Synopses & Reviews
A. J. Albany's recollection of life with her father, the great jazz pianist Joe Albany, is the story of one girl's unsentimental education. Joe played with the likes of Charles Mingus, Lester Young, and Charlie Parker, but between gigs he slipped into drug-induced obscurity. It was during these times that his daughter knew him best. After her mother disappeared, six-year-old Amy Jo and her charming, troubled father set up housekeeping in a seamy Hollywood hotel. While Joe finished a set in some red-boothed dive, chances were you'd find Amy curled up asleep on someone's fur coat, clutching a 78 of Louis Armstrong's "Sugar Blues" or, later, a photograph of the man himself, inscribed, "To little Amy Jo, always in love with you — Pops."
Wise beyond her years and hip to the unpredictable ways of Old Lady Life at all too early an age, A. J. Albany guides us through the dope and deviance of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Hollywood's shadowy underbelly and beyond. What emerges is a raw, gripping, and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a young girl trying to survive among the outcasts, misfits, and artists who surrounded her.
"Albany re-creates a landscape of her childhood where misery is a faraway sound floating above a voice speaking in tones of affection, terror, rage, love, and, most of all, a hipster's defiance." Greil Marcus
"In this beautiful memoir of jazz and junk, loyalty and abandonment, A. J. Albany the daughter of pianist Joe Albany writes with such straight-up charm and unsentimental lucidity that she makes her harrowing childhood seem as romantic and thrilling as she remembers it." Francine Prose
"Truly affecting....Though slim, Albany's well-wrought memoir contains emotional and lyrical volumes." Publisher's Weekly
"Lots of drugs and loneliness, some jazz: the author has perceptively written what she knows." Booklist
Her prose resembles the shimmering complexity of bop, with its feelings of tight yet improvisational dartings through memory. From the slag heap of the junkie lifestyle, she manages to spin literary gold.” Kirkus
Harrowing...an authentic trip through Hollywood's lower depths.” Los Angeles Times Book Review
Only the slyest and boldest writing about music, and families, comes to mind as you read Low Down: James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues, or David Goodis's Down There. Yet A. J. Albany's spirit and voice are fully her own fierce, funny, troubling, sad, rueful, joyous.” Robert Polito
About the Author
A.J. Albany lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children, Charlie and Dylan.
Read an exclusive essay by A. J. Albany