STILL GRAZING: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela, Author, D. Michael Cheers, Author . Crown $24 (394p) ISBN 978-0-609-60957-6

In America, South African trumpeter Masekela is most known for "Grazing in the Grass," which reached number one on U.S. pop charts in 1968. But in the almost 40 years since, Masekela has been a huge star in Europe and Africa, recording more than 40 albums and constantly touring. The first part of this lengthy autobiography—written with Ebony magazine editor Cheers—covers from Masekela's birth in 1939 to his flight to the U.S in 1960, offering a detailed look at life under the racist system of apartheid in which his trumpet became his "personal choice of weapon." The middle section is a virtual history of American music in the 1960s, from Masekela raising U.S interest in African music along with singer Miriam Makeba to his becoming friends with everyone from jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie (who introduced him to Miles Davis) to rock star David Crosby (who introduced him to LSD). The final section moves from Masekela's international adventures, including playing with Nigerian musician Fela and watching the Ali-Forman fight in Zaire to garnering critical praise in the late 1980s with his musical Sarafina and touring with Paul Simon in support of Simon's Graceland album. Masekela's story too often pauses to detail the constant womanizing and nonstop drug and alcohol abuse from which he has recently recovered. But it also offers excellent descriptions of his musical accomplishments, which he beautifully defines as "a potpourri of the music of the African Diaspora." (May)

Forecast: The publication of this book coincides with the release of a retrospective CD set, which should successfully reintroduce him to U.S. fans of world music and help promote this autobiography.

Reviewed on: 04/19/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-307-54752-1
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Paperback - 394 pages - 978-1-4000-8317-6
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