A casual yet palatable guide to the music of New Orleans that serves up its spicy musical and historical matter in high style.
Seeking clues to the city's rich musical heritage, Lichtenstein (Machisma, 1981) and Dankner (Music/Loyola University) find them in New Orleans's extraordinary racial and cultural mix, and in an appreciation for revelry that goes back to Louisiana's first French governor. The authors describe the Sunday celebrations of slaves in Congo Square, and the influence their music had on the musicians of the city's red-light district. We meet mythic figures like Buddy Bolden, Tony Jackson (so eager to play piano that he built his own at age seven), and Jelly Roll Morton. We encounter Louis Armstrong, whose genius made jazz jump, dropping a sheet of lyrics in the middle of a recording session and inventing scat out of sheer inspired desperation. The authors also make clear the city's contribution to rhythm and blues and rock, with the gospel- drenched voicings of Ray Brown and Little Richard, and with Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew honing the art of the "two minute radio hit.'' Full of stories, anecdotes, and interviews, the text describes the contribution of masters like Dr. John and the Neville Brothers to many classic R&B recordings, and it brings us up to the present with performers like the Marsalis family, the Rebirth Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and many underappreciated musicians. And though the authors tiptoe around controversies like the one surrounding Wynton Marsalis's paradox-riven jazz purism, they don't fail to investigate the role of education or of ethnic and social tensions in New Orleans's musical development, and they make clear how the various artists have suffered for the music that has made their city "America's Florence.''
Should inspire many new visitors to the Crescent city and hip them to what's been cooking there all these years.
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").
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)