cover image Jazz from Detroit

Jazz from Detroit

Mark Stryker. Univ. of Michigan, $39.95 (358p) ISBN 978-0-472-07426-6

Though Detroit is known for its legendary Motown music, former Detroit Free Press journalist Stryker’s exceptional book shows in swinging detail why the city was also a major focal point for jazz. Stryker outlines the various forces that created the conditions that spawned so many influential artists: “A unique confluence of economic, cultural, social, educational, and artistic factors transformed the city into a bebop factory,” Stryker writes. “The profound marriage of superb formal instruction in public schools with the informal academy that pianist Barry Harris ran in his home—plus a vibrant club scene operating at night—had a catalytic impact on jazz in Detroit.” Stryker focuses on Cass Technical High School, the jewel of the Detroit public school system, which was attended by guitarist Kenny Burrell, trumpeter Donald Byrd, and bassist Ron Carter in the 1940s and ’50s. Stryker cites the period from the 1940s to the ’60s as the “golden age” that produced the most influential musicians in jazz, many of whom eventually left Detroit, mostly for New York. In fluid, enthusiastic prose, Stryker details how those jazz musicians were also successful as classical artists and as Motown studio musicians. This astute music history will be a boon for jazz fans. (July)