Three Wishes : An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats

Article excerpt

Three Wishes : An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats by Pannonica de Koenigswarter (compiled/photographed) New York: Abrams Image: 2008; 317pp, $19.95

This is the strangest book on jazz I've ever read, the most moving book on jazz I've ever read, and everything in between. With a forward from Gary Giddins and an introduction from granddaughter Nadine de Koenigswarter, this is apparently an ongoing project that 'Nica' worked on for decades, from 1961. She would ask any and all musicians she would meet for their three pet wishes: That is the main text of this book. Gary's forward is short and sets the scene - Nadine's introduction tells some of her grandmother's life from being a Rothschild in London to being the 'Jazz Baroness' of New York City.

In addition to the three answers, there are masses of candid photos, many from one-of-a-kind Polaroid snapshots (that are NOT Photoshopped!), that she (in the main) took herself, either at gigs or at her home (purchased on the recommendation of one T. Monk!) in Weehawken in northern NJ after being harassed at various NYC hotels back when one of means rented a suite on long-term lease as a home. It is truly an intimate look at jazz musicians, some serious, some silly, but all of-the-moment... just like the music they play. There are famous names galore (post her Bird experiences), plus people even Gary has never heard of before, the might-have-beens or never-weres of the jazz life!

As Giddins poses: "But who were Sonny Nevious, Lynn Holiday, Paul Wheaton, Claude Purvis, Hyler Jones, and Tasuhiro Koyama?" - instruments unknown. A musician's index is present at the end of the book that lists instrument(s)... when known..., a useful tool for the text. None for the photos.

The Baroness (1913 - 1988) was trusted by most jazz musicians (generally black), who were relaxed in her simpatico, patrician company in ways that should have been unexpected given the then-current racial climate. …