Gene Lees, author of the highly acclaimed Singers and the Song, offers, in Meet Me at Jim and Andy's, another tightly integrated collection of essays about post-War American music. This time he focuses on major jazz instrumentalists and bandleaders.
Jim and Andy's, on 48th Street just west of Sixth Avenue, was one of four New York musicians' haunts in the 1960sthe others being Joe Harbor's Spotlight, Charlie's, and Junior's. "For almost every musician I knew," Lees writes, "[it was] a home-away-from-home, restaurant, watering hole, telephone answering service, informal savings (and loan) bank, and storage place for musical instruments."
In a vivid series of portraits, we meet its clientele, an unforgettable gallery of individualists who happen to have been major artistsamong them Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Art Farmer, Billy Taylor, Gerry Mulligan, and Paul Desmond. We share their laughter and meet their friends, such as the late actress Judy Holliday, their wives, even their children (as in the tragic story of Frank Rosolino). We learn about their loves, loyalties, infidelities, and struggles with fame and, sometimes alcohol and drug addiction. The magnificent pianist Bill Evans, describing to Lees his heroin addiction, says, "It's like death and transfiguration. Every day you wake in pain like death, and then you go out and score, and that is transfiguration. Each day becomes all of life in microcosm."
Himself a noted songwriter, Lees writes about these musicians with vividness and intimacy. Far from being the inarticulate jazz musicians of legend, they turn out to be eloquent indeed, and the inventors of a colorful slang that has passed into the American language.
And of course there was the music. A perceptive critic with enormous respect for the music he writes about, Lees notes the importance and special appeal of each artist's work, as in this comment about Artie Shaw's clarinet: "A fish, it has been said, is unaware of water, and Shaw's music so permeated the very air that it was only too easy to overlook just how good a player and how inventive and significant an improviser he was."
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|Product dimensions:||5.88(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.08(d)|
About the Author
About the Author:
Gene Lees, author of Singers and the Song and editor and publisher of the respected Jazzletter, has written extensively for publications such as Down Beat and Stereo Review, of which he is a former editor. He is also a lyricist whose songs include Quiet Nights on Quiet Stars and Someone to Light Up My Life, and Yesterday I Heard the Rain.