Thursday, March 17, 2011
New Arrivals: Three from the Music Shelves
Thelonious Monk: The Life And Times Of An American Original
Hardcover (out of print)
“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes!” So ranted Thelonious Sphere Monk, who proved his point every time he sat down at the keyboard. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest composers. Yet throughout much of his life, his musical contribution took a backseat to tales of his reputed behavior. Writers tended to obsess over Monk’s hats or his proclivity to dance on stage. To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or child-like. But, these labels tell us little about the man or his music.
"In the first book on Thelonious Monk based on exclusive access to the Monk family papers and private recordings, as well as a decade of prodigious research, prize-winning historian Robin D. G. Kelley brings to light a startlingly different Thelonious Monk–witty, intelligent, generous, family-oriented, politically engaged, brutally honest, and a devoted father and husband. Indeed, Thelonious Monk is essentially a love story. It is a story of familial love, beginning with Monk’s enslaved descendants from whom Thelonious inherited an appreciation for community, freedom, and black traditions of sacred and secular song. It is about a doting mother who scrubbed floors to pay for piano lessons and encouraged her son to follow his dream. It is the story of romance, from Monk’s initial heartbreaks to his life-long commitment to his muse, the extraordinary Nellie Monk. And it is about his unique friendship with the Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter, a scion of the famous Rothschild family whose relationship with Monk and other jazz musicians has long been the subject of speculation and rumor. Nellie, Nica, and various friends and family sustained Monk during the long periods of joblessness, bipolar episodes, incarceration, health crises, and other tragic and difficult moments.
Above all, Thelonious Monk is the gripping saga of an artist’s struggle to “make it” without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the twentieth century. Elegantly written and rich with humor and pathos, Thelonious Monk is the definitive work on modern jazz’s most original composer."
MC5: The Future Is Now
Paperback (out of print)
"The MC5 remain one of the most explosive and legendary rock bands of the '60s. Formed in Detroit and managed by John Sinclair, leader of the revolutionary White Panther Party, the MC5 soon became a potent musical and political force in their own right, and with their rally cry of "Kick Out The Jams, Motherfuckers!" they pioneered a devastating fusion of freeform rock and incendiary protest. Storming live performances – often supported by fellow Detroit rock legends Iggy And The Stooges – cemented the band's iconic status.The Future Is Now! is an illustrated account of the origins of the MC5, their relationship with Sinclair and the White Panthers, the creation of their seminal LP Kick Out The Jams, and the political mayhem of 1969 which led to the group being dropped by their record label Elektra and the Panthers being indicted and broken by the US government. While a relatively short account, it's worth it for the wonderful photographs of the band in action, and the introduction it renders (including their 10 Point Program) to the criminally (still) unknown White Panther Party." -AK Press
The Musical World Of Halim El-Dabh
Paperback with CD
An overview of the composer's life and work with a cd of aconcert for the re-opening of the Library of Alexandria. (The below cd review gives a pretty good taste of Halim's work and importance.)
"...an exceptional collection of pieces by one of the pioneers of electronic and tape music. Halim El-Dabh began experimenting with wire recorders in Egypt even before Schaeffer inaugurated the practice of Musique Concrete in France - one piece here dates from that period ('Wire Recorder Piece', 1944) and is thus of great historical importance. Most of the other works were recorded in 1959 and evidence a remarkable body of work and experimentation. El-Dabh does not sound like his fellow Electronic Music brethren (he was working at The Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Centre) but is more organic, physical and eccentric; more like Sun Ra than Mario Davidovsky. There is much use of objects and some instruments, as well as electronically generated tones and concrete techniques of tape manipulation and electronic processing. And very imaginative use of the human voice. Most of the groundbreaking 'opera' 'Leiyla and the Poet' is included here for the first time on record. Indispensible." (from a review of the CD release Crossing the Electric Magnetic by ReR)
These books, and thousands of others, can be purchased from:
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