Notes from a Battered Grand: A Memoir/Fifty Years of Music, from Honky-Tonk to High Society

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9780151672813: Notes from a Battered Grand: A Memoir/Fifty Years of Music, from Honky-Tonk to High Society

A personal memoir of a life of obscurity in the music business chronicles the author's numerous gigs in hotel lounges, roadside honky-tonks, Mafia dens, and socialite clubs over the last fifty years. National ad/promo. Tour.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Pianist/writer Asher (Blood Summer, 1977, etc.) reviews his career as a musician. Excerpts have appeared in Paris Review, Harper's, etc., and in the author's The Electric Cotillion (1970). Asher gives a smoke-filled memoir of his early days as a saloon pianist while simultaneously charting the ups and downs of jazz and swing during the past five decades. He began as a classical pianist in red-brick Worcester, Mass., but in his mid- teens was seduced by jazz virtuoso Jackie Byard into a lifelong existence in cafes, joints, buckets of blood, holes-in-the-wall, cathouses, and garbage dumps. His first jobs were while still in high school and included playing for completely nude hootch dancers--an afternoon stag show at the Good Ship Madam Zucchini. His first big gig was with the Hal Harganian band at the Foxes and Hounds, an antediluvian 500-seat barn of a show-club, which burned to the ground, suspiciously. Asher captures these old clubs marvelously: ``a whiff from the open door of a seedy south-of- Market barroom in San Francisco, peering through the slats of a darkened club in the bright afternoon, can summon full-blown, in all their squalor and glory, Dominic's Cafe, Blue Marlin, Tiny's Carousel, Good Ship Madam Zucchini, Foxes and Hounds....'' Asher regretted not being black while playing in Boston's Back Bay venue or during his first all-black after-hours jam session. He joined the hard-drinking Alvie Drake band out of Providence, later moved to the hungry i bar-lounge in San Francisco, where he watched Woody Allen bomb on the comedian's opening night but recover to ham it up with teenager Barbra Streisand, who kept the jam-packed house ``reverberating.'' Beguiling. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

The author leads us on a rollicking tour through the world of a nightclub pianist. The son of middle-class Jewish parents, Asher grew up during WW II in Worcester, Mass., where he studied classical piano but was quickly drawn to a musical apprenticeship in the city's seediest dives. Fascinated by the dynamic music of black performers, he pursued a career in jazz, which meant endless road tours, one-night stands at birthday parties and bar mitzvahs, and gigs in clubs, bars, hotels and summer resorts. Eventually he settled down as the house pianist at the famous hungry i in San Francisco, but before long his satisfaction in this measure of success was marred by the advent of rock, which attracted a young audience that had no taste for the music of his generation. Asher ( Raise Up Off Me: A Portrait of Hampton Hawes ), who is a novelist as well as a pianist, writes with breathless panache, capturing the bizarre, amusing and absurd events that fill the life of anyone rash enough to want to make a living as a piano player.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Don Asher
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