Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Norman Granz, Oscar Peterson, Ray Charles, Don Ellis, and Miles Davis--these are the dozen jazz figures whom Leonard Feather chose to describe the development of jazz. This is the first Feather book to examine in-depth the innovative figures who have led the way throughout the music's history. As composer, producer, and for almost half-a-century one of its leading critics, Feather has a unique perspective of these jazz immortals. He has worked with and known all of them. "These are portraits of human beings first, analyses of musicians or musical history only peripherally if at all," says Feather in his new foreword. A warm, affectionate, and perceptive inside account of twelve originals, the book is packed with wonderful stories. As Feather says: "Most of all I am grateful for the inspiration and friendship of the artists themselves. Armstrong and Ellington were directly responsible, through their records, for drawing me to jazz.
After their magic had worked on me, the others, one by one, sustained and refreshed and invigorated my interest in, an involvement with, this liveliest of twentieth-century arts."
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(229mm x 152mm x 16mm)
Da Capo Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
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US Kirkus Review »
Tributes, farewells and appreciations of a dozen jazz greats by the internationally known critic. Despite Feather's close personal involvement with Armstrong, Ellington, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Gillespie, et al., only a few of these portraits are as incandescent as Satchmo's horn. Although he is impatient with stereotyped images he usually ends by confirming the substance of the legends - the tawdry glamour of Lady Day, the elegance of Ellington, the exuberant exhibitionism of Dizzy. Best realized is Louis ("Redbeans and Ricely yours") Armstrong romping his way through a New Orleans Mardi Gras in uninhibited enjoyment at being crowned King of the Zulus. More than most jazz critics Feather is willing to explore the racism which permeated the early jazz scene and the postures and strategies adopted by the musicians to preserve their personal and artistic integrity. Lamenting those - Billie and Parker - who destroyed themselves with drugs and alcohol he takes a few swipes at the public (and his fellow critics) for not recognizing genius in obscurity. The respect and esteem the jazz men were accorded in Europe is contrasted with American audience's disregard and the chronic economic insecurities which plagued so many careers evoke an occasional note of bitterness. Throughout - even when interviewing a hostile and willfully alienating Miles Davis - Feather is a kind and empathic friend who enjoys spotlighting his virtuosos at their loosest and best. Pleasant, easy-going riffs directed at fans rather than connoisseurs - these profiles definitely Accentuate the Positive. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Leonard G. Feather
Leonard Feather is one of the handful of indispensable jazz critics. His many books include From Satchmo to Miles, Inside Jazz, Laughter from the Hip (with Jack Tracy), all published by Da Capo Press/Perseus Book Group, and the Pleasures of Jazz, along with other works. Composer, pianist, record producer, critic, he remains a vital presence on the jazz scene.