Category Book Reviews
Jazz books written by ‘jazz widows’ are pretty rare. Only a few come to mind: Laurie Pepper’s ‘Art: Why I Stuck With A Junkie Jazzman’, Jo Gelbart’s ‘Miles And Jo: Love Story In Blue’ and Sue Mingus’s ‘Tonight At Noon’. But, as Val Wilmer’s ‘As Serious As Your Life’ demonstrated some 50 years ago, behind […]
‘Level 42 – Every Album, Every Song (on track)’ is the first in-depth study of the jazz/funk/pop supergroup’s illustrious catalogue.
It features recording information, musical analysis, studio gossip, full credits, stories from the road and contributions from head honcho Mark King and key past members Gary Husband and Phil Gould.
What exactly does a record producer do? Of course the role covers a multitude of aspects but generally falls into two categories – the techie or the psychoanalyst. Tommy LiPuma was definitely in the latter camp, a five-time Grammy winner, label boss (courtesy of his cult imprint Blue Thumb) and bona fide music fan who […]
For such a key figure in the jazz pantheon, Ornette Coleman has arguably been under-represented in print. Certainly this writer’s touchstones have been short-form pieces – Gary Giddins’ extended essay from ‘Visions Of Jazz’; Francis Davis’s ‘No Success Like Failure’; Richard Williams’ ‘The Skies Of America’; Art Taylor’s groundbreaking interview in ‘Notes And Tones’. So […]
You know the guy: long, bushy hair, beatific grin, jeans, sneakers, long-sleeved T-shirt, usually rhapsodizing intensely via some kind of guitar gizmo. Despite his many stylistic detours, Pat Metheny is a brand all right, and his music inspires a devotion and attendant sales profile that has rarely – if ever – been afforded to ‘jazz’ […]
If Martin Scorsese ever gets round to making his jazz movie, he could do a lot worse than a Stan Levey biopic. Levey, who died in 2005, was one of the first great bebop drummers. Completely self-taught and an early master of fast tempos, he played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Miles Davis, […]
Is it possible to enjoy a non-fiction book about a musician whose work you’ve never heard? I would probably have said not before I read Graham Lock’s excellent ‘Forces In Motion’ recently. Concerning the music, life and philosophy of Anthony Braxton – possibly the most recorded solo artist in jazz history – the book mainly […]
It’s a conundrum: how to preserve for all time something as quintessentially ephemeral and improvisatory as a jazz performance. So-called ‘red-light fever’ – the terror of preserving a take for eternity when the ‘record’ button goes on – has haunted the careers of a fair few jazz masters. And yet the music is littered with […]
‘But Beautiful’ by Geoff Dyer Geoff Dyer is probably best known as the witty, urbane writer of ‘Jeff in Venice’, ‘Paris, Trance’ and ‘Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It’, but he started off his career with this stunning series of vignettes based on the lives of jazz greats including Chet Baker, […]
‘I admit that I never had given much thought As to how much of a battle would have to be fought To get most Americans to agree and then say That there actually should be a Black holiday…’ The death of Gil Scott-Heron in May 2011 silenced one of the most potent social commentators of […]
Interviewer: What is jazz? Thelonious Monk: New York, man. You can feel it. It’s around in the air… If the ‘Jazz Baroness’ Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild de Koenigswarter hadn’t existed, would the great beboppers have had to invent her? The benefactor and friend to the stars was an important figure in the jazz lexicon but […]
The swing kings Duke Ellington and Count Basie had The Cotton Club, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and the legendary US beboppers had The Five Spot, Birdland and The Three Deuces. But a certain generation of UK jazz greats learnt their chops in the likes of The White Hart in Acton and The Bun Shop in […]
Nile Rodgers has spent his musical life on both sides of the studio glass, recording and writing hits with Chic and producing the likes of Diana Ross, Madonna, David Bowie, Sister Sledge, Johnny Mathis and Al Jarreau. Chic were to disco what Steely Dan were to rock – they brought jazz chords, complex arrangements and […]