Monday, November 16, 2009

The Downbeat 75th Anniversary Anthology

Downbeat: The Great Jazz Interviews: A 75th Anniversary Anthology. Edited and Compiled By Frank Alkyer. In July of 1934 the first issue of DownBeat magazine hit newsstands in Chicago. For the next seven-plus decades and counting the publication has been synonymous with jazz. DownBeat has chronicled every facet of jazz; every trend; every new and emerging sound. They have charted the birth and rise of hot jazz, cool jazz, be bop, hard bop, post bop, free jazz, and sounds that go even further out. Along the way the magazine has featured interviews with virtually every jazz great. DownBeat magazine, much of it written by the artists themselves, has dictated the tone and tenor of all serious conversation about jazz music.

In celebration of the magazine's 75th anniversary, publisher Frank Alkyer, with the assistance of the magazines editors past and present, has combed through the DownBeat archives and assembled a compendium of the magazines most celebrated, historical, and groundbreaking features and interviews. In addition to these interviews, many of them tucked away and never printed again since their first publication, the book includes a myriad of classic photos and covers including many shots that have remained unseen since their original publication. Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Lester Young, and Billie Holiday appear alongside conversations with Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Carlos Santana, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Brian Eno, Captain Beefheart, and dozens more.

At times this collection reads less like a book and more like a conversation about jazz among the artists themselves. Features penned by Cannonball Adderley, Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Benny Goodman, Wayne Shorter, and, of course, the notorious article by Jelly Roll Morton in which he confronts W.C. Handy head-on about who actually invented jazz sit side by side with pieces by noted scribes such as Studs Terkel, Nat Hentoff, Ira Gitler, Leonard Feather, and more.

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