KITTY COLLINS by Philip Gould


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Plainly and purely sentimental as a pop ballad of the Forties, this is a tale of a good little puffed-sleeved and swing-skirt lass who matures to a Mabel Mercer kind of jazz artist with a similar cult following. Throughout, there are worshipful tributes (capsuled and skimming) to great jazz performers of the 30's and 40's. Fourteen-year-old Kitty Collins has been abandoned by her mother, off with her latest john. To the rescue comes Kitty's idol and teacher, black jazz pianist Roberta Wilkins, who takes her in. . .until trouble lurks in Roberta's seedy Chicago neighborhood, and Roberta sends reluctant Kitty to board with nuns in her convent school. Perceptive Sister Edmund drills Kitty in classical, but Kitty continues to feast on jazz music--from Goodman to Hoagy and others. At the home of Sister E.'s parents, Kitty learns the disadvantages of her shaky background, but when Kitty, nun-approved, is performing at a private party, in walks Graham Allen; and by the time Kitty has been moved in with a bustling family of parents and four boys (who have their own band), she and Graham vow to marry. In spite of Church and family dismay, Graham (20) and Kitty (16) wed; then Graham is off to war; and Kitty is left--with her music. There's a brief stand with a bubbly Meyer Davis type of band and then--the glories of Manhattan; a reunion with Roberta and golden-toned trumpeter Rex, Roberta's long-lost husband; and 52nd Street with its two dozen sleazy-looking nightclubs and those Names: Holiday, Tatum, Hawkins, etc! Kitty is on her way as a pianist and vocalist, But returning Graham turns heavy and says nix to Kitty's career. What's ahead? The man she loves or music, music, music? Kitty's story is super-sweet, but for jazz buffs who remember 52nd Street in the Forties, there are a few nostalgic licks.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Algonquin