School Library Journal
With Brooks (coauthor of Shirley Verrett's autobiography, I Never Walked Alone), Evans here recounts his career as alto saxophonist for many of the most important African American musicians of the jazz, swing, and rhythm and blues eras of the early to mid-20th century. Active between 1939 and 1965, Evans played for such performers as Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, and Cab Calloway, and he recounts his performances and travels from Pensacola, FL, where he learned to play, to later tours with Lionel Hampton in Paris and Tel Aviv. Telling his story, Evans draws the reader into the lives, venues, destinations, and experiences of this musical time period. He also describes his role as a music executive and entrepreneur after his performing career under Ray Charles's Tangerine label. Including many rare and historical photographs and forewords by Tavis Smiley and Bill McFarlin (executive director, International Association of Jazz Educators), this is appropriate for any public or academic library.
Bradford Lee Eden
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From the Publisher
“For every Armstrong or Ellington or Charlie Parker, there were countless musicians, their names unknown even to jazz fans, whose skill gave jazz the solid foundation it needed. In Follow Your Heart, jazz journeyman Joe Evans, now in his 90s, presents the story of the sideman, the unsung hero of the golden age of jazz, someone who could read music, learn new tunes quickly, take solos if necessary and swing all the time. . . . Thank you, Mr. Evans, not just for the music you made, but for the man you are.”The Washington Times
"Saxophonist Joe Evans' uncanny memory of his six-plus decades working alongside the legends and lesser-known heroes of jazz and R&B would be enough to make Follow Your Heart essential reading for serious students of American popular music. But this book does more than collect personal tales from an earlier cultural era. Evans crafts a funny, heartbreaking, and insightful account of living through the violence of Jim Crow segregation, shady business dealings, and the hazards of life on the road."Aaron Cohen, Associate Editor, DownBeat
"One of the best autobiographies that I have read in many years. Cleverly constructed and extremely well written, this phenomenal book gives a unique perspective into American music history through the challenges, trials, and accomplishments of one of the most underappreciated giants of the American music scene."Emmett G. Price III, author of Hip Hop Culture
"A personal, first-hand account of the many luminaries of black music whom Evans encountered during his lifetime. Through its thick, invaluable descriptions of jazz culture, Follow Your Heart is loaded with important occurrences in the development of African American musicnamely jazz and rhythm and bluesfrom the 1920s throughout the 1970s."Cheryl L. Keyes, author of Rap Music and Street Consciousness