Jazz drummer and composer Porter tells the story of his life, from his childhood in Colorado to his involvement with the jazz and bebop scene on the West Coast in the 1940s and '50s, his imprisonment for drug possession, and the deterioration of his career due to drug and alcohol addiction and a major stroke. Chronicling his achievements as a musician, band leader and composer, he concludes with an assessment of the way in which black musicians have been exploited. Unfortunately, he and Keller, who runs a Los Angeles jazz management business, have so overloaded their account with the names of all the famous musicians Porter has ever known that readers soon lose interest. The final section is devoted to reminiscences of Porter by many of his colleagues. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Jazz drummer Porter's career ranged from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s. He is probably best known for classic recordings made in 1946 with saxophonist Charlie Parker (originally released as 78's and now available on compact disc). In this autobiography, Porter reminisces about his years as part of the jazz/bebop scene. He credits drugs, alcohol, and two years in prison for sidetracking his career. These elements form an important focus of his mature years, contrasting heavily with an innocent youth spent in Depression-era Colorado Springs and at all-black Wiley College. Porter played many clubs with many different musicians over the years, and the long list of people and places he discusses will appeal only to readers familiar with the music. Slang is not always clear, and the excessive profanity becomes tiresome. Appropriate for comprehensive jazz collections.-- James E. Ross, Seattle P.L.
Porter chronicles his life and musical career from his childhood in Colorado Springs to his days as a big band drummer and later as a composer. His autobiography casts new light on the post World War II jazz scene on the West Coast and provides insight into the musical styles and personalities of the many well known musicians with whom he worked. His story is also fraught with racism, discrimination, poverty, and drug addiction. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)