BLUE

THE MURDER OF JAZZ

Nisenson (Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest, 1993, etc.) adds another voice to the increasingly shrill debate on the future of jazz and the role of Wynton Marsalis and his friends in that future. Tom Piazza's Blues Up and Down (p. 1443) denounced critics who rejected the neoclassicism of the young musicians around Marsalis, hinting that those critics' emphasis on emotional statement and innovation had an unspoken racism underlying it. Nisenson has written a virtual manifesto for the opposing view. He jumps into the fray with both feet, accusing the ``revivalists,'' as he calls Marsalis and his coterie, of ``smothering the heart and soul of jazz with their love.'' He repeats the often-made accusations against Marsalis, his primary mouthpiece, Stanley Crouch, and their mentor Albert Murray, that there is implicit racism in their insistence that only African-Americans can truly play jazz, that jazz has its roots exclusively in the African-American experience. He also repeats the claim that Marsalis's hiring practices at Lincoln Center, where he directs the jazz program, have been both racist (few white musicians hired, only one—Gerry Mulligan—feted) and ageist. Then he offers a canned history of the music, designed to provide evidence for his own understanding of jazz a view that is no less essentialist and no less limited than the one he assails. The basic problem with this book, indeed, with this entire debate, is that nobody is offering a definition of jazz, based solely on musical analysis. Rather, as in Nisenson's book, what we are getting is a potted mix of half-understood sociology, half-digested musicology, and half-baked mythology. Nisenson compounds the felony with a writing style that is drenched in clichÇs. Will someone please step back from this fight and offer a dispassionate assessment of the state of jazz, the history of jazz, and the future of jazz? This book certainly isn't it.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-16785-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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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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