American Musicians: Fifty-six Portraits in Jazz

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9780195037586: American Musicians: Fifty-six Portraits in Jazz
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This is Whitney Balliett's long-awaited "big book." In it are all the jazz profiles he has written for The New Yorker during the past 24 years. These include his famous early portraits of Pee Wee Russell, Red Allen, Earl Hines, and Mary Lou Williams, done when these giants were in full flower; his recent reconstructions of the lives of such legends as Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, Jack Teagarden, Zoot Sims, and Dave Tough; His quick but indelible glimpses into the daily (or nocturnal) lives of Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus; and his vivid pictures of such on-the-scene masters as Red Norvo, Ornette Coleman, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Art Farmer, Michael Moore, and Tommy Flanagan. Also included are such lesser known but invaluable players as Art Hodes, Jabbo Smith, Joe Wilder, Warne Marsh, Gene Bertoncini, Joe Bushkin, and Marie Marcus.
All these profiles make the reader feel, as one observer has pointed out, that he is "sitting with Balliett and his subject and listening in." The book can be taken as a kind of history of jazz, as well as a biographical encylopedia of many of its most important performers. It can also be regarded as a model of American prose. Robert Dawidoff said of Whitney Balliett"s most recent book, Jelly Roll, Jabbo and Fats, that "few people write as well about anything as Balliett writes about jazz." And the late Philip Larkin wrote in 1982 of the "transcendence of Balliett's prose."

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Whitney Balliett has been jazz critic of The New Yorker since 1957.

From Library Journal:

"A sort of highly personal encyclopedia," Balliett calls this collection of sketches representing 25 years of his work for the New Yorker. His subjects include Duke Ellington, Doc Cheatham, Marian McPartland, and Cecil Taylor in a selection that spans the history and styles of jazz. Interviews form the core of most of the pieces: Balliett sets the scene, then lets each subject tell his or her own story. When he does step in to recount a performance, it is in a vivid and concise prose that creates a physical as well as a melodic presence. Balliett's previous collection, Jelly Roll, Jabbo, and Fats ( LJ 3/1/83) offered only a sample of his work. In its broad range of incisive but always appreciative portrayals, American Musicians stands as a showpiece for his talent. William Brockman, Drew Univ. Lib., Madison, N.J.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Balliett, Whitney
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