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Three Chords for Beauty's Sake: The Life of Artie Shawby Tom Nolan
Synopses & Reviews
During America's Swing Era, no musician was more successful or controversial than Artie Shaw: the charismatic and opinionated clarinetist-bandleader whose dozens of hits became anthems for "the greatest generation." But some of his most beautiful recordings were not issued until decades after he'd left the scene. He broke racial barriers by hiring African American musicians. His frequent "retirements" earned him a reputation as the Hamlet of jazz. And he quit playing for good at the height of his powers. The handsome Shaw had seven wives (including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner). Inveterate reader and author of three books, he befriended the best-known writers of his time. Tom Nolan, who interviewed Shaw between 1990 and his death in 2004 and spoke with one hundred of his colleagues and contemporaries, captures Shaw and his era with candor and sympathy, bringing the master to vivid life and restoring him to his rightful place in jazz history.
Book News Annotation:
Nolan, an author and journalist, offers a biography of jazz clarinetist and big band leader Artie Shaw (1910-2004), from his childhood growing up in a poor Jewish family in New Haven to his career as a jazz musician. Drawing on 14 years of interviews with Shaw and his contemporaries, print and broadcast sources, and Shaw's memoir, Nolan describes how Shaw sold millions of recordings, including "Begin the Beguine" and "Star Dust"; led several bands; challenged racial barriers and hired African American musicians like Billie Holiday; and fostered a career that lasted from the 1920s to the 1950s, when he retired at the age of 44. He also describes his relationships with other musicians, from Duke Ellington to Tommy Dorsey to Benny Goodman, and his marriages to eight wives, including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
For his centennial, an indispensable biography of Artie Shaw, the legendary big-band leader, virtuoso clarinetist, and renegade in music and romance.
About the Author
Tom Nolan, the author of the critically acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated Ross Macdonald: A Biography, is a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal's Leisure & Arts page. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
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