Currently reading: Hard Bop Academy: The Sidemen Of Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, by Alan Goldsher.
Alan Goldsher, a bassist who has recorded with Janet Jackson, Digable Planets, Cypress Hill and Naughty By Nature, a writer of various articles and novels anda fellow Tumblr member, wrote this great book on the multitude of gifted artists who populated the many editions of the Jazz Messengers through the years.
Blakey was not only a distinguished, inventive and powerful drummer, but along with Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, he was one of jazz’s foremost talent scouts. The musicians who flowed seamlessly in and out of this constantly evolving collective during its 36-year run (about 120 of them) were among the most important artists of any era. Though their respective innovations were vital to the evolution of bebop and hard bop, the recorded work of the Messengers sidemen has never been properly analyzed. In addition to dissecting the sidemen’s most consequential work with Blakey’s band, Alan Goldsher offers up engaging profiles of a great deal of Messenger members.
I started reading this book yesterday, so expect some great Messengers music coming your way in the near future.
Currently reading: Footprints, The Life And Work Of Wayne Shorter, by Michelle Mercer
John Kelman writes: “…The idea of writing a book on an artist who is not only still alive but in the midst of a musical renaissance and, therefore, still a work in progress, may seem premature; but Mercer gives it all sense even as it ends on an open-ended note. How many writers have the opportunity to not only interview people who have been associated with the subject, but to spend significant time with the artist himself, getting a clear picture of his life from his perspective?
In some respects ‘Footprints: The Life And Work Of Wayne Shorter' is more autobiography than biography. Mercer's clear and concise prose reflects Shorter's own personality in a way that would be impossible had she not had such deep exposure to Shorter himself. Mercer has delivered a book that, by having the luxury of involving the artist himself, is arguably be one of the most thorough, enlightening and entertaining biographies written of a jazz artist to date…”
Done. Finished. During my summer holiday (somewhere in July) I started to read ‘Milestones’ by Jack Chambers. Immediately followed (!) by ‘Miles: The Autobiography’ by Quincy Troupe. That’s a grand total of 1286 pages on Miles, finished only yesterday.
I recommend both books: the one from Jack Chambers for it’s meticulousness on facts and the one from Troupe for Miles’ own voice you hear through.
Enter Ben Ratliff’s ‘The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music’. Ratliff, jazz critic for The New York Times and writer of the book ‘Coltrane: The Story Of A Sound’, spent just over two years interviewing jazz greats for a recurring feature at the paper: rather than ask musicians like Wayne Shorter or Sonny Rollins to name their favorite records, Ratliff sat with them as they listened to songs and picked out the qualities they found most artistically compelling.
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.