Dave Brubeck: Small Groups, Large Stature
Why Jazz Happened
I recently received in the mail a copy of Marc Myers' new book, Why Jazz Happened, which was obviously sent by someone who wasn't aware that I neither read nor review books. I do, however, read blogs including Myers' popular "Jazz Wax," and can say without pause that he is an excellent writer who is extremely knowledgeable about jazz of all stripes and eras. The book, which covers the years between World War II and Watergate, is described in a press release as "the first comprehensive social history of jazz." In other words, it places the music in context, outlining and analyzing the cultural forces that helped shape the music and gave rise to various post-war styles. It is written from the "inside out," encompassing numerous interviews and comments by musicians, producers, promoters and others who were on the scene and knew in detail what was happening. Publishers Weekly sums it up nicely: "In this energetic and captivating tale, Wall Street Journal music critic [Marc] Myers enthusiastically chronicles the many social, political, legal and monetary forces outside of music that shaped the evolution of jazz. With impeccable timing, Myers provides a steady backbeat of stories [about] the development of music from bebop, jazz-classical and West Coast jazz to spiritual jazz, jazz-pop and jazz-rock fusion . . . Like a great jazz recording, Myers's first-rate social history pulls us into its complex rhythms and harmonies, casting its mesmerizing spell." And that's as close as I'll come to reviewing a book, except to say, Marc, I hope it sells at least a million copies.
Closer to Home . . .
On December 7, Betty and I returned to Albuquerque's Manzano High School for a concert featuring the school's two jazz ensembles and the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra with guest artist Mike Williams, the lead trumpeter with the Count Basie Orchestra. Williams also performed with the high school bands, which played well for director Brad Dubbs, soloing on Doug Beach's "Plunger Power," the Louis Armstrong staple "What a Wonderful World," and the Maynard Ferguson favorite, "Gonna Fly Now" (a.k.a. the theme from Rocky).