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A swing note is, to the listener of the rhythm, an unexpected note, and it is the spark of life in jazz and its relatives. Whether playing the standards or the most experimental piece, it is how a musician handles these notes—fearlessly or safely—that determines the fate of the performance. Howard Reich’s critical writing is similarly unexpected and fearless, and Let Freedom Swing is a collection of the articles from the past three decades that best capture this spirit.
Each section of Let Freedom Swing composes a suite, focusing on either a person, place, or scene. Reich gives new life to the standards with his profiles and elegies for such giants as Gershwin, Ellington, and Sinatra. A profile of Louis Armstrong brings out the often angry side of Satchmo but also reveals a more remarkable musician and human being.
His open-mindedness makes Reich a particularly astute observer of the experimental and new, from Ornette Coleman to Chicago experimentalist Ken Vandermark. And his observations about street music open our ears to the songs of everyday life. Reich’s fearlessness is evident in his writing about daunting subjects, such as the New Orleans music scene after Katrina, the lost legacy of jazz in Panama, and the complicated legacy of "race music" in America.
Howard Reich combines a deep enthusiasm for music, a breadth of knowledge, and an ability to share his world with his readers, and Let Freedom Swing is essential reading for anyone interested in the continuing vitality of jazz, gospel, blues, and American music in general.
|Publisher:||Northwestern University Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Howard Reich has been a Chicago Tribune arts critic and writer since 1983. He is also a correspondent for DownBeat magazine. In addition to covering jazz, blues, gospel, and world music for the Tribune, he has authored several investigative reports that have been featured on ABC’s Nightline and various National Public Radio programs. He is the author of three books: The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich: A Son’s Memoir (2006); Jelly’s Blues: The Life, Music, and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton (2003), written with William Gaines; and Van Cliburn (1993). He most recently wrote, produced, and narrated a feature-length documentary film about his mother’s previously unspoken Holocaust childhood, Prisoner of Her Past. Reich graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Music.