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Which jazz book are you reading right now?


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Took the plunge and snapped up the copy on German eBay. After I had bookmarked it the seller sent a message to offer a 8% discount. Nice gesture and though still not cheap it is a wee bit more "affordable" now at some 58 EUR including shipping.

Looking forward to reading it - particularly next time I take time off to spin a series of Savoy twofers. ;)

 

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I think I've managed to find the worst book ever written on jazz in the history of mankind. I stumbled on to it during a search, and was excited by its title, so I ordered it from my local library. The title is "NYC Jazz". I abbreviated the city involved in case the author is out there and wants to murder me.

Has anyone ever uh... read this? It's mainly pictures with unbelievable blurbs written underneath the pictures.

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9 hours ago, sgcim said:

I think I've managed to find the worst book ever written on jazz in the history of mankind. I stumbled on to it during a search, and was excited by its title, so I ordered it from my local library. The title is "NYC Jazz". I abbreviated the city involved in case the author is out there and wants to murder me.

Has anyone ever uh... read this? It's mainly pictures with unbelievable blurbs written underneath the pictures.

From the "Images of America" Arcadia publishing series??

 

 

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On 11/15/2022 at 3:05 AM, Jim Duckworth said:

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I must try to get the book since I had only the Kindle Book when it appeared. I had to buy a Kindle equipment exclusivly to read this book, but I have to read a paper book, I don´t feel well reading it like I read it. 

I must try to get the paper version if there still is any. 
As much as I remember, well I had to cut out some of it, mostly the psychiatric raports and so, since I´m a musician, not a medic . 

And I would have liked more about his music than about all the funky side of his life. 

I have some Bud books:

1)  The Francis Paudras "La Danse Des Infidéles" in french: Paudras mostly stresses the fact that he is the only one who understood Bud and rescued him and all that Buttercup-bashing. In my eyes, he just exagerated the importance of his relation with Bud, and was too naive to see the reality, especially about Bud´s return to the State.

2) Alan Shipton "The Glass Enclosure", well it has some reviews of some records.

3) Carl Smith "All Recordings", which is quite interesting, though I´m not a real collector who must have everything.

4) Guthrey Ramsey "Black Genius", I can´t say much about it´s a bit too hard reading for me to understand..., don´t forget I learned English from reading liner notes and from talkin about music with musicians....

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8 hours ago, sgcim said:

Oh yeah, you got it! Do you have any idea why that POS exists?

I never saw that book you mention. A quick internet search of the title got me on its trail, though.

BUT ... I have several others from that series which I bought when they showed up cheaply on Amazon (waaay less than the $21.99 on their covers): two from totally different areas of collectible interest (which I think were the first I bought from that series and which ARE quite nice for those interested in the subject), and four in fields related to yours:

- KIng Records of Cincinnati

- The Birth of the Detroit Sound 1940-1964

- Chicago Blues

- Pittsburgh Jazz

I took and take them all as pictorial add-ons to the subjects in question and like them for what they are but probably did not expect too much from them in the first place. But even these I have are of variable quality:

I find the King book rather well-done and a good illustration (literally) of anything written on this label, either R&B or Country or Rockabilly or ...

The Detroit Sound book I bought as an extension to the "Before Motown" book by Bjorn and Gallert which I like a lot. It goes in many different directions and is not nearly as focused as Before Motown (and seems very spotty in its coverage) but that may not be a bad thing.

The Pittsburgh Jazz and the Chicago Blues books IMO are a mixed bag. Certainly worth a look and purchase if found at a good price but some of the contents look like a random hodgepodge of apparently rare and intriguing shots on the one hand and a grab bag on aspects often treated elsewhere on the other (the Chicago Blues book in particular). The captions often seem to be aimed at the casual reader who is not necessairly a fanatic music collector. And as for the specific local details mentioned of the respective cities, I am not nearly enough of an expert to judge their full accuracy. But if I were to re-use anything unfamiliar I'd double-check.

But like I said, I would never consider anything from that series the definitive word on the respective subject, but as pictorial add-ons with photographs (preferably) not easily acessible elsewhere they serve a purpose.

 

Edited by Big Beat Steve
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8 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

4) Guthrey Ramsey "Black Genius", I can´t say much about it´s a bit too hard reading for me to understand..., don´t forget I learned English from reading liner notes and from talkin about music with musicians....

Too "scholarly", then?
It wouldn't be the only one among the books that fit this topic. ;)

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The NYC Jazz book has some great jazz pictures in it, but they're interspersed with pictures of the author's parents sitting at dinner tables, WWII service pictures of her father, pictures of her mother with when she was single with two of her single friends with a caption saying this was the last picture of them before they each got married, pictures of Doris Day, Vivian Blaine at the Stork Club,non-jazz singers Betty George, Ann Hathaway, Jeanne Cummins, Betty Brewer and Harriet Hilliard, wife of Ozzie Nelson (Ozzie and Harriet).

There are numerous pictures of Les Paul with the same paragraphs underneath about how he invented multiple tracking, and designed a guitar that is used by prominent rock guitarists, over and over again. A picture of her mother's brother in a bathing suit on the dock of Newark Bay. More pictures of Doris Day and Ann Hathaway, pictures of a scary looking female bass player Vivian Garry, a few pictures of Josephine Premice, a Broadway singer/actress, more pictures of Jeanne Cummins with the society dance band of Bernie Cummins.

Then, for some reason, the book climaxes with huge page-length pictures of Joe Satriani, a rock-fusion guitarist, Eric Clapton smoking a cigarette in the middle of a field,and Jimi Hendrix holding his Stratocaster, smiling at us.

While it does have shots of jazz clubs on 52nd St. with some jazz musicians, there are an equal number of 'society' dance bands with attractive female singers

This is published by Arcadia , which apparently specializes in picture books of various towns and cities- not jazz.

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14 hours ago, Big Beat Steve said:

Too "scholarly", then?
It wouldn't be the only one among the books that fit this topic. ;)

Yeah that could be the transcription. Okay in my own case, if it is more musicians termenology, I would dig it because I play, but I think to remember that one was more about society or sociology and that is not really what I read. 

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17 hours ago, sgcim said:

The NYC Jazz book has some great jazz pictures in it, but they're interspersed with pictures of the author's parents sitting at dinner tables, WWII service pictures of her father, pictures of her mother with when she was single with two of her single friends with a caption saying this was the last picture of them before they each got married, pictures of Doris Day, Vivian Blaine at the Stork Club,non-jazz singers Betty George, Ann Hathaway, Jeanne Cummins, Betty Brewer and Harriet Hilliard, wife of Ozzie Nelson (Ozzie and Harriet).

There are numerous pictures of Les Paul with the same paragraphs underneath about how he invented multiple tracking, and designed a guitar that is used by prominent rock guitarists, over and over again. A picture of her mother's brother in a bathing suit on the dock of Newark Bay. More pictures of Doris Day and Ann Hathaway, pictures of a scary looking female bass player Vivian Garry, a few pictures of Josephine Premice, a Broadway singer/actress, more pictures of Jeanne Cummins with the society dance band of Bernie Cummins.

Then, for some reason, the book climaxes with huge page-length pictures of Joe Satriani, a rock-fusion guitarist, Eric Clapton smoking a cigarette in the middle of a field,and Jimi Hendrix holding his Stratocaster, smiling at us.

While it does have shots of jazz clubs on 52nd St. with some jazz musicians, there are an equal number of 'society' dance bands with attractive female singers

This is published by Arcadia , which apparently specializes in picture books of various towns and cities- not jazz.

This more or less corresponds to the impression of the little-focused hodgepodge of contents I had of the Pittsburgh Jazz book, for example. In the case of the Detroit book I cannot blame them for straying into non-jazz fields (they do!) because the book title doesn't imply it is strictly about jazz. And the Chicago Blues book for my money rambles on too long about the Mississippi Delta "past" of the typical (?) Chicago blues artists' biographies. And then goes on to pillage the Delmark record catalog for odds 'n' sods pics of record covers - as if Delmark was about the only label important to Chicago blues. Not mentioning the fact that overly milking the LOC photo archive is not that big a research feat.

Regarding the texts/captions, in "my" books they are of variable quality, relevance and depth so should be seen as providing glimpses of additional information (none of these books are comprehensive histories). My impression is that some books in this series were done by amateur authors interested in the subject along the lines of "hey I know my stuff so I can write a book too" - which CAN be done by amateur authors - and sometimes better than by certain pro writers, but NOT by everyone out there 😉. (And no - sideswipe at the Chicago book - being an author of cookbooks does not automatically a superlative author of music books make - at least IMO 😉) Which probably is why among the four I have the King Records book (by Randy McNutt) stands out. Even discounting his name the captions  rather more reek of authoritative background knowledge.
But still ... whenever found at the right price (below list price) they all have their value.

As for that "scary looking" Vivian Garry - come on, she wasn't that scary ... See the pics below 🙂 from the same source as Larry Kart's photo (William Gottlieb, in the public domain courtesy of the LOC)

And no - Arcadia does not specialize in jazz (but which publisher does?). But they do cover niche topics that might not find a publisher elsewhere at all. Clearly not the case of the one you unfortunately picked up and not of "my" Chicago Blues book either, but elsewhere that's the point of this series, I think. To give an example: The two first ones from that publisher I ever bought were "Hot Rodding in Ventura County" and "Hot Rodding in Santa Barbara County". I have no connection with these places at all; my point of attraction were the period photographs of the rodding scene and their flair, and this should be the general-interest selling point for many "gearheads" in that milieu everyhwere, regardless of the geographical limitations of the books. And these clearly were done by someone very knowledgeable. In the same way I'd love to see better-done specialized books on a clearly defined place and period of time to cover the local jazz scene, for example.
 

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8 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

Yeah that could be the description. Okay in my own case, if it is more musicians terminology, I would dig it because I play, but I seem to remember that one was more about society or sociology and that is not really what I read. 

Yes, there ARE jazz books like that, some very interesting (because jazz has never existed in a vacuum) and are well-written, but others smell very much of the (political or societal) agenda that the author clearly had and then wrote the book, arranging the facts so that they fit his agenda. And it is not likely that the number of books featuring such an approach will diminish in the "wokeness" days we live in today.  

And then there are those "scholarly" authors out there who seem to be intent on proving that they ARE able to handle (and work into their text) ANY word listed in Webster's (and then some more ...) - and the more high-brow the words, the more often they rate a use in their text. 🤨😄 A real pity if the actual subject of the book is one that you find very fascinating but would like to see not quite as heavily clouded by and cluttered with scholarly linguistic navel gazing.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/14/2022 at 8:20 AM, Ken Dryden said:

That book was a scream, I remember reading it when it was published.

I gave up trying to buy a copy of the Teddy Reig book and got it from the library. It is a fun read! One question: how was/is his last name pronounced?  "Reeg"  "Rige"  "Rague"??

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