Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest

Overview

It is the summer of 1976 and Salvo Ursari, a man of retirement age, is walking on a taut wire strung between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center, almost fourteen hundred feet above the city. Far below him in the gaping crowd stands his wife, Anna, to whom he has made a solemn promise: This wire walk will end his career. In this daring moment, Steven Galloway opens his riveting novel about Salvo Ursari, whose life begins in 1919 amid a Transylvanian boyhood inhabited by gypsy folklore and inspired by ...

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Overview

It is the summer of 1976 and Salvo Ursari, a man of retirement age, is walking on a taut wire strung between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center, almost fourteen hundred feet above the city. Far below him in the gaping crowd stands his wife, Anna, to whom he has made a solemn promise: This wire walk will end his career. In this daring moment, Steven Galloway opens his riveting novel about Salvo Ursari, whose life begins in 1919 amid a Transylvanian boyhood inhabited by gypsy folklore and inspired by the bravery of his persecuted people. Salvo's story moves irresistibly from a tragic fire that envelops his family, to street life in Budapest, where he learns the skills of a wire walker, to the carnivals of Europe and the competitive world of the American circus. Most fulfilled when living with paradox, Salvo feels safest while performing startling feats of balance on a wire high above the dangerous world; and most endangered if performing above a net. With compassion, warmth, and blazing originality, Ascension combines jaw-dropping storytelling, and fantastical symbolism with mesmerizing detail of Romany and circus culture, and an unforgettable walk with the amazing Salvo Ursari.

Tenor saxophone player Coltrane was a pioneer of free-form jazz, a forerunner of today's world music, and one of the first artists to reflect society's tribulations through his art form--a true original. Nisenson explores the shadow Coltrane cast in this must-read for music fans. Selected discography.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Saxophonist Coltrane was one of the most influential and widely imitated jazz musicians. Nisenson 'Round About Midnight: A Portrait of Miles Davis , Dial Pr., 1983 places his subject's often difficult music in the artistic and social context of the 1960s, arguing that Coltrane wanted to reach and inspire, not alienate. While praising Coltrane for not staying with any style for long, Nisenson admits that he grew so involved in his music that he left many listeners bewildered. He points to the recording Ascension as an ``audacious failure.'' Nisenson reviews the literature of Coltrane criticisms and helps newcomers by describing representative recordings from Coltrane's early, middle, and late periods. This responsible contribution to the Coltrane literature is recommended for large and small collections.-- Paul Baker, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306806445
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Edition description: 1st Da Capo Press ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 298
  • Sales rank: 1,201,175
  • Product dimensions: 5.01 (w) x 8.17 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Nisenson is the author of several jazz books, including The Making of Kind of Blue. He lives in Malden, Massachusetts.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Best Coltrane Bio

    I've read each every Coltrane biography I can find, and this one stands out from the rest. Not only does the author give an unbiased and thorough telling of Coltrane's life, influences, style, and impact, but he writes in an engaging and interesting style that is joy to read. But most importantly, he doesn't try to tell us what Coltrane "meant" by his music, which is such a common trait for his bios. He just lets Coltrane's music speak for itself.

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