Joe Harriott: Fire in His Soul

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9780955788857: Joe Harriott: Fire in His Soul

'Parker? There's them over here can play a few aces too.' Measuring himself alongside his mentor Charlie Parker, Jamaican alto saxophonist Joe Harriott had no doubts about his talent and abilities - and with good reason. A brilliant instrumentalist and a visionary in the development of jazz, Harriott gained legions of admirers for his fiery playing in Britain and beyond before embarking on a quest to extend the limits of the music. His unique concept of free form, evolved independently of American developments, heralded the emergence of contemporary European jazz. Later, with John Mayer, he pioneered cross-cultural fusions of jazz and Indian music. Neglected in his lifetime by an unappreciative arts establishment, Harriott produced a body of recorded work that is increasingly influential and widely acclaimed. Alan Robertson's book, based on the author's extensive interviews with many of those who knew Joe best, has been revised and updated to include important new material giving an even richer picture of the triumphs and tragedies of Harriott's remarkable life.

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About the Author:

Alan Robertson is an Edinburgh writer who first became interested in Joe Harriott through reading Ina Carr's book, Music Outside. He listened to Harriott's music and became fascinated by the man, his life story and his achievements. Following his interest to its logical conclusion, he interviewed dozens of people and, with the support of his wife Lorna and son Grant, he wrote his first book, the biography of Joe Harriott. Following publication, he became aware of some significant people who knew Harriott and was able to draw on further interviews for this second edition.

Review:

Kevin Le Gendre, The Independent on Sunday: 'Robertson's research is meticulous and far-reaching and his panorama of comments - provides a valuable insight into a towering and tragic figure ... an important work: a detailed assessment of a seminal but long neglected artist.' Stephen Graham, Jazzwise: 'Robertson tells Harriott's story warts and all and has produced a wonderful read.' Derek Ansell, Jazz Journal International: 'This is a long overdue and welcome homage to a sadly neglected and original musician.' Ron Simpson, Jazz Rag: 'a vivid picture of Joe Harriott and, incidentally, of some of his fellow-musicians.' Chris Searle, Morning Star: '[This] hugely compelling biography - opens up Harriott as a musician and man and shows him as a proud, self-directed and lonely seer of jazz, a black musical prodigy in a white British underworld of the music where it was so much more easy and comfortable to be an imitator.' Chris Parker, JARS: '[This book] should be read by anyone interested in the survival of the artistic impulse in a largely indifferent, sometimes overtly hostile environment.' Bill Smith, Coda: 'A compelling and rather sad story of the life of one of Britain's most important jazz musicians - also, an inside view of the British jazz scene of the fifties and sixties.' Ben Watson, The Wire: 'This text - is fighting fresh, - heroic amounts of research - The sparky and unpretentious attitude of working musicians shines through, providing a stream of canny observations.' Steve Millward, Manchester Evening News: 'Robertson's fine biography follows Harriott from childhood prodigy to emigration from Jamaica into a UK that welcomed, but ultimately failed to nurture, his massive talent. The clear style combines with thorough research to give valuable insight into this complex and innovatory musician.' 'Un libro davvero importante!' Enrico Betteinello, All About Jazz - Itlay --Independent on Sunday

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