The Devil's Horn: The Story of the Saxophone, from Noisy Novelty to King of Cool

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In The Devil's Horn, Michael Segell traces the 160-year history of the saxophone-a horn that created a sound never before heard in nature, and that from the moment it debuted has aroused both positive and negative passions among all who hear it. The saxophone has insinuated itself into virtually every musical idiom that has come along since its birth as well as into music with traditions thousands of years old. But it has also been controversial, viewed as a symbol of decadence, immorality and lasciviousness: it was banned in Japan, saxophonists have been sent to Siberian lockdown by Communist officials, and a pope even indicted it.

Segell outlines the saxophone's fascinating history while he highlights many of its legendary players, including Benny Carter, Illinois Jacquet, Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Branford Marsalis, and Michael Brecker. The Devil's Horn explores the saxophone's intersections with social movement and change, the innovative acoustical science behind the instrument, its struggles in the world of "legit" music, and the mystical properties that seduce all who fall under its influence. Colorful, evocative, and richly informed, The Devil's Horn is an ingenious portrait of one of the most popular instruments in the world.

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About the author

Michael Segell is an editor at the Daily News, an amateur percussionist and saxophone player, and a professional music lover. He lives with his wife and children in New York City and Long Eddy, New York.

Michael Segell's writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, and Esquire, where he wrote the popular column "The Male Mind" for three years. He has received two National Magazine Award nominations for his work.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Oct 15, 2005
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781429930871
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / History & Criticism
Music / Musical Instruments / Woodwinds
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Three decades after American women changed their strategy in the battle of the sexes, how do men really feel? About themselves? About feminism? Is it still possible for men to be heroes? Aggressive pursuers of status and dominance--their traditional goals? In this candid dispatch from the front lines of the gender war, journalist Michael Segell delivers some provocative answers.
        As a columnist for Esquire and an editor at Cosmopoli-tan, Segell began to document a serious disconnect between American men and women, a seemingly unbridgeable divide between what men and women say in public about sexual roles and their very real private thoughts and desires. Women today expect that they will be fulfilled both professionally and personally. But often, Segell found, men are secretly too angry and resentful to woo, or stay married to, women they view as competitors. The result for men: a passive-aggressive approach to women, a historic aversion to intimacy (the euphemistic "lack of commitment"), and a rapidly declining marriage rate. Even, astonishingly, a new mode of payback: sexual withholding.
        After interviewing disaffected combatants, married and single, on both sides of the ideological divide and tracing the causes of men's pain and confusion, Segell embarked upon a search for the kind of man who can end this sexual stalemate--a man who doesn't retreat from successful women. Over time, a portrait resolved: Both a lover and a fighter, he's tough and competitive yet loving and compassionate, stoic yet emotionally sophisticated, skilled in the bedroom and the boardroom. In short, a standup guy.
        Deep in an all-male universe--at men's retreats and in locker rooms--Segell limns the evolution of a new masculinity, a model that reaffirms traditional male virtues, the durability of manly friendship, the immutability of the ancient laws of sexual attraction, the delights of marriage and children, and the importance of the bond, however challenging and strained, between fathers and sons. Along the way, he turns his focus upon himself, offering moving accounts of the events and relations that have shaped his own vision of what it means to be a man. Finally, through keen analysis of sexual manners and rhetoric, Segell offers a blueprint, for both sexes, for a détente in the thirty-year gender war.
        Intelligent, direct, and deeply felt, drawing upon comprehensive research and personal history, Standup Guy will enlighten and inform men and women alike.

        This is a book about men--Big Men and "rubbish men," athletes and aesthetes, philanthropists and presidential philanderers, babes and bullies, warriors and wimps, ladies' men and louts, and surfers, censorious censors, and CEOs.
        It's a book about male obsessions--or as my wife puts it, sports and sex. But it's also about the durability of manly friendship; the pure tough heart of little boys; the virtues of dominance and aggression; the utility of emotional constraint; the willfulness of the penis; the calming delights of marriage; and the challenging, often dangerous bond be-tween father and son. It's a book about the immutable laws of sexual attraction, and the persuasive power of a slow hand. It's about the dawning of personal insight, catharsis, and change.        --from the Introduction


From the Hardcover edition.
The epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde-and through them, the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood, and America, forever

It's the mid-1960s, and westerns, war movies and blockbuster musicals-Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music-dominate the box office. The Hollywood studio system, with its cartels of talent and its production code, is hanging strong, or so it would seem. Meanwhile, Warren Beatty wonders why his career isn't blooming after the success of his debut in Splendor in the Grass; Mike Nichols wonders if he still has a career after breaking up with Elaine May; and even though Sidney Poitier has just made history by becoming the first black Best Actor winner, he's still feeling completely cut off from opportunities other than the same "noble black man" role. And a young actor named Dustin Hoffman struggles to find any work at all.

By the Oscar ceremonies of the spring of 1968, when In the Heat of the Night wins the 1967 Academy Award for Best Picture, a cultural revolution has hit Hollywood with the force of a tsunami. The unprecedented violence and nihilism of fellow nominee Bonnie and Clyde has shocked old-guard reviewers but helped catapult Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway into counterculture stardom and made the movie one of the year's biggest box-office successes. Just as unprecedented has been the run of nominee The Graduate, which launched first-time director Mike Nichols into a long and brilliant career in filmmaking, to say nothing of what it did for Dustin Hoffman, Simon and Garfunkel, and a generation of young people who knew that whatever their future was, it wasn't in plastics. Sidney Poitier has reprised the noble-black-man role, brilliantly, not once but twice, in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night, movies that showed in different ways both how far America had come on the subject of race in 1967 and how far it still had to go.

What City of Nets did for Hollywood in the 1940s and Easy Riders, Raging Bulls for the 1970s, Pictures at a Revolution does for Hollywood and the cultural revolution of the 1960s. As we follow the progress of these five movies, we see an entire industry change and struggle and collapse and grow-we see careers made and ruined, studios born and destroyed, and the landscape of possibility altered beyond all recognition. We see some outsized personalities staking the bets of their lives on a few films that became iconic works that defined the generation-and other outsized personalities making equally large wagers that didn't pan out at all.

The product of extraordinary and unprecedented access to the principals of all five films, married to twenty years' worth of insight covering the film industry and a bewitching storyteller's gift, Mark Harris's Pictures at a Revolution is a bravura accomplishment, and a work that feels iconic itself.
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