Night Lights Classic Jazz

Jazz Books and Bios in the Publishing Pipeline

bookInspired by a recent thread at Organissimo, here’s a list of jazz biographies and books that are in various stages of completion, nearing completion, or nearing publication:

Peter Pullman’s book on Bud Powell. Pullman has been at work on this ever since overseeing the impressive booklet for the great jazz pianist’s Complete Verve Recordings back in 1994. Fastidiously researched, it’s reportedly finished and being looked at by a possible publisher.

George Lewis’ study of the AACM and Chicago’s experimental-jazz scene is almost out. Judging from the excerpt I read two years ago in Uptown Conversation, this will be a heavy book in more ways than one.

Robin D.G. Kelley’s book on Thelonious Monk. Kelley, who wrote Hammer and Hoe, a compelling history of African-American involvement in the Communist Party during Alabama’s Depression years, has enjoyed the cooperation of the Monk family with his biographical project. Here’s a video of a lecture he gave on Monk’s musical education two years ago at Baruch College.

Jack Chambers’ book on Richard Twardzik. Odd publication snags have hit this biography of the brilliant 24-year-old pianist who died while on tour with Chet Baker in 1955.

Allen Lowe’s book on jazz in the 1950s. Lowe’s previous two books, That Devlin’ Tune and From Minstrel to Mojo, provided comprehensive and idiosyncratically smart takes on the respective early years of American jazz and popular music. Lowe’s written a new underground history that takes jazz up to the end of the 1950s–a period rife with all sorts of interesting explorations that culminated in Ornette Coleman’s appearance at the Five Spot in 1959 (a year we’ve taken note of before).

Some books for which no plans exist (afaik), but which I’d love to read some day:

A book about Chicago’s 1940s and 50s bebop and hardbop scene.

A massive, all-but definitive biography of Duke Ellington.

A book about the downtown New York City scene of the 1980s and early 1990s.

A biography of Claude Thornhill (shows my Hoosier native prejudice; he was from Terre Haute).

A book about the mid-20th century Indianapolis jazz world (back in my own backyard again) that produced Wes Montgomery, J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, David Baker, Jimmy Spaulding, and Larry Ridley.

In the meantime, reading the Lewis AACM alone will keep me busy for awhile.

UPDATE: Here’s another one in limbo that I’d hustle down to Bloomington’s Book Corner for: Bob Porter’s soul-jazz volume.

David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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