Wednesday, June 1, 2011
"Jazz Notes" by Sanford Josephson
This is by no means a seminal contribution to the history of jazz. It is rather an informal, anecdotal, entertaining series of light interviews. It covers artists that may not get a lot of attention these days, such as Joe Venuti, Jonah Jones, Arvell Shaw, and Helen Humes, and surely that is a good thing.
My only serious beef with the book is occasionally the follow-up interviewees seem more concerned with talking about themselves and what they are doing rather than sticking to the artist who is supposed to be the subject of the chapter.
But it is quite amusing and interesting to read candid comments from the participants. For example one reads that Benny Goodman was motivated as much as anything to a return to performing by the fact that others were being applauded in Goodman tribute shows and not Benny himself.
The book also has a serious side. There is some attention to the perils of being black and on the road in the Jim Crow days.
It is on the whole an entertaining read and that's what it is supposed to be.