cover image Cats of Any Color: Jazz, Black and White

Cats of Any Color: Jazz, Black and White

Graham Lees, Gene Lees. Oxford University Press, USA, $25 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-19-508448-1

Lees, former editor of Down Beat, presents a collection of essays, most of which are based on interviews originally published in Jazzletter. He talks with ethnomusicologist Dominique de Lerma, pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, singer Ernie Andrews, pianist and composer Horace Silver, trumpeter Red Rodney, saxophonist and composer Benny Golson, bassist Red Mitchell, pianist and composer Cedar Walton, drummer Kenny Washington and pianist and drummer Jack DeJohnette. In discussing their careers, most are restrained about the issue of racism and jazz. Only in his final piece does Lees, a white, Canadian-born writer who deplores attempts by black musicians to claim jazz as a purely black art form, get to the meat of his book, an attack on what he considers the antiwhite bias about jazz currently fostered by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and writers like Herb Boyd and Stanley Crouch. This, in addition to the interview with de Lerma, a black who challenges simplistic myths concerning the origins of jazz, provides a thought-provoking look at the contemporary jazz world. (Oct.)