Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60

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9780472067657: Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60
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When most people think of Detroit and music, they think of the Motown sound. But what many people forget is that Detroit has a remarkable jazz history, which became a major influence in what came to be known as the Motown sound.

Before Motown is the first book about the history of jazz in Detroit. It shows the significant impact Detroit has had on the development of jazz in America, with its own sound, distinct from that of the other jazz centers of Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, or Kansas City. Starting with the big bands in the 1920s,with groups like the McKinney's Cotton Pickers and Jean Goldkette's Orchestra, and continuing into the 1950s, Detroit experienced a golden age of modern jazz centered around clubs like the Blue Bird Inn. That jazz scene comes alive in interviews with musicians and club owners, combined with unique period photographs and advertisements. In addition, Detroit's vital jazz scene is placed in its social context, particularly within the changing relations between blacks and whites at the time.

Long overdue, Before Motown tells the story of Detroit jazz as it really happened, told by the people who lived it. More importantly, it shows how life can mirror art in the most pragmatic of American cities, Detroit.

Lars Bjorn is Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan, Dearborn, and the author of numerous articles and publications about jazz. Jim Gallert is Vice President of the Jazz Alliance of Michigan and a veteran jazz broadcaster. He has been involved with the Detroit jazz scene for over twenty-five years.

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From Library Journal:

During jazz's formative years, a surprisingly large number of influential performers hailed from Detroit and its environs. Much activity centered on the influence of Wayne State University's music department, where musicians took classes as well as planned various promotional and educational events for the city. They created a strong musical community that artists such as Yusef Lateef continue to this day. All of this is brought to light in this engaging, intense review of the musical developments of Detroit's jazz artists apparently the first book-length treatment of the topic. In addition, Bjorn (sociology, Univ. of Michigan) and jazz broadcaster Gallert provide a source of social commentary, tying the musical activities to life for the predominantly African American community. Over the last 20 years, the authors conducted 93 interviews with the scene's movers and shakers. In July, the Motor City celebrated its 300th birthday, so this title is also timely. Highly recommended for academic, large public, and music libraries. William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Besides the auto industry, Detroit is best-known for Motown the jubilant pop tunes of '60s bands like the Temptations. But Detroit produced music before the '60s, argues Lars Bjorn in Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960, written with veteran jazz broadcaster Jim Gallert. Swedish-born Bjorn, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan, explores the city's music scene from its pre-Big Band era to its 1950s "Golden Age" to rhythm and blues. Copiously researched Bjorn and Gallert interviewed over 90 club owners and musicians with never-before-published b&w photos and period advertisements, this large-format book will appeal to jazz enthusiasts and Detroit denizens. For the many European fans of American jazz, Plymbridge will make it available in the U.K. and Europe. ( Aug. 13)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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