Mostly hits all the right notes, with several strong chapters easily outweighing the occasional miscue.

READ REVIEW

Erich Graf--Musician, Flutist, Advocate

A MEMOIR

A look back on a life full of collaborative endeavors both onstage and behind the scenes.

In this solid memoir, Graf traces his influences and development as a professional artist and, more generally, as a human being. From his youth spent studying in New York City, he recalls the highly competitive culture that permeated Juilliard. He also provides unique perspectives for those who wonder about the inner workings of celebrated musical institutions: “In a jaded orchestral environment like the New York Philharmonic, only greenhorns and brown-nosers actually watch the conductor.” Eventually, Graf found his way to the Utah Symphony, where he performed as principal flutist for well over three decades. In addition, for 17 years he served as president of Local 104 of the American Federation of Musicians. Readers interested in this aspect of the lives of professional musicians may be disappointed by the section titled “President’s Messages—Local 104 Newsletters,” which presents fragments of union publications in a somewhat haphazard fashion, not even in chronological order. Instead, readers might benefit more by skipping to the tribute penned in 2011 by union attorney Joseph Hatch, which offers more cohesive, substantive details regarding Graf’s tenure as a labor leader. While the author’s recollections of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood are certainly well-written and informative, the most noteworthy chapter is “Seven Essays on the Dénouement of the Graf Family and the Closing of the Family Home,” in which Graf returns to Ann Arbor in middle age to face the declines and deaths of his parents, including his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. This is a universal story told with power and heart, as in an eerie moment involving the possessions of a departed loved one: “I threw out my mother’s half-deteriorated alarm clock, and when I tossed the Hefty Bag with the forty others destined for junk, the alarm began ringing.” The strength of this moving section alone makes Graf’s memoir worth a read.

Mostly hits all the right notes, with several strong chapters easily outweighing the occasional miscue.

Pub Date: April 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6233-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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