Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of Its Makers

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9781557280602: Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of Its Makers
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"There is much to enjoy in Doug Ramsey's collection of essays on jazz. His love of the music, his superior knowledge, sensitivity, and humor permeate his writing, and through this, one can better understand and appreciate jazz and the musicians who create it". -- Marian McPartland

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About the Author:

Doug Ramsey is a recipient of the lifetime achievement award of the Jazz Journalists Association. He lives in the Pacific Northwest, where he settled following a career in print and broadcast journalism in cities including New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio, Cleveland and Washington, DC. His writing about jazz has paralleled his life in journalism.

Visit Doug Ramsey’s blog, Rifftides, a winner of the Blog Of The Year award of the international Jazz Journalists Association.

Review:

Journalist, radio broadcaster, TV anchorman, jazz-festival board member, TV news director, frustrated jazz trumpeter, and, presently, Senior Vice President of the Foundation for American Communications and contributing editor for Texas Monthly and Jazz Times, Doug Ramsey still found time to write album liner notes, profiles of jazz musicians, and concert, record, and book reviews over the past thirty years for down beat, Jazz Tbrnes, Coda, Texas Monthly, and various other papers and journals. In his foreword, Gene Lees notes that this present volume represents only one-third to one-half of Ramsey's jazz writings; after finishing this volume, readers will want to read the rest. This is the kind of a book one can take up and put down at leisure-a fine book to have at one's bedside, for instarice, though there will certainly be the temptation to get back out of bed, head for the record player, and pull out some of the artists and their recordings that Ramsey discusses. Though the collection represents writing dating from 1966 through 1987, Ramsey gathers the material into a cohesive whole with introductory comments and current information. Ramsey's knowledge of jazz is formidable, and his personal acquaintances with many of the musicians he profiles makes everything he says about them and their music believable. He is outspoken but fairminded; he always has something positive to say, even when he is critical. (See, for instance, his comments on Charles Lloyd.) Most of his attention is given to the most highly-regarded, throughout the book there are recurring references to Armstrong, Parker, and Lester Young as the innovators. But he also gives praise to Dave Brubeck, Joe Morello, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Gerry Mulligan, and other white musicians who, in other places, have been quickly dismissed. Ramsey also includes comments from his "Jazz Review" radio program on WDSU-FM and -AM in New Orleans. His wide-ranging musical expertise shines through in his introductions of recordings by Lester Young, Gene Ammons, Frank Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim, George Russell and others; his evaluations of the musicians and selections inspire the reader to seek the recordings he discusses. In the same way, his book Teviews tempt the reader to head for the library. I was impressed to see his review of Czechoslovakian jazz enthusiast/writer Josef Skvorecky's The Bays Saxophone, a book not widely known and not often discussed. The last section of the book, "A Few of My Favorite Things," is a listing, with brief commentaries, of twenty jazz selections and albums that Ramsey believes are personally pleasing and importam Scanning the list reveals Ramsey's wideranging interests. Included are Woody Herman's First Herd rendition of "Bijou," Stravinsky's "Ebony Concerto," Charlie Parker's "Funky Blues," plus Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" and Omette Coleman's "Free Jazz" albums. Though this is a book one can peruse easily, it was a book I didn't want to leave. Ramsey writes with a highly-literate style- a smooddy-flowing, exacting prose that is a pleasure to read. This is a must book for all jazz enthusiasts and, certainly, for all libraries. -- From Independent Publisher

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