Synopses & Reviews
Do you want to know when Duke Ellington was king of The Cotton Club? Have you ever wondered how old Miles Davis was when he got his first trumpet?
From birth dates to gig dates and from recordings to television specials, Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler have left no stone unturned in their quest for accurate, detailed information on the careers of 3.300 jazz musicians from around the world. We learn that Duke Ellington worked his magic at The Cotton Club from 1927 to 1931, and that on Miles Davis's thirteenth birthday, his father gave him his first trumpet. Jazz is fast moving, and this edition clearly and concisely maps out an often dizzying web of professional associations. We find, for instance, that when Miles Davis was a St. Louis teenager he encountered Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie for the first time. This meeting proved fateful, and by 1945 a nineteen-year-old Davis had left Juilliard to play with Parker on 52nd Street. Knowledge of these professional alliances, along with the countless others chronicled in this book, are central to tracing the development of significant jazz movements, such as the "cool jazz" that became one of Miles Davis's hallmarks.
Arranged alphabetically according to last name, each entry of this book chronologically lists the highlights of every jazz musician's career. Highly accessible and vigorously researched, The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz is, quite simply, the most comprehensive jazz encyclopedia available.
"A welcome sight for musicians, fans, and educators....Feather and Gitler's magnum opus is a fitting capstone to a magnificent century of swing, and a prophecy book foretelling the shapers of jazz to come."--DownBeat
and#8220;In addition to being a superb researcher, Epperson is also an engaging storyteller and he makes these historic figures come alive through their own words and actions.and#8221;
and#8220;We donand#8217;t normally review other publishersand#8217; titles, but this one is exceptional. . . . Although Bruce covers only jazz discography, the issues he examines and#8212;including copyright and plagiarism, validity of sources, the need for better documentation, intramural squabbling, and adaptation in the digital ageand#8212;will be of interest to collectors in all fields. Itand#8217;s a great read.and#8221;
and#8220;Epperson has produced a solidly researched work that traces the evolution of jazz discography from its humble beginnings as a hobbyistand#8217;s pastime and skillfully analyzes the issues confronting all discographers, past, present, and futureand#8212;from plagiarism, copyright issues, and validity of sources to adaptation in the digital age.and#8221;
and#8220;For many who think of jazz as captivating sound, alluring rhythm, and charismatic style, jazz discography might seem like a soulless business conducted by grim introverts obsessing over record matrix numbers. Epperson knows this, but he also knows that a certain group of people who have approached jazz with a and#8216;passionate attention to factsand#8217; regarding its recorded history have been absolutely critical to the life of the musicand#8212;critical, that is, because the acts of producing, distributing, collecting, and listening to jazz records are themselves primary acts of jazz interpretation, evaluation, canon building, and meaning making. Epperson, a scrupulous bibliophile who writes with a lucid and graceful clarity, has given us a fascinating book, a book that conceives of jazz as a field of music that is also a field of knowledge. More Important Than the Music not only opens our eyes to the importance of jazz discography; it also charms us with its deft portraits of the nerdiest of jazz nerds in all of their eccentric, indispensable glory.and#8221;
and#8220;Jazz discography is a home-grown science that evolved side by side with recording technology as well as the music itself. Counting both fanatical collectors and experienced scholars among its ranks, its practitioners have served as detectives, catalogers, musicologists, and historians. Over the course of nearly a century, they have created a body of knowledge that not only provides access to the music but also presents the possibility of analyzing and understanding the music on a larger scale. With jazz studies becoming more established in academia, there is a crucial need to understand its history. Epperson has presented the fascinating story of the field of jazz discography, clearly showing its development by illuminating the significant contributors and their projects.and#8221;
and#8220;On the surface, More Important Than the Music is an esoteric book, but Epperson has successfully managed to breathe life into the subject, weaving a story that opens up the field to a broader base of interest. He deals in fine detail with the origins and development of jazz discography, providing fascinating personal background on the major figures as well as addressing foundational issues such as plagiarism. A major contribution to jazz studies.and#8221;
Feather and Gitler have left no stone unturned in their quest for accurate, detailed information on the careers of 3,300 jazz musicians from around the world. Arranged alphabetically, each entry of this book lists the highlights of every jazz musician's career.
Today, jazz is considered high art, Americaandrsquo;s national music, and the catalog of its recordingsandmdash;its discographyandmdash;is often taken for granted. But behind jazz discography is a fraught and highly colorful history of research, fanaticism, and the intense desire to know who played what, where, and when. This history gets its first full-length treatment in Bruce D. Eppersonandrsquo;s More Important Than the Music
. Following the dedicated few who sought to keep jazzandrsquo;s legacy organized, Epperson tells a fascinating story of archival pursuit in the face of negligence and deception, a tale that saw curses and threats regularly employed, with fisticuffs and lawsuits only slightly rarer.
Epperson examines the documentation of recorded jazz from its casual origins as a novelty in the 1920s and andrsquo;30s, through the overwhelming deluge of 12-inch vinyl records in the middle of the twentieth century, to the use of computers by todayandrsquo;s discographers. Though he focuses much of his attention on comprehensive discographies, he also examines the development of a variety of related listings, such as buyerandrsquo;s guides and library catalogs, and he closes with a look toward discographyandrsquo;s future. From the little black book to the full-featured online database, More Important Than the Music offers a history not just of jazz discography but of the profoundly human desire to preserve history itself.
About the Author
, one of the deans of jazz criticism, is a widely respected figure in jazz writing. He moved to New York from England in the 1930s and made a significant career in jazz here as a journalist, producer, lecturer, broadcaster, musician, and writer of hundreds of jazz compositions. After founding The Encyclopedia of Jazz
series in the mid 1950s, he moved to California, becoming the jazz columnist for the Los Angeles Times
and The Book of Jazz
. Leonard Feather died in 1994. Ira Gitler's
writing has helped illuminate the jazz scene from 1951, when he wrote the first of countless album and CD annotations. He was the New York editor of Downbeat
in the 1960s and continues to contribute to that publication, as well as to JazzTimes
and Internet publications. His credits as a producer include recordings and concerts, and he teaches jazz history at the Manhattan School of Music. His books include the highly acclaimed Jazz Masters of the '40s
and Swing to Bop
, the latter written while hw was a Guggenheim fellow. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
1 The Sage of Edgware
2 and#147;Those Frenchmen Got a Hellova Nerveand#8221;
3 and#147;A Form of Musical Bookkeepingand#8221;
4 and#147;You Live in a Numerical World of Your Ownand#8221;
5 and#147;What a Messand#8221;
6 Specialized Discographies, Part 1
7 Specialized Discographies, Part 2
8 What Kind of Discographies Do We Want?
Notes to Pages