Hosted by Dr. Gerald Early, Merle King Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University, this monthly club is free and open to anyone interested in exploring jazz through literature.
The Jazz St. Louis Book Club will meet the second Tuesday of each month at 7pm in Nancy’s Jazz Lounge at the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz.
The book club is free and open to anyone willing to read the month’s book, show up, participate, and have a good time! Light refreshments will be provided at the conclusion of each book club meeting.
September 12: Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker
Rick Martin loved music and the music loved him. He could pick up a tune so quickly that it didn’t matter to the Cotton Club boss that he was underage, or to the guys in the band that he was just a white kid. He started out in the slums of LA with nothing, and he ended up on top of the game in the speakeasies and nightclubs of New York. But while talent and drive are all you need to make it in music, they aren’t enough to make it through a life.
by Linda Dahl
Dorothy Baker's Young Man with a Horn is widely regarded as the first jazz novel, and it pulses with the music that defined an era. Baker took her inspiration from the artistry - though not the life - of legendary horn player Bix Beiderbecke, and the novel went on to be adapted into a successful movie starring Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day.
October 10: Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams
In a time when the music of Harlem was beginning to stake a claim on the racially mixed Greenwich Village clientele, Williams, a young black pianist, trained her sights on a more classical venue. In 1947 she reached it, leading Carnegie Hall's New York Philharmonic in a boogie-woogie symphony of her own composition. Williams began her jazz career as a teenager accompany orchestras by ear. She soon taught herself to read and write music and gained a reputation as a masterful arranger. Her influence on the evolution of jazz spanned four decades from ragtime to bop, and can be heard in the works of jazz giants from to Duke Ellington to Charlie Parker. Many musicians attribute her genius, but lasting popular recognition has eluded her.
Dahl's (Stormy Weather) narrative, while well researched, lacks the vibrancy needed to launch Williams to the fame she nearly obtained and so clearly deserves. Using a plethora of quotations, Dahl reconstructs Williams' evolution as a prodigy, a mystic, a bohemian, and a religious convert, but she offers little insight into Williams' character: Dahl tells us that Williams was she, but follows with stories of a very sassy nature; she announces that Williams' telepathic gift haunted her throughout her life, but offers scarce anecdotal evidence. Nonetheless, Dahl's comprehensive appendixes of discography, compositions, and arrangements are a boon to jazz scholars, and despite its defects, this biography remains an important step toward recognizing the achievements of a remarkable woman.
November 14: Kind of Blue:
The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
by Ashley Kahn
Please follow the link below to a review of this book:
December 13: Blues People by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)
"The path the slave took to 'citizenship' is what I want to look at. And I make my analogy through the slave citizen's music -- through the music that is most closely associated with him: blues and a later, but parallel development, jazz... [If] the Negro represents, or is symbolic of, something in and about the nature of American culture, this certainly should be revealed by his characteristic music."
So says Amiri Baraka in the Introduction to Blues People, his classic work on the place of jazz and blues in American social, musical, economic, and cultural history. From the music of African slaves in the United States through the music scene of the 1960's, Baraka traces the influence of what he calls "negro music" on white America -- not only in the context of music and pop culture but also in terms of the values and perspectives passed on through the music. In tracing the music, he brilliantly illuminates the influence of African Americans on American culture and history.
February 13: The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor
The hero of this sensational first novel is an alto-sax virtuoso trying to evolve a personal style out of Coltrane and Rollins. He also happens to be a walking, talking, Blake- and Shakespeare-quoting bear whose musical, spiritual, and romantic adventures add up to perhaps the best novel, ursine or human, ever written about jazz.
"Poignant and touching moments combine with hilarious descriptions of the bear's struggle in a story that anyone ― whether familiar with jazz or not ― will find compelling and entertaining."―David Amram, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Zabor's knack for detail makes the absurd premise believable . . . and neatly turns the weighty subject ― the painful and ungainly growth of an artist ― into a comic gem."―The New Yorker
"In fluent, witty prose Zabor conveys with remarkable vividness the texture of group improvisation. . . . It swings."―A. O. Scott, New York Newsday
"Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. Get the Bear."―David Nicholson, Washington Post
"Zabor . . . conveys the mingled joy and terror of musical improvisation. He also displays a mean wit."―New York Times Book Review
by Mel Torme
Los Angeles Times Book Review's 100 Best Books of 1997
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
March 13: Traps: The Drum Wonder, The Life of Buddy Rich
Now back in print, this bestseller by Mel Torme is a brilliant biography of his friend for forty years, Buddy Rich, who was one of the most famous drummers of the Swing Era, having starred in the Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey bands. His career started when he was two years old in his parents' Vaudeville act, and by the time he was four he was the highest paid child performer in the world. The Buddy Rich story is a fascinating one, as much for what it says about the world of American music and entertainment as for the remarkable life it portrays. Drawing from interviews and many personal reminiscences, Torme packs this biography with vivid, often funny, anecdotes. His personal touch and his in-depth knowledge of jazz make for a moving, insightful, and often hilarious biography.
April 10: Freedom of Expression:
Interviews with Women in Jazz by Chris Becker
Since the arrival of the 21st century, jazz has evolved into a truly cross-generational, multicultural musical art form that is assimilating an unprecedented array of musical styles and techniques. At the same time, the male-dominated paradigm that has defined the historical narrative of jazz is no more. Women are shaking up the music industry while the general public is becoming much more aware of the contributions female musicians have made to jazz. "Freedom ofExpression: Interviews With Women in Jazz," a collection of interviews with 37 female musicians, musicians of all ages, nationalities, and races, and representing nearly every style of jazz one can imagine, provides evidence of this profound evolution. The interviewees, including Terri Lyne Carrington, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eliane Elias, Carmen Lundy, Anat Cohen, Diane Schuur, and Sherrie Maricle, speak about their earliest experiences playing music, the years of practice required to become a professional musician, and what jazz means in the new millennium. These interviews will inform and inspire both casual and seasoned fans of this music, as well as young musicians taking their first steps in the journey to master their craft. “At long last, an in-depth recognition of the female contributions to jazz. As Dr. Billy Taylor said about the lack of awareness of female musicians: ‘If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.’ Now everyone will know that it did happen and continues to happen. What a great gift to the history of women and music.” — Judy Chaikin, director of "The Girls in the Band." The interviewees: Mindi Abair -Saxophones Cheryl Bentyne - Voice Jane Ira Bloom - Soprano Saxophone Samantha Boshnack - Trumpet Dee Dee Bridgewater - Voice Terri Lyne Carrington - Drums Sharel Cassity - Saxophones Anat Cohen - Clarinet, Saxophones Jean Cook -Violin Connie Crothers - Piano Eliane Elias - Piano, Voice Ayelet Rose Gottlieb- Voice Lenae Harris- Cello Val Jeanty - Electronics, Percussion Jan Leder -Flute Jennifer Leitham - Double Bass Carmen Lundy - Voice Sherrie Maricle -Drums Jane Monheit - Voice Jacqui Naylor - Voice Aurora Nealand - Saxophones, Clarinet Iris Ornig - Double Bass Alisha Pattillo - Tenor Saxophone Roberta Piket - Piano Cheryl Pyle - Flute Nicole Rampersaud - Trumpet Sofia Rei - Voice Patrizia Scascitelli - Piano Diane Schuur - Voice Ellen Seeling - Trumpet Helen Sung - Piano Jacqui Sutton - Voice Mazz Swift - Violin, Voice Nioka Workman -Cello Pamela York - Piano Brandee Younger - Harp Malika Zarra – Voice
May 8: Whisper Not: Thy Autobiography of Benny Golson
by Benny Golson
Born during the de facto inaugural era of jazz, saxophonist Benny Golson learned his instrument and the vocabulary of jazz alongside John Coltrane while Golson was still in high school in Philadelphia. Quickly establishing himself as an iconic fixture on the jazz landscape, Golson performed with dozens of jazz greats, from Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, and Jimmy Heath to Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, and many others. An acclaimed composer, Golson also wrote music for Hollywood films and television and composed such memorable jazz standards as “Stablemates,” “Killer Joe,” and “Whisper Not.”
An eloquent account of Golson’s exceptional life—presented episodically rather than chronologically—Whisper Not includes a dazzling collection of anecdotes, memories, experiences, and photographs that recount the successes, the inevitable failures, and the rewards of a life eternally dedicated to jazz.
June 12: Duke Ellington's America by Harvey G. Cohn
Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the international and lasting cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, path-breaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights, equality, and America’s role in the world.
With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of worldwide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business—as well as issues of race, equality and religion. Ellington’s own voice, meanwhile, animates the book throughout, giving Duke Ellington’s America an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account.
By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, Duke Ellington’s America highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music.
Jazz St. Louis is proud to partner again with Left Bank Books for our book club. Most of the books discussed in the Jazz St. Louis Book Club are offered at a 20% discount through LBB, although not every book will beeligible for a discount. All books can be purchased at their Central West End Location or on the LBB website, http://www.left-bank.com/jazz-st-louis.
To RSVP, please contact the Jazz St. Louis Box Office at (314) 571-6000. You may also RSVP through jazzstl.org.
For more details, or if you have any questions, please contact Director of Education and Community Outreach, Phil Dunlap, at email@example.com.