978-1-57806-834-0 / 9781578068340

American Musicians II: Seventy-one Portraits in Jazz


Publisher:University Press of Mississippi



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About the book:

An earlier version of American Musicians appeared in 1986. Now the author has added 17 essays to the collection, and the result is a highly personal encyclopedia of jazz history, written with Whitney Balliett's trademark lyricism. Few critics can describe a piece of music with this kind of delicacy and precision. And the comments that Balliett elicits from his subjects are themselves worth the price of admission. Here, for example, pianist John Lewis goes right to the heart of jazz improvisation, and gives us a hint of what lays behind it: "When I take a solo, I try not to look at my fingers. It distracts me from music-making . . . I think about other things, even other music. If you break through those mere rules, destroy them, that's good, and it can become quite a marvelous experience. It's not just sadness or joy, it's something beyond that, perhaps exhilaration, but that's rare."

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