Read Four Lives in the Bebop Business by A.B. Spellman Online


This book offers biographical sketches and quotations from four black musicians: Herbie Nichols, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and Jackie McLean. Photographs. A group of resourceful kids start "," a website where "cybervisitors" can get answers to questions that trouble them. But when one questioner asks the true meaning of Christmas, the kids seek toThis book offers biographical sketches and quotations from four black musicians: Herbie Nichols, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and Jackie McLean. Photographs. A group of resourceful kids start "," a website where "cybervisitors" can get answers to questions that trouble them. But when one questioner asks the true meaning of Christmas, the kids seek to unravel the mystery by journeying back through the prophecies of the Old Testament. What they find is a series of "S" words that reveal a "spectacular story " With creative characters, humorous dialogue and great music, The "S" Files is a children's Christmas musical your kids will love performing....

Title : Four Lives in the Bebop Business
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780879100421
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Four Lives in the Bebop Business Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-06-12 10:49

    Published in 1966, this book shows us how the lives and artistic fates of four influential musicians were affected by the atmosphere, business practices and prejudices of the jazz world during the late '40's and '50's: 1) the uncompromising classically-trained composer Cecil Taylor, 2) the innovative romantic artist Ornette Coleman, 3) the professional stalwart turned innovator, Jackie Taylor, and 4) Herbie Nichols.A.B. Spellman is an able historian and interviewer who knows his subjects well, having worked as a jazz critic for Downbeat and Metronome and a writer of liner notes for the Blue Note label. (He subsequently taught African-American Studies—including three years at Harvard—and ended his working life with thirty years of service at the National Endowment for the Arts.)Of the four performers Spellman covers in his book, pianist Cecil Taylor is perhaps the least sympathetic. He rails at the philistine “gangsters” that own the New York jazz clubs (true, many of them literally were mobsters) and their poorly maintained and execrably tuned pianos. But Taylor, a dissonant, percussive pianist, frequently bangs the keys so hard that he sends them flying rith off the piano, and thus is deserves some of the blame for the wear-and-tear himself. What he laments most, however, was his failure to get the regular, short gigs that more conventional players are regularly given, for they are precisely what an experimental jazz band leader requires: time for his musicians to become comfortable with his difficult, demanding pieces. But Taylor never makes it easy for the owners, for, not only is his music often harsh and unmelodic, but his sets—which club owners plead with him to shorten—can be as much as two hours in length, sometimes consisting of a single tune. Yet Taylor refuses to compromise. Adversity makes him strong.By contrast, the most attractive and poignant musician here is saxophonist Ornette Coleman. He is as uncompromising as Taylor, but somehow his single-mindedness seems inevitable, inseparable from the artist’s vision. His progress too is more difficult, for two reasons: 1) he was born in raised in the jazz backwater of Texas, where the only sound the people cry for is the honk of the r & b sax, and 2) his “free jazz” vision at first seemed an insult to bebop, for it rejected the formal chord progression and fixed tempo in favor of melodic improvisation built on the spontaneous accents of the bass and drums. As a consequence, Ornette Coleman, in addition to being infrequently hired, was sometimes also beaten up by patrons and hassled by fellow musicians. But he persevered and moved out to California, where he discovered collaborators and disciples and a took his difficult—but no longer discouraging—path to greatness. Jackie McLean played the saxophone from his high school years, and he grew up in New York City surrounded by bebop greats, having opportunity to learn from both Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. His career was hampered by an arrest for heroin addiction, for his loss of a “cabaret card” prevented him from playing music in any club in New York. But he honed his skills through many recording dates, and, through his collaborations with Charlie Mingus, grew in range and ambition until he became an inventive modernist himself, responsible for the innovative Let Freedom Ring.And then there is Herbie Nichols. I decided to read this book because of Nichols, for he is--with the exception of Ellington--I my all-time favorite jazz pianist/composer, author of compositions as quirky and memorable as Monk’s, but somehow—at least to this fan’s ear—more rhythmic, much closer to the heart of bebop. (His most popular piece is “Lady Sings the Blues.” You may have heard of it.) But in spite of his genius as a composer and his considerable skill as a player, he could never seem to convince either club owners or musicians that he could be an effective leader. Since he refused to compromise his own personal music, he played any old music he didn’t care about instead, in smarmy strip clubs and dixieland joints filled with with drunken frat boys. He contracted leukemia and passed away at the age of 44. When I saw him last, in his sister’s apartment in a low-income district in the Bronx, he seemed to be dying of disillusionment. He knew his worth, but it seemed nobody else did, at least nobody that could improve his condition...It was typical of Herbie Nichol’s life that Metronome, the magazine for which I was preparing the first article ever written on him, folded before the article could be published. By the time I placed it elsewhere, Herbie had died.

  • Morris Nelms
    2019-06-10 10:26

    For a jazz fan, a must. For anyone else, some fascinating insights into jazz musicians. The book is uneven in a sense, because some of the musicians are more 'uneven' than the others. Of course Cecil Taylor has a hard time selling his music.

  • Tuck
    2019-06-01 14:45

    very good inside look at jazz from the perspective of 4 little known and generally unappreciated musicians: Herbie Nichols, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and Jackie McLean. man these dudes did NOT have an easy time of it and were really pushed down and aside most of the time. Author spellman i thought was not very good at setting these stories up though, too academic maybe? i've been told this is a great great jazz music book, but really i liked this book talking about kind of blueThe Making of Kind of Blue: Miles Davis and His Masterpieceand this bio of davis and this bio of coltraneColtrane: The Story of a SoundSo What: The Life of Miles Davisand this almost unbelievable and just incredible story and story behind the story of art pepperSo What: The Life of Miles Davisif you are into jazz though, "bebop business" is a must for your's art pepper's, it didn't paste before Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper

  • Andrew
    2019-05-31 15:39

    Insane that it took me this long to get to reading this book. The version I read was called "Black Music, four lives" which is a terrible title compared to this original. In any case, I loved how passionate and vocal Spellman was about calling injustices out- that kind of stuff is so fucking tempered these days taht music writing is almost inflammatorily boring. I'm gonna pick up the revised edition from the library later this week and see what the differences are, but I hope he hasn't edited it too much: the rage (Spellman's, Taylor's, etc.) is palpable and it makes a great portrait of what the jazz life was like at the time for the advanced musicians. Even if the stories of these four particular musicians wasn't of extreme interest to me, Spellman has some very perceptive things to say about the "polarization of interests that charceterize this era of overcommunication." He wrote that in 1966 yo, and it's so much more relevant (unfirtunately so) to our contemporary world. A great book. Two of my favorite quotes from it:Cecil: I can’t get grants, but if you’re a black pianist who wants to play Beethoven – oh sure! There’s a grant for that! It’s that fucked-up liberal idea of uplifting the black man by destroying his culture."McLean: “I think that some people SHOULD be junkies.”

  • dimwig
    2019-06-03 16:48

    somehow i've lost my copy which is a damn shame cuz this book is gold. just noticed that spellman wrote an obituary for ornette in the wire (aug 2015). still a brilliant writer. don't think i've read anything really that captures jazz so well. not romantic -- critical close-listening culminating in deserved immersion.

  • Charles
    2019-05-25 18:28

    The unvarnished truth of life in the music business.

  • Paul Secor
    2019-06-12 10:37

    What book is written about in the description below this book's title?Certainly not Four Lives in the Bebop Business.

  • Chris
    2019-05-20 10:39

    Way the fuck seminal. Not about bebop - this is a first glimpse into what would become the free jazz era. Ugly-ass cover on that new version, though.