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Synopses & Reviews
An evening with Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot Cafe. Jelly Roll Morton's recordings for the Library of Congress. Langston Hughes reading poetry to the sound of jazz. The tragic life of Billie Holiday. Over the years, Martin Williams has explored subjects both intimate and imposing, always with a sharp eye and prose as musical as his beloved jazz. In Jazz Changes, he brings together some of the finest pieces he has written over the last thirty years to take readers on an engaging personal tour of the changing jazz world.
Jazz Changes is Williams's third and perhaps best collection of jazz portraits, interviews, narrative accounts of recording sessions, rehearsals, and performances, important liner notes, and far-reaching discussions of musicians and their music. Here he offers an extended interview with Ross Russell about the famous Dial Record sessions with Charlie Parker that Russell initiated, his extensive notes for the reissue of the famous recording session conducted with Jelly Roll Morton at the Library of Congress in 1938, as well as profiles and comments on such performers as John Lewis, Thelonious Monk, Dinah Washington, and Fats Waller. We read amusing parodies of how jazz critics in 1965 might have assessed the Beatles (he has one well-known critic saying that Paul McCartney "sings as if he half expected a shrewish mother to scold him for paying too much attention to the girls") and reflections on the Ellington era (Ellington "worked with [the orchestra] as the great playwrights have worked with their companies of actors...as the great European composers have worked for specific instrumentalists or singers"). He concludes with an eloquent plea for critics to pay attention to jazz history: "We all need to show that we are absolutely serious about this music as a contribution to world culture. And that means we must treat it in the same way that man has always treated a past he wants preserved and respected." And on every page, Williams's keen mind and gifted pen bring the music and the musicians to life.
Praised as "perhaps the greatest living jazz critic" (Gunther Schuller) and "one of the most distinguished critics (of anything) this country has produced" (Gary Giddins, The Village Voice), Martin Williams has been perceptively chronicling the development of jazz for more than three decades. Building on the great success of his previous collections of jazz writings--The Jazz Tradition, Jazz Heritage, and Jazz in its Time--this book offers brilliant insights into today's changing jazz scene.
Jazz Changes is the late Martin Williams's third and perhaps best collection of jazz portraits, interviews, narrative accounts of recording sessions, rehearsals, and performances, important liner notes, and far reaching discussions of musicians and their music. The collection includes thirty years of Williams's finest pieces taking readers on an engaging tour of the changing jazz world. There are appreciation-profiles and comments on such performers as Ross Russell--about the noted Dial Record sessions with Charlie Parker--and greats like John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Jelly Roll Morton, Ornette Coleman, Dinah Washington, and Thelonious Monk. Williams also offers parodies of how jazz critics in 1965 might have assessed the Beatles, and reflections on the Ellington era. He concludes with an elegant plea for critics to pay attention to jazz history, always exhibiting his keen mind and gifted pen.
About the Author
About the Author -
Martin Williams has written and edited a number of books on jazz. His articles have appeared in such places as Harper's, The New York Times, Evergreen Review, Stereo Review, and Down Beat.
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