between them are just a matter of taste, there's little hope for you.

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