In this debut memoir, a young pianist recalls touring the United States with his program of contemporary American music while struggling with his closeted sexuality.
After graduating from music school with honors, Tendler came up with a bold idea: “I’d always wanted to travel, I loved modern American music, and I had nothing else to do. I would call it America 88x50—eighty-eight keys by fifty states.” His program showcased four American art-music composers—Charles Ives, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Alberto Ginastera and Aaron Copland. After emailing his proposal—which he now describes as “a grandiose web of half-truths”—to 50 presenters, he got no positive responses. “Clearly, you are not a professional musician,” said one presenter in an email reply. He decided to tour anyway. Tendler was ill-prepared, at first lacking a website, publicist or even a poster. (He now has a website with sound files, photographs and reviews.) Nevertheless, Tendler lined up a handful of concerts and hit the road, playing wherever he could get a booking—a nursing home, an elementary school, a noisy coffee shop—and eventually, he reached his goal. Even nonmusical readers could become engrossed in Tendler’s narrative as he struggles with self-doubt, logistics, health and coming out, as well as the underlying fight to maintain his pursuit of artthrough the generosity of others when funding is slim and audiences tiny. The elderly, he discovered, are the most likely to take chances and show up, “while my own hipper-than-thou demographic of twenty-somethings could scarcely ever be found.” In many ways, his quest is personal, though Tendler “learned long ago that only by playing before an audience can a pianist really discover the truth about what they know or don’t know about a piece of music,” and his exploration of this relationship is fascinating. For instance, when he played his dissonant music at a Hurricane Katrina benefit and a disrupted family was in the audience, his host told him that, to them, “Your program made perfect sense.”
An honest, searching exploration of the artist as a young man.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").