jazz musicians

Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington

By John Edward Hasse

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No one led a band like Duke Ellington, no one led a life like Duke Ellington, and no one wrote music like Duke Ellington. One of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, Ellington was acclaimed in his lifetime as a bandleader, but this biography explores his skill as a composer and musical "problem-solver." The author also guides the reader through the bewildering array of Ellington recordings, selecting and commenting on the most essential ones from each period of Ellington's career.

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Jazz: A History of America's Music

By Geoffrey C. Ward

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This book, written with Ken Burns, accompanies the PBS TV series of the same name. It traces the evolution of jazz from its birth in New Orleans through big band, swing, bebop, fusion, acid, and avant-garde. Covered also are the well-known and the not-so-known musicians of jazz - black and white. The photographs that accompany the text are fascinating.

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The Seventh Child

By Freddie Mae Baxter

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"The seventh of eight children, Freddie Mae Baxter was born in 1923 in rural South Carolina. When her father left the family, her mother had to raise the children alone, and Freddie Mae went to work--first picking cotton, then cooking for the white families in town. At seventeen, she decided to go up North in search of new horizons and a better life. Now, in an astonishingly original voice, Freddie Mae shares with us the wisdom of her seventy-five years, and some vivid memories: from her childhood in the South ('Two cents was money in those days. . .') to her life in Harlem, where she played saxophone in an all-girl band ('We just jammed!') and danced at all the hot clubs ('Anyplace that there was music, you could find me'). Through the good times, bad times, and the enormous changes she's lived through, Freddie Mae has remained steadfastly optimistic and emotionally generous."

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Scatman: An Authorized Biography of Scatman Crothers

By Jim Haskins with Helen Crothers

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At the time of his death in 1986, Sherman "Scatman" Crothers had had many careers in entertainment--as a singer, songwriter, band leader, and television and film actor. In Scatman, the author of Mr. Bojangles tells the story of the man who owned "the shiniest mouth in town."

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Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald developed a love for music and singing while she was a young girl growing up in New York.  She and her mother Tempie used to dance around their apartment while Ella's younger sister Frances repeatedly put the needle back to the beginning of the record so that they could dance and sing the day away.  They had such a grand time that they forgot all about the washing and the ironing.  The book Skit Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Sean Qualls introduces us to the young Ella.  At thirteen, Ella and her friend Charlie were singing and dancing on Morgan Street outside the apartment building.  It was 1930 in Yonkers New York and people did not have much money.  But some folks were able to spare some change for Ella and Charlie.  They occasionally had a nickel or two tossed at them.

Charlie and Ella put their nickels together and they were able to take the Number 1 trolley to the end of the line.  From there they climbed aboard the subway train to 125th Street.  They were in Harlem.  Ella watched the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue.  When Ella and Charlie danced outside the theatre, people tossed them their loose change.  They were making more money than the shoeshine boys.  Ella knew that she was going to be famous and she told everyone so.