Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New Orleans - Playing a Jazz Chorus, book review

New Orleans
Playing a Jazz Chorus, was written by noted jazz and blues writer Samuel Charters, and published by Marion Boyars in 2006.

Mr. Charters lived in New Orleans in the 50s and at that time knew, interviewed and played with some of the old school jazz greats. He later moved on, but his son and daughter-in-law still live in the city, and several months after Katrina, Mr. Charters returned to New Orleans to see what remained and what was gone, and to look for a seed of rebirth in the Big Easy.

New Orleans - Playing a Jazz Chorus starts with a set of considerations, really quotes about the disaster. Ben Glover, from the band Bipolaroid, is quoted from Anti-Gravity: "I had my tarot cards read by my ex-girlfriend the day before I evacuated. They said I was fucked. Right after the reading, I went outside and found a squirrel devouring a lizard, head first. I knew at that exact moment I had witnessed an omen and the city was fucked. I had never left for a hurricane before."

Clarinet great Pete Fountain said, "I have two of my best clarinets. I can still toot."

Michael Brown, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, testifying before Congress: "It's my belief that had there been a report come out from Marty Bahamonde that said, yes we've confirmed that a terrorist has blown up the 17th Street levee, then everybody would have jumped all over that and been trying to do everything they could, but because this was a natural disaster, that has become a stepchild within the Department of Homeland Security..."

This book is a personal and powerful portrait of New Orleans today, struggling with the devastation of the hurricane, struggling to rebuild and revitalize the city. He finds terrible damage but also some reason for hope. He discovers a young brass band scene and some hot new jazz and a drummer named Johnny Vidacovich.

If you love jazz or if you love New Orleans, read this book.

On the 5 anchovy rating scale, mister anchovy says: 4.5 salties, baby


Gardenia said...

I plan to buy this and read it. I have my own CD I made from downloaded songs - a tribute to N.O. I think it will never be the same again - maybe this book will make me feel better.

Homeland security - working in government close to the State level - well, I have stories that would scare ya, but would probably put me on another government favorite snoop download spree...so I'll leave that be...

Anonymous said...

It's time I recommended the email from NOLA blog. Start by reading his archives, they begin prior to Katrina (I've read all of his posts twice). The man can write, and some of his stories will break your heart.

Candy Minx said...

I just got a phone call from the bookstore and this book has arrived...I should get to it, or Stagg will, later next week. Once in N.O. I sat behind Pete Fountain at a dinner concert.

mister anchovy said...

thanks LM, I'll check it out. Candy, I think Pete Fountain would be such an interesting character to meet - he's a link to so much tradition.