Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC

Overview

Scott was a child prodigy, born in Trinidad and raised in Harlem in the 1920s, and her musical talent was cultivated by her musician mother as well as several great jazz luminaries of the period, including Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, and Lester Young. Career success was swift for the young pianist: she auditioned at the prestigious Juilliard School when she was only eight years old, hosted her own radio show, and shared the bill at the Roseland Ballroom with the Count Basie Orchestra at fifteen. After...

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Overview

Scott was a child prodigy, born in Trinidad and raised in Harlem in the 1920s, and her musical talent was cultivated by her musician mother as well as several great jazz luminaries of the period, including Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, and Lester Young. Career success was swift for the young pianist: she auditioned at the prestigious Juilliard School when she was only eight years old, hosted her own radio show, and shared the bill at the Roseland Ballroom with the Count Basie Orchestra at fifteen. After Scott made several standout performances on Broadway, it was the opening of New York's first integrated nightclub, Café Society, that made her a star. She would later become one of the first black women to host her own television show.

During the 1940s and '50s, Scott's sexy and vivacious presence captivated fans worldwide, while her marriage to the controversial black congressman from Harlem, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., kept her constantly in the headlines. Her relentless activism on behalf of African Americans, women, and artists made her the target of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy era, eventually forcing her to join the black expatriate community in Paris. Though she was once one of the most sought-after talents in show business, Scott would return to America, after years of living abroad, to a music world that no longer valued what she had to offer. In this first biography of an important but overlooked African American pianist, singer, actor, and activist, Hazel Scott's contributions are finally recognized.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[A] compact and engaging book . . . succinct and lucid. . . . Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to this fine biography is that during the first 150 pages the reader is wondering why Scott isn’t better known, at least in the jazz world. But by the story’s end . . . the same reader knows exactly why, but is still likely to be singing her praises as a true trailblazer in African-American culture.”
JazzTimes

"A well-researched biography on an unnecessarily forgotten star."
New York City Jazz Record

JazzTimes
"[A] compact and engaging book . . . succinct and lucid. . . . Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to this fine biography is that during the first 150 pages the reader is wondering why Scott isn’t better known, at least in the jazz world. But by the story's end . . . the same reader knows exactly why, but is still likely to be singing her praises as a true trailblazer in African-American culture."
JazzTimes
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472034475
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 7/8/2010
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,166,719
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Intro xiii

Chapter 1 That Marvel of Marvels 1

Chapter 2 A World Away 9

Chapter 3 Paraphrasing Rachmaninoff 18

Chapter 4 Women's Work 25

Chapter 5 Crescendo 35

Chapter 6 Hazel's Boogie-Woogie 49

Chapter 7 Seeing Stars 72

Chapter 8 Adam 90

Intermezzo 97

Chapter 9 Fervor & the Fury 101

Chapter 10 The Powells 110

Chapter 11 Black and Red 137

Chapter 12 Notes of Discord 151

Chapter 13 La Paix de Paris? 173

Chapter 14 Saint Mary Lou 190

Chapter 15 Rondo 203

Chapter 16 Reverie 215

Acknowledgments 229

Notes 233

Selected Discography and Filmography 253

Bibliography 259

Index 263

Illustrations 96

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