Life in the
A Life in the Golden Age of Jazz presents the fascinating story of one of the "senior statesmen" of jazz, the late Buddy DeFranco, who was generally regarded as the greatest jazz clarinetist of all time.
Buddy was born in 1923 and died in December of 2014. He therefore lived through almost the entire history of jazz. Buddy began playing professionally in 1935, at the age of only 12, helping his blind father support a poor family in South Philadelphia. He began a career "on the road" at the age of only 16, playing in many of the big bands which became the hallmarks of the Swing Era: Gene Krupa, Charlie Bamet, Tommy Dorsey and Boyd Raebum. He participated in the origins of the Bebop Revolution in New York in the 1940s, making significant contributions to the harmonic concepts of that movement while playing with Charlie Parker, Lennie Tristano, Dizzy Gillespie and all the great protagonists of that "hot house" period in American music. He was featured with the legendary Count Basie Septet in 1950 and then led his own big band in 1951. From 1952 to 1956, Buddy led his own Quartet, one of the greatest small groups in the history of jazz, which included, at various times, Kenny Drew and Sonny Clark on piano. Milt Hinton and Eugene Wright on bass and Art Blakey and Bobby White on drums.
Buddy's long association with Norman Granz led to a prolific recording schedule throughout the 1950s, and extensive international touring with the fabled "Jazz at the Philharmonic" troupe, playing with such stars as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Oscar Peterson, Flip Phillips, Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich.
Jazz came upon hard times in the 1960s, but Buddy successfully changed gears to become a studio musician in Hollywood and then spent a grueling eight years as the director of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, performing at more than 2,400 one-night stands from 1966 to 1974!
As jazz began its modem renaissance in the 1970s, Buddy resumed his career as a soloist and leader of small ensembles. He quickly reclaimed his stature as the world's leading jazz clarinetist and introduced his artistry to a new generation of fans. A successful partnership with vibraphonist Terry Gibbs began in 1980, catapulting Buddy back to the forefront of jazz. He was one of the timeless masters of jazz and enjoyed a truly international career.
Buddy's story is, in a very real sense, the story of jazz in America. But the most perceptive observers of American phenomena often come from other countries in this case from France. Fabrice Zammarchi and Sylvie Mas are a young husband and wife team from Paris who share a love of jazz and a passion for the music of Buddy DeFranco. Fabrice is also the author of Sidney Bechet: Passport to Paradise, a biographical portrait of Bechet published in 1989. Fabrice is a professional jazz clarinetist, and therefore speaks with great authority about the merits of Buddy's artistry. After meeting Buddy and his wife Joyce during a European tour in 1991, Fabrice and Sylvie became close friends with the DeFrancos and conducted extensive interviews with Buddy over a decade. Those interviews and the authors' extensive research have been blended with a splendid collection of historic photographs to tell Buddy's complete story.
This is a book for all jazz fans because it successfully explores the breadth of Buddy's life in jazz. The extensive interviews with Buddy are filled with his personal anecdotes, relating his memorable experiences with the hundreds of musicians he has lived and played with over the years. Buddy revealed that he was a "walking encyclopedia" of jazz history, having played with practically all of the great stars of jazz over the last 79 years!
Buddy's journey through the ups and downs of jazz and his stature as a "musicians' musician" gave him a remarkable perspective from which to comment on the status of American popular music. And comment he did! Buddy made a very convincing case for his conclusion that "American popular music is in a state of total putrefaction." His cure: convince the public to appreciate music which demands musicianship, responsibility and professionalism from those who perform it.
Musicians will also appreciate Buddy's comments on the role of the clarinet in jazz and the special difficulties that befell clarinetists who tried to play in the bebop idiom. Buddy's dazzling command of his difficult instrument is illustrated by six transcribed solos which are reproduced in the book, from different periods in his career, which show the development of his style.
A Life in the Golden Age of Jazz has been produced to very high "art quality" standards, in a large 10 by 11 inch (25.4 by 28 cm) format, with 384 pages and 324 photographs taken throughout Buddy's career. The photos come from dozens of sources, including the DeFranco family's own collection, from Buddy's friends and fellow musicians and from many of the famous professional photographers and archivists who have made "jazz photography" their specialty, including Herman Leonard, Frank Driggs, William Claxton, William Gottlieb, Ray Avery, Popsie Randolph, Lee Tanner, Phil Stem, and many others. At least 75% of these photos have never been previously published. All of the photographs have been digitally restored and are reproduced using the rich duotone process. The book is printed on heavy matte paper and all of the photos are spot-varnished to provide added depth and detail.
The book includes a complete discography and filmography (36 pages) and an index. The endpapers include full-color reproductions of all of the album covers from Buddy's recordings from 1949 to the present.
A Life in the Golden Age of Jazz is produced in two versions: a Collector's Edition and a Regular Edition.
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