NO MINOR CHORDS

MY DAYS IN HOLLYWOOD

The fabled days of MGM at the crest of its manufacturing of musicals, very amusingly re-created by a top arranger-conductor. Sixteen-year-old musical whiz Previn started work in MGM's music department in 1948—and stuck around until 1964. A German refugee who had attended the Paris Conservatory and was a phenomenal sight reader, Previn had endured a stint as an improvising pianist for a silent-movie revival house and been arranging for radio shows when MGM's music department hired him to write some jazz variations on ``Three Blind Mice.'' More minor jobs at MGM had landed him, by 18, a contract as a staff arranger and his first solo credit on the screen, for The Sun Comes Up, based on a novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Most of his early work, he says here, was on nonsensical, forgotten films that still embarrass him when he catches them on late-night TV. But his education bounded forward, and before he left he'd won Oscars for Gigi, Porgy and Bess, My Fair Lady, and Irma la Douce. His story here is told anecdotally around such figures as Jascha Heifetz, the great film composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rozsa, Bernard Herrmann, and William Walton, directors Vincente Minelli, George Cukor, young Mike Nichols, and Billy Wilder, studio heads L.B. Mayer, Jack Warner, and Sam Goldwyn, and actors Rex Harrison, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire—and Lassie. Previn had the rankling privilege of being snubbed by Lassie, which he attributed to his low caste as a musician. At times, his stories bring outright laughter, such as his being discovered with pianist Mel Powell playing four-hand Haydn symphonies on an old upright piano outdoors in a snowstorm. Sheer charm. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 1991

ISBN: 0-385-41341-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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