Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 31 of 31
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    I recently read “Practicing” by Glenn Kurtz:

    https://www.amazon.com/Practicing-Mu.../dp/0307278751

    It was a fascinating read and I highly recommend it. And I’m now hunting for my next book.

    Can anyone recommend any good books (novels) relating to Jazz guitar?

    Or Jazz in general? Or guitar in general?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje is a fictional story of the life of Buddy Bolden.

    Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful makes stories of the lives of Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Ben Webster, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Charles Mingus, as well as the road trips of Duke Ellington and Harry Carney.

  4. #3
    The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor is a work of fiction, about a bear who plays jazz. But it's no kids book. It captures the essence of the jazz scene in NY better than any other book I've read. And he's a bear.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    I love the bear comes home. also Bruce Forman wrote a novel ,acually a good read mIdont remember the title should not be hard to find.

  6. #5
    "Hot and Cool - Jazz Short Stories" is a nice collection that includes James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and a bunch of other great writers. Maybe not as engaging as a novel but you can grab a story when you have a few minutes while waiting for the rice to cook, etc.
    Also not a novel, but it almost reads like one and has been mentioned all over this forum: "Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original" by Robin Kelley. One of my all time favorite books, and I generally dislike biographies. Recommend reading it while keeping a full playlist of his music handy.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    I got in trouble when I was a kid, and was sent to the school library as punishment. I had never been to a library on my own before. All I did as a kid was play stickball and baseball, and read comic books.
    For some reason, I started reading "Jazz Country" by Nat Hentoff, a novel about a white kid that wants to be a jazz musician. He meets a bunch of jazz musicians in NY (modeled after people like Monk, Miles, etc...) and has to make a decision about whether he wants to go to college, or become a musician.

    He winds up going to college. I liked the book so much, I never returned it to the library.
    Thomas Pynchon wrote a short story about a jazz group that you can find in the compilation of his short stories called "Slow Learner".
    John Barth was a jazz drummer, and arranger, and made the decision to become a writer, because he wanted to become famous and successful, but as a musician, he'd always be a small-time nobody.

    A Welsh writer wrote a novel about Bill Evans that took place right after Scott La Faro died, and Evans lived with his parents for a month or so, grieving La Faro's death. The name of the book is "Intermission".

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Hampton Hawes ‘Raise up off me’ is a great biography that reads more like a novel.

    (He is the guy who wrote to JFK from prison and got a presidential pardon!)

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    This is probably one of the first jazz novels, I read it years ago and it was quite good as I recall:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youn...a_Horn_(novel)

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Hampton Hawes ‘Raise up off me’ is a great biography that reads more like a novel.

    (He is the guy who wrote to JFK from prison and got a presidential pardon!)
    hawes is also the pianist that got charlie haden to pack up and move to LA...he wanted to play with hawes!

    interesting 50's beat era book by john clellon holmes.the horn...supposedly based on saxman allen eager...but with some bird & lester young influences



    cheers

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    A Welsh writer wrote a novel about Bill Evans that took place right after Scott La Faro died, and Evans lived with his parents for a month or so, grieving La Faro's death. The name of the book is "Intermission".
    Owen Martell

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    ps- to hampton hawes

    jim hall was also a fan..cut some early tracks with him

    now legendary recordings



    cheers

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Hampton Hawes ‘Raise up off me’ is a great biography that reads more like a novel.

    (He is the guy who wrote to JFK from prison and got a presidential pardon!)
    Wasnt that something? What an easy and interesting read. I dont mean "easy" as insult or that it lacked depth. Quite the opposite. I thought his tales on so many things were very insightful without being preachy. So great!

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Don't forget Art Pepper's "Straight Life"
    So tragic (self inflicted) you won't be able to put it down.

    I enjoyed Whitney Balliett's "American Singers" chronicaling a day spent w each artist, pretty cool and a look into their personal lives.

    Oh, and Bill Crow's "Jazz Anecdotes" is a fun read. I drove up to the Catskills once and caught a friend of mine playing w Eddie Diehl and Bill Crow in a basement club. Bill had me in stitches on breaks!

    I usually lend out my jazz books and never get them back, so my shelf is usually pretty light, but I stopped lending out records when a friend's kid smeared jelly into the grooves of my copy of Betty Carter's "Out There" on Peacock. By the way if you don't know it you should, all star big band w Melba Liston arrangements, killer record!

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    ps- to hampton hawes

    jim hall was also a fan..cut some early tracks with him

    now legendary recordings



    cheers
    I bought all 3 volumes a long time ago and they lived on my turntable until my other records got jealous and threatened to split. swingin stuff, iirc they were all recorded in one long session, hence the title.

    p s. check out Hawes lp "Four" also on Contemporary w Kessel, Mitchell and Manne

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    The Bass Saxophone, Joseph Skvoreky (sp?). One of two novellas in one book by a great Czech writer so harassed by Moscow b/c his first novel 'humanized' rather than lionized the liberating Russian WWII forces he survived by writing murder mysteries under a pseudonym before fleeing to Canada.

    The forward of The Bass Saxophone, with it's recounting of nazi designations of verboten 'Judeo-Negro music; the allowable tempi for dancing, etc.---is stunning writing, and worth the price of the ticket.

    (Skvorskey's swing-loving characters Benny and his friends appear in other of his collected fiction)...

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    "Beneath the Underdog" by Charles Mingus. Somewhat autobiographical fiction of Mingus' early life. Quite interesting, I've reread it probably a dozen times in 40+ years.

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    I recently read a very short brief autobiography called 'Pig Ignorant', by a little known English science fiction writer called Nicholas Fisk. He specialised in dark sci-fi for children: a childrens' fiction equivalent of Philip K Dick. I used to love his books as a kid and I recently looked them up on Amazon to possibly read some of them with my son.

    In doing so I stumbled across 'Pig Ignorant'. It's not childrens' fiction, it's an account of his teenage years at the start of World War II. What's interesting is that he takes up jazz guitar at the start of the book, and it's interesting for its insights into Soho and life during the Blitz, as a teenager who plays a bit of jazz guitar in dives in 1939.

    A quick easy read, dirt cheap secondhand on Amazon, long out of print:
    Pig Ignorant (Teenage Memoirs): Amazon.co.uk: Fisk, Nicholas: 9780744521047: Books

    And I second the recommendation above for 'Coming Through Slaughter' by Ondaatje: a great little book.

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Benson: The Autobiography takes the reader along on the fabulous musical and cultural journey of one individual. Here and Now! The Autobiography of Pat Martino also recounts a unique and fascinating story.

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Geechnyc View Post
    Benson: The Autobiography takes the reader along on the fabulous musical and cultural journey of one individual. Here and Now! The Autobiography of Pat Martino also recounts a unique and fascinating story.
    I was amazed at the conclusion of Benson's autobiography. An old fan comes up to him and says that he was convinced that Charlie Parker destroyed jazz. Benson did some thinking on what the guy said, and he came to the conclusion that the guy was right, Charlie Parker DID destroy jazz!
    He said Bird's virtuosity alienated people back then, but then went on to say that HIS synthesis of elements of Bird's music combined with HIS use of contemporary styles had created a new type of music that revived jazz...

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    ^ ah, humility!! unreal!


    cheers

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Thumbs up for Hampton Hawes autobiography , two thumbs up for his playing , seriously underrated player .

    Mezz Mezzrow's ' Really the blues ' is tremendous fun as you would expect from someone who knew Al Capone and Louis Armstrong .

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    That's ok, Martino called Benson a good R&B guitarist too iirc.

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    A few -

    Gary Burton's Autobiography. ( recent )
    Pops - T Teachout
    Tal Farlow - A life in Jazz guitar by Katchoura & Michelle Farlow
    Thel. Monk by Kelley

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    Moonlight in Vermont by Lin Flanagan, bio of Johnny Smith.

    And not about jazz per se, but David Byrne's (of the Talking Heads fame) book The Bicycle Diaries is not what you'd expect. Or maybe you would. Very interesting although more about the experience of place than music, although the latter is also discussed.

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    Not quite jazz either, but I did enjoy Donald Fagen's "Eminent Hipsters." His college days, life on the road. Fun read.

  27. #26

    User Info Menu

    Toni Morrison’s Jazz is a novel that imitates the music, with characters improvising solos and a call-and-response structure.

  28. #27

    User Info Menu

    For those among us who read music, "Casals and the Art of Interpretation," by David Blum, conductor, is one of the best books on Music I have ever read. Blum uses specific musical examples from Casals to explain how the use of interpretive elements in music brings life and depth to the music we play. Although Casals was a Classical cellist, this book is not genre specific. ANY musician can benefit from his knowledge and will certainly benefit their playing. Highly recommended to the serious musician.
    Play live! . . . Marinero

  29. #28

    User Info Menu

    Billie Holiday's autobiography is also quite good. Here is the first sentence:

    "My parents were still kids when they married. My father was nineteen, my mother was thirteen, and I was three."

    A great opening if there ever was one!

  30. #29

    User Info Menu

    RL's Dream by Walter Mosley
    Lulu on the Bridge by Paul Auster
    My Life in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong
    Straight Life - The Story of Art Pepper

    there's more ....

  31. #30

    User Info Menu

    Joe Jackson's book was really good. Up to the time he made it "big". Maybe not a jazz artist (whatever that is) but very intelligent musician. The opening chapter of a nightmare gig is worth the price.

  32. #31

    User Info Menu

    Chan Parker’s My Life in E-Flat? must be worth reading.