Throughout his life, Charlie Parker personified the tortured American artist: a revolutionary performer who used his alto saxophone to create a new music known as bebop even as he wrestled with a drug addiction that would lead to his death at the age of thirty-four.
Drawing on interviews with peers, collaborators, and family members, Kansas City Lightning recreates Parker’s Depression-era childhood; his early days navigating the Kansas City nightlife, inspired by lions like Lester Young and Count Basie; and on to New York, where he began to transcend the music he had mastered. Crouch reveals an ambitious young man torn between music and drugs, between his domineering mother and his impressionable young wife, whose teenage romance with Charlie lies at the bittersweet heart of this story.
With the wisdom of a jazz scholar, the cultural insights of an acclaimed social critic, and the narrative skill of a literary novelist, Stanley Crouch illuminates this American master as never before.
Jazz Child: A Portrait of Sheila Jordan, as the first complete biography about this remarkable singer’s life, reveals the challenges she confronted, from her growing up poor in a Pennsylvania coal mining town to her rise as a bebop singer in Detroit and New York City during the 1950s to her work as a recording artist and performer under the influence of and in performance with such jazz luminaries as Charlie Parker, George Russell, Lennie Tristano, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, and Thelonious Monk. Jordan’s views as a woman living the jazz life in an era of racial and gender discrimination while surrounded by those often struggling with the twin evils of alcohol and drug abuse are skillfully woven into the tapestry of the tale she tells.
With Jordan’s full cooperation, author Ellen Johnson documents the fascinating career of this jazz great, who stands today as one of the most deeply respected jazz singers and educators. For jazz fans, Johnson’s biography is a testament to a vanishing generation of musicians and her indomitable spirit is an inspiration to all walks of life.
(1894–1970) was a virtuoso guitarist who influenced generations of musicians
from Django Reinhardt to Eric Clapton to Bill Wyman and especially B. B.
King. Born in New Orleans, he began playing violin and guitar in his father’s
band at an early age. When most of his family was wiped out by the 1918 flu
epidemic, he and his surviving brother moved to St. Louis, where he won a
blues contest that included a recording contract. His career was launched. Johnson can be heard on many Duke Ellington
and Louis Armstrong records, including the latter’s famous “Savoy Blues” with
the Hot Five. He is perhaps best known for his 12-string guitar solos and his
ground-breaking recordings with the white guitarist Eddie Lang in the late
1920s. After World War II he began playing rhythm and blues and continued to
record and tour until his death. This
is the first full-length work on Johnson. Dean Alger answers many
biographical mysteries, including how many members of Johnson’s large family
were left after the epidemic. It also places Johnson and his musical
contemporaries in the context of American race relations and argues for the
importance of music in the fight for civil rights. Finally, Alger analyzes
Johnson’s major recordings in terms of technique and style. Distribution of
an accompanying music CD will be coordinated with the release of this book.
Thelonious Monk is the critically acclaimed, gripping saga of an artist’s struggle to “make it” without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the twentieth century. To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest composers. Elegantly written and rich with humor and pathos, Thelonious Monk is the definitive work on modern jazz’s most original composer.
This book carefully follows the journey of the Grammy-nominated vocalist from his big band origins with Earl Hines and Dizzy Gillespie to featured soloist in prestigious supper clubs throughout the world. Through exclusive interviews with Hartman’s family and fellow musicians (including Tony Bennett, Billy Taylor, Kurt Elling, Jon Hendricks, and others), accounts from friends and associates, newly discovered recordings and studio outtakes, and in-depth research on his career and personal life, Akkerman expertly recollects the Hartman character as a gentleman, romantic, family man, and constant contributor to the jazz scene. From his international concerts in Japan, Australia, and England to his steady presence as an American nightclub singer that spanned five decades, Hartman personifies the “last balladeer” of his kind, singing with a sentiment that captured the attention of Clint Eastwood, who brought Hartman’s songs to the masses in the film The Bridges of Madison County.
In the first full-length biography and discography to chronicle the rhapsodic life and music of Johnny Hartman, the author completes a previously missing dimension of vocal-jazz history by documenting Hartman as the balladeer who crooned his way into so many hearts. Backed by impeccable research but conveyed in a conversational style, this book will interest not only musicians and scholars but any fan of the Great American Songbook and the singers who brought it to life.
Clawing at the Limits of Cool is the first book to focus on Davis and Coltrane's musical interaction and its historical context, on the ways they influenced each other and the tremendous impact they've had on culture since then. It chronicles the drama of their collaboration, from their initial historic partnership to the interlude of their breakup, during which each man made tremendous progress toward his personal artistic goals. And it continues with the last leg of their journey together, a time when the Miles Davis group, featuring John Coltrane, forever changed the landscape of jazz.
Authors Farah Jasmine Griffin and Salim Washington examine the profound implications that the Davis/Coltrane collaboration would have for jazz and African American culture, drawing parallels to the changing standards of African American identity with their public personas and private difficulties. With vastly different personal and musical styles, the two men could not have been more different. One exemplified the tough, closemouthed cool of the fifties while the other made the transition during this time from unfocused junkie to a religious pilgrim who would inspire others to pursue spiritual enlightenment in the coming decade.
Their years together mark a watershed moment, and Clawing at the Limits of Cool draws on both cultural history and precise musical detail to illuminate the importance that their collaboration would have for jazz and American history as a whole.