American Singers: Twenty-Seven Portraits in Song

Whitney Balliett, Author Oxford University Press, USA $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-19-504610-6
The original, now out of print edition of American Singers reprinted biographical studies of 12 American ``non-academic'' vocalists from the New Yorker , for which Balliett has been jazz critic since 1957. Now double the size of its 1979 edition, the book contains new chapters on Julius La Rosa, Peggy Lee, George Shearing and Mel Torme, cabaret singer Julie Wilson, singer-pianists Cleo Brown and Nellie Lutcher, Betty Carter (``her onstage presence . . . is sound made three-dimensional''), Carol Sloane (``conversation put to music'') and songwriter-pianist-singer David Frishberg (``good lyrics come up to the edge of poetry and turn left''). One of the best interviewers in the field, Balliett peppers his articles with long, revealing quotations. Perhaps the most satisfying section here is the opening chapter, about songwriter-composer-lyricist Alec Wilder (``president of the derriere-garde''), whose funny, philosophic, hyperbolic attitudes on death, privacy and money, abhorrence of possessions, disregard for the recorded past and dislike of hirsute appendages are highlights of this delightful book. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-57806-835-7
Hardcover - 108 pages - 978-0-19-502524-8
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-19-506573-2
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