Archive for “Biographers”

Interviews » Biographers

Peter Levinson, author of September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle

Nelson Riddle will forever be linked with the music and recordings of such unforgettable vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Linda Ronstadt, and dozens of others. Riddle not only helped to establish Nat “King” Cole’s career in the 1950s, but was also a major participant in reviving Sinatra’s career. He served as arranger of many classic Sinatra albums, including Only the Lonely and In the Wee Small Hours.

September in the Rain is the first biography of the most highly-respected arranger in the history of American popular music.
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Interviews » Biographers

Douglas Daniels, author of Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester “Pres” Young

ester Young was jazz music’s first hipster. He performed onstage in sunglasses and coined and popularized the enigmatic slang “that’s cool” and “you dig?” He was a snazzy dresser who always wore a suit and his trademark porkpie hat. He influenced everyone from B. B. King to Stan Getz to Allen Ginsberg. When he died, he was the subject of musical tributes by Charles Mingus (“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”) and Wayne Shorter (“Lester Left Town”), and incidents from his life were featured in the movie ‘Round Midnight. […] Continue reading »

Interviews » Biographers

Phil Pastras, author of Dead Man Blues: Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West

When Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton sat at the piano in the Library of Congress in May of 1938 to begin his monumental series of interviews with Alan Lomax, he spoke of his years on the West Coast with the nostalgia of a man recalling a golden age, a lost Eden. He had arrived in Los Angeles more than twenty years earlier, but he recounted his losses as vividly as though they had occurred just recently. The greatest loss was his separation from Anita Gonzales, by his own account “the only woman I ever loved,” to whom he left almost all of his royalties in his will. […] Continue reading »

Interviews » Biographers

Stephanie Stein Crease, author of Gil Evans: Out of the Cool

When Stephanie Stein Crease was a child, and her older brother started bringing home records by Gil Evans and Miles Davis, her world turned. Fascinated by the colorful orchestrations found on Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, recorded between 1957 and 1960, Crease began a life long affair with the music of Evans, a man noted critic Gary Giddins has called “one of the great figures in American music.” Gil Evans, Out of the Cool, is a culmination of her fascination of and appreciation for the work of Gil Evans. […] Continue reading »

Interviews » Biographers

Eric Nisenson, author of Open Sky: Sonny Rollins and His World of Improvisation

Author Eric Nisenson has devoted much of his adult life to reporting jazz. The genesis of his passion for jazz was his introduction to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue at an early age – a passion so strong it eventually led to a friendship with Miles. The subjects for his three biographies are no less than Miles, John Coltrane, and now, Sonny Rollins, all key musicians and all strong, unique personalities worthy of icon status in the world of music. Nisenson discusses his friendship with Miles and his new book, Open Sky : Sonny Rollins and His World of Improvisation […] Continue reading »

Interviews » Biographers

Gerald Early, author of Miles Davis and American Culture

Gerald Early is Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University in St. Louis, and is one of America’s most respected essayists. His work on American and African American culture is collected in Tuxedo Junction, The Culture of Bruising (National Book Award), and One Nation Under a Groove, a book on Motown.

He has edited collections on African American rhetoric, black consciousness, sports, Muhammad Ali, and African American writing about St. Louis.
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Interviews » Biographers

Jeroen de Valk, author of Chet Baker: His Life and Music

Chet Baker was a star at 23 years old, winner of the Critics as well as Readers Poll in Down Beat. But much of his later life was shadowed by his drug use and problems with the law.

Chet Baker: His Life and Music gives an account of the famous trumpeter – famous as much for his tragic life as his beautiful music. In our interview, conducted via e-mail, author Jeroen de Valk talks about Baker, the life he led, the people he touched, and the legacy he left.
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Interviews » Biographers

Ean Wood, author of The Josephine Baker Story

The effervescent smile of Josephine Baker is easily recognizable. The mellifluous tone of her voice is legendary. Epitomizing the adage “all that glitters is not gold,” her life was plagued with broken marriages, discrimination, poverty, and eventually illness.

In his book, The Josephine Baker Story, author Ean Wood, who previously wrote of George Gershwin’s life, presents us with a portrait of a truly remarkable woman whose charm, vivacity and captivating personality live on long after her death. […] Continue reading »

Interviews » Biographers

William Zinsser, author of Mitchell and Ruff: An American Profile in Jazz

Since 1955, Dwike Mitchell and Willie Ruff have been performing, teaching, and sharing jazz with the country and the world. William Zinsser, best-selling author of On Writing Well, follows the duo to China, to the American Midwest, to New York City, and to Venice (where Ruff travels back to the roots of Western music in order to explore jazz’s heritage).

Zinsser tells how these two men, raised in small towns in the South in the 1930s and 40s, struggled and persevered to become masters of their craft–and how they came to embrace the tradition of jazz as it is handed down from one generation to the next. […] Continue reading »