Monday, February 20, 2012

Five of the best books on jazz

Nat Hentoff is an American historian, novelist, jazz and country music critic, and writes regularly on jazz and country music for The Wall Street Journal.

He named a five best list of books on jazz for the Journal, including:
Thelonious Monk
by Robin D.G. Kelly (2009)

Jazz musicians who continue to impress their peers and audiences have "signature sounds." After hearing a player for a short time, the listener almost immediately knows who he is. Sometimes it takes only a few bars, as with Thelonious Monk, an always surprising original both as a pianist and a composer. The creative dimensions of this ceaselessly inventive jazz master are artfully brought to life by Robin D.G. Taylor in his engrossing biography. When Monk had a long gig at the Five Spot in New York, the bar was packed with musicians not working that night. I was often among them. Being in the musical presence of Monk, who sometimes got up and danced to his music, was like being part of a beguiling adventure—a sense of possibility that Kelly fully captures. Another magnetic original, John Coltrane, who was a sideman with Monk at the Half Note, tells the author: "You never know exactly what's going to happen. One thing above all that Monk has taught me is not to be afraid to try anything as long as I feel it."
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue