Swingin' on Central Avenue: African American Jazz in Los Angeles (Hardback)
  • Swingin' on Central Avenue: African American Jazz in Los Angeles (Hardback)
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Swingin' on Central Avenue: African American Jazz in Los Angeles (Hardback)

(author)
£42.95
Hardback 374 Pages / Published: 17/09/2015
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The development of jazz and swing in the African-American community in Los Angeles in the years before the second World War received a boost from the arrival of a significant numbers of musicians from Chicago and the southwestern states. In Swingin' on Central: African-American Jazz in Los Angeles, a new study of that vibrant jazz community, music historian and jazz journalist Peter Vacher traveled between Los Angeles and London over several years in order to track down key figures and interview them for this oral history of one of the most swinging jazz scenes in the United States. Vacher recreates the energy and vibrancy of the Central Avenue scene through first-hand accounts from such West Coast notables as trumpeters Andy Blakeney , George Orendorff, and McLure "Red Mack" Morris; pianists Betty Hall Jones, Chester Lane, and Gideon Honore, saxophonists Chuck Thomas, Jack McVea, and Caughey Roberts Jr; drummers Jesse Sailes, Red Minor Robinson, and Nathaniel "Monk" McFay; and others. Throughout, readers learn the story behind the formative years of these musicians, most of whom have never been interviewed until now. While not exactly headliners-nor heavily recorded-this community of jazz musicians was among the most talented in pre-war America. Arriving in Los Angeles at a time when black Americans faced restrictions on where they could live and work, jazz artists of color commonly found themselves limited to the Central Avenue area. This scene, supplemented by road travel, constituted their daily bread as players-with none of them making it to New York. Through their own words, Vacher tells their story in Los Angeles, offering along the way a close look at the role the black musicians union played in their lives while also taking on jazz historiography's comparative neglect of these West Coast players. Music historians with a particular interest in pre-bop jazz in California will find much new material here as Vacher paints a world of luxurious white nightclubs with black bands, ghetto clubs and after-hours joints, a world within a world that resulted from the migration of black musicians to the West Coast.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780810888326
Number of pages: 374
Weight: 689 g
Dimensions: 233 x 162 x 33 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This book is one which, as soon as you've finished it, you want to go back to the beginning and start again, because the detail on the gigs that people played is extraordinary. . . .Absolutely fascinating. * BBC Radio 2 - Paul Jones *
The author has rescued a clutch of instrumentalists from obscurity. . . .Vacher has given us a valuable addition to the Central Avenue library, as rich in personal experience as it is broad in range. * DownBeat Magazine *
Swingin' On Central Avenue is a welcome addition to jazz history for dedicated West Coasters. * Jazz Journal *
Anyone who has read Vacher's other books . . . will already be familiar with his quiet erudition and respectful courtesy; Swingin' on Central Avenue is another fine addition to his oral-history oeuvre. * London Jazz News *
Our man Vacher has done it again . . . he has assembled another expertly-edited oral histories by less renowned musicians. * Jazzwise *
Swingin' on Central Avenue . . . present[s] a picture of an important jazz community. * Jazz Rag *
The book has a substantial photo section, a comprehensive bibliography, and a decent index. What's not to like? * VJM's Jazz and Blues Mart *
It is an irresistible book, and I speak as someone who finds many books - after decades of reading - utterly resistible. Peter Vacher . . . is one of those rare multi-talented writers. . . .Every jazz fancier I know would find something delightfully memorable in these pages. . . .The book is entertaining, powerful, and eye-opening. Peter Vacher has surpassed himself, and that is saying a great deal. * Jazz Lives *
This fascinating oral history project. . . .[is] a welcome study that goes first-person and behind-the-scenes of a vibrant, colorful jazz community. * Big City Rhythm & Blues *
Anyone interested in African-American music in California will find it a worthwhile addition to their shelves. * Blues & Rhythm *
The interviews with pianist Chester Lane, bassist Billy Hadnott and trombonist John 'Streamline' Ewing resulted in many surprising insights and fascinating details. * Doctor Jazz Magazine *
Peter Vacher's Swingin' on Central Avenue is a marvelous time capsule of a book that takes readers back to the days of taxi dances, barnstorming dance bands, and swank nightclubs with music and floor shows. . . .[T]he book's greatest value is the detailed portrait of the inner workings of the swing music scene in Los Angeles, and the vivid self portraits of the players, most of whom never made any more than regional reputations, who made it the thriving scene that it was. * ARSC Journal *
The work consists of interviews with sixteen black musicians born between 1898 and 1920 who worked in southern California from the 1920s through the 1980s. While all these players were elderly when interviewed each of them seemed to have retained remarkable memories. The stories are fascinating. . . .Most interesting to me are interviews with Billy Hadnott, Jesse Sailes and John 'Streamline' Ewing because they worked in a variety of settings under diverse leadership. . . .There are some wonderful photos here and a bibliography that will certainly lead you to more reading. Vacher has done this before...and this current volume makes me want to pursue the other works. Recommended. * The IAJRC Journal *
A wonderful collection of oral histories by Peter who interviewed 16 musicians who performed in the city's African American neighborhood. * Jazzwax *

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