Posted in Music, Writing, tagged Blue Note, essays, Hank Mobley, Hard Bop, jazz, John Coltrane, literary nonfiction, mid-century jazz, Miles Davis, music, Sonny Clark on January 13, 2016|
My collection of jazz essays finally published, and I’m excited for you to read it. It’s an ebook called This Is and includes essays about the talent and tragedy of saxophonist Hank Mobley, the untold story of lost pianist Jutta Hipp, the creative influence of drugs and sobriety as seen through the film The Connection, the on-stage murder of trumpeter Lee Morgan, a close listen to Mile’s Davis’ song “So What” across ten years of its evolution, the scores of unreleased music in the Blue Note vault, as well as other stories of joy, genius and struggle. I designed the cover from William Gottlieb’s archival photographs, and Publishing Genius’ Adam Robinson generously did the layout.
You can buy it here, online.
Here’s what a few of my favorite writers said about it:
“The richness of the eight essays in Aaron Gilbreath’s This Is is a fitting tribute to the richness of jazz itself. Gilbreath weaves unique insight with a profound understanding of the history of jazz. His crisp prose and diverse range make you want to turn the page and run to the record store in equal measure.” -Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist
“Aaron Gilbreath’s writing about jazz is as friendly and welcoming as any you’ll find.” -Luc Sante, author of Low Life and Kill All Your Darlings
“Aaron Gilbreath writes about Jutta Hipp and Miles Davis and Lee Morgan and Jackie McLean and others long gone with curiosity: he lines up the questionable historical record with what’s knowable and provable, and finds out where the lessons are.” –New York Times jazz and pop critic Ben Ratliff, author of Coltrane: The Story of a Sound and The Jazz Ear: Conversations over Music
“Aaron Gilbreath is an outstanding jazz writer, with a deep appreciation for the music’s tradition and an engaging prose style.” -Ted Gioia, author of The History of Jazz and Delta Blues
“In these vivid, affectionate essays, Aaron Gilbreath moves in pure and distinct prose among stories and histories, moments and decades, mystery and clarity. His account of Jutta Hipp is one of the finest pieces I’ve read on the forgotten fringes of the music industry. This Is is an essential read for anyone who loves mid-century jazz culture and wonders about the dynamics of expression.” -Joe Bonomo author of Sweat: The Story of The Fleshtones, America’s Garage Band and Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found
I hope you dig the book!
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Posted in Music, Travel, tagged essays, Harper's Magazine, Haruki Murakami, Japan, jazz, jazz club, narrative nonfiction, Peter Cat, Portrait in Jazz, Sendagaya, Tokyo on February 10, 2014|
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Murakami at Book House You. © Tatsuya Mine
Before he became a novelist, Haruki Murakami was a jazz fan. He got into it when he was fifteen, after seeing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers perform in Kobe in January 1964.The lineup that night was of one of the most celebrated in the band’s three decades of existence, featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Wayne Shorter on sax, and Cedar Walton on piano. “I had never heard such amazing music,” Murakami later said. “I was hooked.” Ten years later, he postponed his university studies to open a jazz club in suburban Tokyo, naming it Peter Cat, after one of his pets. In 1977, he and his wife, Yoko, moved the club to Tokyo’s central Sendagaya neighborhood, where he wrote his first two novels, which led to later books whose titles referenced doo-wop like the Dells’ “Dance Dance Dance” and jazz tunes like Fuller’s “Five Spot After Dark.” The music equally influenced his writing style, which he sometimes conceived in terms of jazz rhythm, improvisation, and performance. Continue reading here…
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Posted in Music, tagged Blue Note, essays, Hammond B-3, jazz, Jimmy Smith, knowing obscure music makes you cool, movies, music, music writing, my obsessions, organ jazz, Rudy Van Gelder, The Threepenny Review on January 12, 2012|
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I’m working on another essay involving mid-century jazz and the Blue Note label — this one involving organist Jimmy Smith and record company vaults, for The Threepenny Review — so I wanted to toss out links to some interesting, related video clips. One is an interview with engineer Rudy Van Gelder, one of the most important people in modern music, period. Nearly every jazz session on Blue Note, he was in the room taping it, countless sessions for Verve and Prestige, too. When you hear the warmth and richness of Coltrane’s “Blue Train” and Hank Mobley’s “Soul Station,” it’s because of Rudy. When you hear every fine detail of a jazz drummer’s brushes, or every crystaline note on Kenny Burrell’s guitar — and when Jimmy Smith’s organ sounds neither overdriven or like a chirping circus tent nightmare — we have Rudy to thank. He is, without question, the Coltrane of the control room.
Clip from the Blue Note “Perfect Takes” DVD:
Then there’s this short oddity, about Blue Note in general. Shake what nature gave you:
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