Currently reading: Music Is My Mistress, by Duke Ellington
I’m really looking forward to this one: told in his own way, in his own words, a symphony written by my compositional hero, the man who created over 1500 compositions: not only songs that all the world has sung, but also suites, sacred works, music for stage and screen and symphonies. Passionate about his music and the people who made music, he counted as his friends hundreds of the musicians who changed the face of music throughout the world: Bechet, Basie, Armstrong, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald and Sinatra, to name a few of them. There are 100 photographs to give us an intimate view of Duke’s world: his family, his friends, his associates.What emerges most strongly is his commitment to music, the mistress for whom he saves the fullest intensity of his passion. “Lovers have come and gone, but only my mistress stays”, he says.
Currently reading: The View from Within: Jazz Writings, 1948-1987 by Orrin Keepnews.
I’ve written numerous posts about the musical legacy of Orrin Keepnews, the now 88-year old record producer and co-founder of the jazz labels Riverside Records, Milestone Records and Fantasy Records.
But few know that Keepnews started his jazz career as a writer, reviewer and editor for ‘The Record Changer’, a strange combination of a literary/intellectual magazine and a mail-order auction block for fanatical jazz collectors.
During the early years of Riverside Records, Keepnews wrote all the liner notes himself, as one way of holding down costs. He explains further in the introduction of this book: “Dealing with jazz and its people, being involved in the creation of an endless stream of records, writing and talking and thinking about the music on what sometimes seems to be more than a twenty-four-hour-a-day basis, all this has for better or worse become a permanent focal point of my life… Accordingly, this book is largely made up of very personal writing. There’s not much in the way of musical analysis, perhaps because I have always been much more concerned with helping bring music into existence than with dissecting it…”
This book is strangely enough out of print (but available second-hand through these sellers) because at the time (1988) it got raving reviews, including this one from the San Francisco Chronicle: “Keepnews’ insider’s perspective into the revolutionary days of the fifties, into the recording studio, and into the lives of jazz’s creators, lets us appreciate that world in its complexity and importance. This book is a serious contribution to the understanding of American culture.”
Well, Mr Keepnews, I’m looking forward to this one.
It’s a facsimile reprint with a booklet containing the translations of the original Dutch text.
This book was first published in 1959, and shows pictures taken between 1955 and 1959, during the infamous night concerts at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
This was his 3rd book, and by no means one of his best. Van der Elsken is a photographer I greatly admire, and he became a master of his genre (existing light / documentary photography), but at these shows, the lighting conditions were simply too poor and the film had to be pushed too much.
On the other hand, what is captured is a feeling of intense heat, rebellion, swing, sex and youth.