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Reading Jazz: A Gathering of Autobiography,…
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Reading Jazz: A Gathering of Autobiography, Reportage, and Criticism from… (1996)

by Robert Gottlieb

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Richard Gottlieb, formerly of the New Yorker has put together a quirky collection of memoirs, autobiography, essays and reviews, which cover, slightly selectively, jazz from its beginnings to now.

Gottlieb tends to regard jazz as most authentic when played by African-Americans--the only white musicians discussed here tend to be women singers, and European jazz might as well not exist. His selection includes pieces which acknowledge the limitations of other musics -- Miles Davis's admiration of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince is therefore taken as evidence of the great trumpeter's decline.

This is a generous book both in its sheer size and in the spirit in which people write joyfully about the music; it is a book about the heroic, and anyone with jazz heroes-- from Louis Armstrong to Charlie Parker--will find them attractively celebrated here.

This is a collection of more than 150 excerpts from books, journals, magazines and newspapers, creating an anthology of essays about jazz - the life and the music. Dividing the book into three sections - "Autobiography", "Reportage" and "Criticism", Robert Gottlieb also provides an overall introduction and a brief preface to each piece. There are first-person narratives by Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Billie Holliday, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller. There is journalism about musicians and recordings by Whitney Balliet, Leonard Feather, Nat Hentoff, Ralph Ellison, Rudi Blesh, Lillian Ross, A.B. Spellman and Dan Morgenstern. The critiques of major musicians are by Marshall Stearns, Henry Pleasants, Will Friedwald, Gary Giddins, Andre Hodeir, Eric Hobsbawn, Philip Larkin, Albert Murray, Stanley Crouch, LeRoi Jones, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gunther Schuller and Virgil Thompson.
  antimuzak | Oct 18, 2005 |
bought for a jazz appreciation class 2002
  Wakewoman | Sep 25, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679781110, Paperback)

Anthologies of jazz writing tend to be mixed bags, combining reviews, profiles, and usually a couple of short stories in which the protagonist happens to play the tenor saxophone. This collection from former New Yorker editor Robert Gottlieb is indeed such a miscellany, but it has been assembled with rare taste and discrimination. The emphasis on autobiographical writing is particularly welcome, reminding us that, in prose as in jazz, voice is the ultimate artistic thumbprint.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:21 -0400)

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Compiles autobiographical sketches, profiles, and criticism by and about jazz greats, including Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.

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