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.)
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)
With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.
In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles.
A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.