Listen to the Stories: Nat Hentoff on Jazz and Country Music

Nat Hentoff, Author HarperCollins Publishers $23 (220p) ISBN 978-0-06-019047-7
Hentoff, music critic for the Wall Street Journal and author of numerous books on jazz and other subjects, has had a virtual lifelong love affair with jazz and country music. In these short pieces, many of which are reprinted from the Journal, he celebrates some of the musicians he has admired over the years, including Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge and Merle Haggard, as well as lesser-known artists such as the members of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-woman band from the 1930s and '40s, and country music singer Ralph Stanley. Hentoff, who was friends with many of these musicians, characterizes them with affection and brings their music alive on the page. He also examines the state of jazz today, the qualities that inform authentic jazz singing (some Bing Crosby performances included), the bonds between musicians, black consciousness in jazz and the often amusing and imaginative ways these performers have countered racism, ``being black and on the road when Jim Crow was glaring out the windows of just about every American town and city.'' A fitting tribute to jazz greats Hentoff regards as ``classic American heroes.'' (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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