STIR IT UP

MUSICAL STEWS FROM ROOTS TO JAZZ

An impressive variety of music is surveyed—rock, jazz, reggae, Afropop, Brazilian Tropicalia—in these reviews and interviews reprinted from the Nation, the Atlantic Monthly, and elsewhere. The collection starts, pointedly, with a Paul Simon interview about his collaborations with South African musicians on the controversial Graceland album. This story raises hopes for big topics from the essays to come: synthesis of international styles, cultural appropriation, politics, and music. But Santoro (Dancing in Your Head: Jazz, Blues, Rock, and Beyond, not reviewed) delivers a more diffuse collection. The pieces are about albums, or musicians, or musical ideas explored with particular musicians as examples—or all of the above. Sting discusses how ``there aren't any original ideas'' and where creativity does come from. The Bob Marley chapter serves as a short, informative history of reggae music, featuring Bob Marley. In the section on jazz bassist Tim Drummond, Santoro is content, for the most part, to let this outspoken man hold court. The jazz greats are perhaps best covered: John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, and others. Perhaps the influences and heirs-apparent are clearer in jazz. Or maybe jazz musicians just have the best stories to tell—Mingus, for instance, checks into Bellevue for a rest, ``as if it were a resort hotel,'' and then has trouble getting out. Sometimes Santoro's hip, smart style threatens to distract. Trail-blazing saxophonist John Zorn's music, for instance, contains ``pieces of a subatomic jigsaw puzzle whose Heisenbergian reality is connected by dots in the mind of the observer.'' Intelligent coverage of major artists—Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and David Byrne are all included—will appeal to many readers. But the overarching theme of cross-cultural pollination remains merely a rough reference point for the volume—a title pasted across a disparate, if thoughtful collection of writings.

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-19-509869-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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