THE SOUND by Russell Ross


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This is a first novel about the decline and fall of a jazz musician written with considerable skill and obvious knowledge of the dramatic subject of jazz. It's told from the point of view of Bernie Rich, a musician, classically schooled, who is basically an outsider to the major influence of his life -- the music, the ""sound"" of the trumpet player, Red Travers. Travers is a composite, end product of all the great trumpeters and like them he is an innovator, known only to the coterie, though his influence is widely felt. The story is also about the education of Bernie Rich -- his role in Traver's small group, the evolution of his style, his brotherly affair with Travers' white mistress, the shuttling back and forth across the country at Red's whim, and his eventual realization that he could never master the essence of Travers' music because Travers' world was beyond his experience. Rich is white, middle class, and middle class in his attitudes and playing. Unlike Travers his music does not represent the sum total of his life; it cannot be greater than he is, neither can he be destroyed by it. His experiments in heroin, in imitation of Travers, can't help his music and prove to be a fiasco. Finally Travers is killed in a Harlem brawl and Rich ends up in Hollywood, musical director for a movie studio, conscious of his total gains and losses. It's a convincing story, with a legitimate point to make, and unquestionably it would be of interest to the fans of jazz fiction.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1961
Publisher: Dutton