Trumpet Blues: The Life of Harry James

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9780195142396: Trumpet Blues: The Life of Harry James
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Swing is back in style, and with it a renewed interest in the Big Band Era. And few players dominated that era more than Harry James, whose soaring trumpet solos and romantic hit tunes influenced popular music for a generation. Now, Peter J. Levinson, who knew Harry James personally, has written a revealing biography of this jazz icon, based on nearly 200 interviews with musicians and friends.
Harry James led a truly colorful life, and in Trumpet Blues Levinson captures it all. Beginning with James's childhood in a traveling circus, we follow the young trumpeter's meteoric rise in the 1930s and witness his electrifying performances with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. We see how James formed his own band in 1939, an incubator for many pop music stars of the 1940s and '50s, including Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest, and Kitty Kallen. Combined with James's superb musicianship, peerless trumpet technique and talented sidemen, this stellar group dominated the war years and the immediate post-war period. And James himself, especially after his marriage to film goddess Betty Grable, became one of America's most famous personalities and lived like true Hollywood royalty. Levinson describes their twenty-two-year marriage with insight and sympathy. But he shows how James's marriage--and his triumphant late-1950s comeback in Nevada's casinos--were slowly undermined by his penchant for compulsive gambling, womanizing, and alcoholism. He gives us the inside story of James's sybaritic life style, and probes the profound psychological reasons for James's destructive behavior.
The first biography ever written on Harry James, Trumpet Blues is a scintillating portrait of Swing's brightest star--his life, his loves, and the music that defined an era.

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About the Author:


Peter J. Levinson, who knew Harry James for 24 years, was the foremost jazz publicist for nearly two decades, and still represents a few select clients. Currently, he is at work on a biography of Nelson Riddle. He lives in Malibu, California.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Leading jazz publicist Levinson makes his literary debut with this biography of the late bandleader, who in the '30s and '40s established himself as a rival to Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, among others. Jamess early years were particularly formative, as he was born to parents who devoted much of their lives to performing for the circus. ``Young Harry first met his public at the age of 11 days, when his parents introduced him to the circus audience,'' Levinson writes. With his look at the life of circus entertainers in the early part of the century, Levinson hooks the reader immediately. He makes Jamess progression from childhood circus performer to budding musician at age 12 when he was ``the youngest circus bandleader in the world''a seamless evolution. By the early 1930s, when James was struggling to succeed as a trumpet player, the reader has a strong sense of his musical growth. It wasn't until December 1936, when Goodmanwho would stay friends with James throughout their lifetimes, despite their competition for bookingsinvited him to join his band, that the trumpeter became a star. Levinson captures the era well, citing the impact of WWII on popular music, telling stories of the biggest stars of the time (including Goodman, Dorsey, Jamess hero Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Frank Sinatra, whom James helped discover by giving the ``kid'' his first recording gig) and the bigotry integrated big bands faced on the road. To his credit, Levinson, while hardly ignoring James's legendary womanizing, gambling, and drinking, as well as his lengthy marriage to pinup queen Betty Grableultimately victimized by all of James's vicesavoids turning the bandleaders life into a melodramatic soap opera. Instead, he concentrates on the music. Impressive, and a fascinating read not only for fans of jazz, but for students of 20th-century history, Hollywood, and the music business. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Swing is back in style, and with it a renewed interest in the Big Band Era. And few players dominated that era more than Harry James, whose soaring trumpet solos and romantic hit tunes influenced popular music for a generation. Now, Peter J. Levinson, who knew Harry James personally, has written a revealing biography of this jazz icon, based on nearly 200 interviews with musicians and friends. Harry James led a truly colorful life, and in Trumpet Blues Levinson captures it all. Beginning with James's childhood in a traveling circus, we follow the young trumpeter's meteoric rise in the 1930s and witness his electrifying performances with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. We see how James formed his own band in 1939, an incubator for many pop music stars of the 1940s and '50s, including Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest, and Kitty Kallen. Combined with James's superb musicianship, peerless trumpet technique and talented sidemen, this stellar group dominated the war years and the immediate post-war period.And James himself, especially after his marriage to film goddess Betty Grable, became one of America's most famous personalities and lived like true Hollywood royalty. Levinson describes their twenty-two-year marriage with insight and sympathy. But he shows how James's marriage-and his triumphant late-1950s comeback in Nevada's casinos-were slowly undermined by his penchant for compulsive gambling, womanizing, and alcoholism. He gives us the inside story of James's sybaritic lifestyle, and probes the profound psychological reasons for James's destructive behavior. The first biography ever written on Harry James, Trumpet Blues is a scintillating portrait of Swing's brightest star-his life, his loves, and the music that defined an era. Seller Inventory # AAV9780195142396

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Swing is back in style, and with it a renewed interest in the Big Band Era. And few players dominated that era more than Harry James, whose soaring trumpet solos and romantic hit tunes influenced popular music for a generation. Now, Peter J. Levinson, who knew Harry James personally, has written a revealing biography of this jazz icon, based on nearly 200 interviews with musicians and friends. Harry James led a truly colorful life, and in Trumpet Blues Levinson captures it all. Beginning with James's childhood in a traveling circus, we follow the young trumpeter's meteoric rise in the 1930s and witness his electrifying performances with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. We see how James formed his own band in 1939, an incubator for many pop music stars of the 1940s and '50s, including Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest, and Kitty Kallen. Combined with James's superb musicianship, peerless trumpet technique and talented sidemen, this stellar group dominated the war years and the immediate post-war period.And James himself, especially after his marriage to film goddess Betty Grable, became one of America's most famous personalities and lived like true Hollywood royalty. Levinson describes their twenty-two-year marriage with insight and sympathy. But he shows how James's marriage-and his triumphant late-1950s comeback in Nevada's casinos-were slowly undermined by his penchant for compulsive gambling, womanizing, and alcoholism. He gives us the inside story of James's sybaritic lifestyle, and probes the profound psychological reasons for James's destructive behavior. The first biography ever written on Harry James, Trumpet Blues is a scintillating portrait of Swing's brightest star-his life, his loves, and the music that defined an era. Seller Inventory # AAV9780195142396

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