Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac

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9781560253624: Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac

From painters’ lofts and bohemian haunts in the Greenwich Village of the 1950s to funky clubs and Bowery bars like the Five Spot, jazz musician David Amram retraces in this engaging memoir the creative paths he followed through restless days and long, exhilarating nights with his collaborator and friend Jack Kerouac. With candor and humor, Amram re-creates the moments that shaped a mutually stimulating relationship—like the jazz-poetry reading, the first ever in New York, he performed with Kerouac, whose On the Road had recently made him an overnight literary success; or like the 1959 film, Pull My Daisy, they hilariously made with fellow Beats Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, and Larry Rivers. Amram illuminates the private side of Kerouac, too, his extraordinary intellect and his ardent pursuit of music and literature long after the critics had turned on him and many of his old friends had abandoned him. Among the last of a generation that altered the style and substance of the arts in its time, Amram also celebrates in this at once wise and affecting book the renascence of interest in Kerouac’s work three decades after his death. For the beat indeed goes on. And so does the collaboration.

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About the Author:

David Amram has composed more than one hundred orchestral and chamber works; written many scores for Broadway theater and film, including the classic scores for the films Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate; composed two operas, including the ground-breaking Holocaust opera The Final Ingredient; and composed the score for the landmark 1959 documentary Pull My Daisy, narrated by Jack Kerouac. He is the author of the books Vibrations, an autobiography, Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac, and Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat." A pioneer of jazz French horn and World Music, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from twenty-five countries. He is also an inventive, funny improvisational lyricist. He has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, who chose him as the New York Philharmonic’s first composer-in-residence in 1966, Langston Hughes, Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Charles Mingus, Wynton Marsalis, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Depp, Tito Puente, and many others. Amram’s most popular recent works are Giants of the Night, a flute concerto commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway and dedicated to the memory of Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, and Dizzy Gillespie, and Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie. Today, Amram continues to compose music while traveling the world as a conductor, soloist, band leader, visiting scholar, and narrator in five languages. He is currently collaborating with author Frank McCourt on Missa Manhattan, for narrator, chorus, and orchestra, and composing a new piano concerto. All of his concert music is published by C. F. Peters Corporation.

From Publishers Weekly:

In the late 1950s, musician and composer Amram (Vibrations) pulled frequent all-nighters with Jack Kerouac and pals. The artists drank Thunderbird, smoked pot and recited spontaneous poems while Amram belted his French horn. In 1957, Amram and Kerouac went public with the act at a small East Village gallery; two years later, they documented their unique teamwork in the short film Pull My Daisy. They never worked together again: Kerouac moved with his mother to Florida, where he became increasingly reclusive and enfeebled by alcohol, and Amram went on to compose more than 100 orchestral and chamber pieces and wrote scores for such films as The Manchurian Candidate. In this memoir, the author hopes to clear up "decades of misinformation and mythology" about Kerouac and many of the other poets, painters and artists of the so-called Beat movement (a label he vehemently rejects). Unfortunately, the characters Amram renders come off as unreal as the stereotypes he wishes to destroy. Readers interested in Kerouac should look elsewhere. Memory Babe: A Cultural Biography of Jack Kerouac by Gerald Nicosia is the most comprehensive biography. For a more personal account, read former Kerouac lover Joyce Johnson's memoir Minor Characters. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)Forecast: As with most things Kerouackian, this book is sure to attract the many, still cultish, fans.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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