ORNETTE COLEMAN

A HARMOLODIC LIFE

Life of the innovative, ``free jazz'' composer-musician that attempts to place him among the gods with Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. Litweiler, a former Downbeat editor, pursued free jazz in The Freedom Principle (1984). When alto-saxist Ornette Coleman (b. 1930) hit N.Y.C. in 1959 on a wave of critical praise and walked straight into a top gig at the Five Spot, older players were jealous, and few would accept his odd, seemingly wrong and unmusical way of playing. This was nothing new to Coleman, who had broken into the music business around Fort Worth, playing four-square white music for dances and be-bop for black clubs, and had been beaten in alleys for the way he soloed. But he heard within himself a wild goose honking to be free of the chords and key signatures that shackled other soloists. This liberation of jazz melody from traditional harmonic and rhythmic patterns led to free-form and post-bop jazz, with Coleman as its standard bearer. But despite his many, many recordings—few of which sell well—and great respect abroad, the musician's ``harmolodic concepts'' have not caught on widely in the States. When finally signed by a major label, Columbia, which recorded his Skies of America symphony, Coleman, according to Litweiler, wasn't given the proper backing in the studio and after. His latest work has done better and includes his brilliant soundtrack for the film Naked Lunch, and the infectious pop-music spirit of his recent Virgin Beauty album, with Jerry Garcia. A bio for initiates. Litweiler focuses strongly on the music, though if one hasn't heard it, no words can describe it—and newcomers will find it tough to follow the overload of ever- shifting personnel changes. (Eight page of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: April 16, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-07212-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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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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