Jazz: America’s Gift; From Its Birth to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Beyond

Richie Gerber. Gerber’s Miracle Publishers, $27.95 (325p) ISBN 978-0-692-44553-2
Gerber, a musician and former organic food businessman, bolsters this book of historic facts and figures about jazz with a fairly complete survey of its origins in slave songs, spirituals, minstrel shows, and Storyville flesh dens, as well as a chronicle of the rise of New Orleans trumpeter Louis Armstrong. The author links the raw power of jazz and the blues to the country’s past of prejudice and racism and scores points with his bold commentary about the complicated political and cultural relationships between Jewish and black communities with regard to jazz. Gerber does well with the life of musical genius George Gershwin, a Brooklyn son of Russian Jews who rose from Tin Pan Alley to produce such startling masterpieces as “Porgy and Bess” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” He mostly keeps the text on point, but occasionally strays to insert personal asides about his own experiences as a Jewish American. Gerber’s deft, energetic examination of Gershwin’s music only illuminates the enormous Jewish contribution to the great American musical export, jazz. Artist Miguel Covarrubias provides illustrations throughout. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2015
Release date: 05/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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