Does anything really need to be said about this book other than the title? It’s the great jazz magazine DownBeat, and interviews of – well, everyone! Established in 1934 in Chicago, DownBeat came to be called the “Bible of Jazz.” This collection of interview is in honor of the magazine’s 75th anniversary (2009) and contains a huge collection of photographs (black and white and a few color), some good articles, and mostly, as the title says, interviews of jazz greats from the 1930s on arranged in chronological order. It’s downright dizzying. Maybe it’s best just to say who’s here. From the 1930s: W.C. Handy, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie. From the ‘40s: Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday, T-Bone Walker, Stan Kenton, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker.
Great interviews of great jazz musicians from the ‘30s into the 21st century
From the ‘50s and into the ‘60s: Chet Baker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Roy Eldridge, to Joe Williams, Ornette Coleman, Paul Desmond, Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald, Muddy Waters. Moving into the ‘70s we have Stevie Wonder, Charles Mingus, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa. And on and on. And that’s just a partial list, the ones that caught my attention first glance. Oh, yeah, also we have Cecil Taylor, James Brown, Dave Brubeck, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell – just a random sampler. (Strictly speaking some of those might not be considered jazz artists but I didn’t complain and you won’t either I think.) This is a wonderful collection of material that belongs in any serious music lover’s library. It’s history in a single volume, arranged so you can read and almost hear (put some appropriate music on and you’ll hear it, too) the way American jazz music evolved over the decades. A celebration of seventy-five years of one of the best jazz publications to hit the stacks, and along with it seventy-five years of talent, quirky sounds, and sheer brilliance.