Category Book Reviews

Book Review: Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight by Frank R. Hayde

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, […]

Book Review: Forces In Motion (The Music And Thoughts Of Anthony Braxton) by Graham Lock

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 […]

Book Review: Pressed For All Time by Michael Jarrett

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 […]

My Favourite Jazz Books (Of The Last Few Months…)

‘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, […]

Book Review: Gil Scott-Heron’s The Last Holiday

‘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 […]

Book Review: Nica’s Dream by David Kastin

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 […]

Book Review: Peter King’s Flying High

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 […]

Book Review: Nile Rodgers’ Le Freak

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 […]