Growing Up with Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk about Their Lives and Careers

Growing Up with Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk about Their Lives and Careers

Growing Up with Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk about Their Lives and Careers

Growing Up with Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk about Their Lives and Careers

Synopsis

A jazz writer for three decades, W. Royal Stokes has a special talent for capturing the initial spark that launches a musician's career. InGrowing Up With Jazz, he has interviewed twenty-four instrumentalists and singers who talk candidly about the early influences that started them on the road to jazz and where that road has taken them.
Stokes offers a kaleidoscopic look at the jazz scene, featuring musicians from a dazzling array of backgrounds. Ray Gelato recalls the life of a working class youth in London, Patrizia Scascitelli recounts being a child prodigy in Rome who became the first woman of Italian jazz, and Billy Taylor tells about his childhood in Washington, DC, where his grandfather was a Baptist minister and his father a dentist--and everyone in the family seemed well trained in music. Perhaps most exotic is Luluk Purwanto, an Indonesian violinist who as a child listened to gamelan music in the morning and took violin lessons in the afternoon (on an instrument so expensive she didn't dare quit). For some, the flame burned bright at an early age. Jane Monheit sang before she could speak and was set on a musical career by age eight. Lisa Sokolov played classical piano, sang opera and choral music, and was in a jazz band--all by high school. But Carol Sudhalter, though born into a very musical family ("a Bix Beiderbecke family"), was a botany major at Smith, and only became a serious musician after college, quitting a government job to study the flute and saxophone in Italy.
From Art Blakey to Claire Daly to Don Byron, here are the compelling stories of two dozen top musicians finding their way in the world of jazz.

Excerpt

It no doubt is because of my background and training that I have always taken such an interest in the life and career histories of jazz artists. This interest has been reflected in my journalism and books since I left the academic life thirty-five years ago after a decade of teaching at four universities in the United States and Canada and, for two years, in a study-abroad program in Naples, Italy. I was a history major as an undergraduate at the University of Washington in the 1950s, also earning there an M.A. in classics. I was granted a 1965 Ph.D. in classics by Yale University and served as a professor of Greek and Latin languages and literature and ancient history for the decade of the 1960s at the Universities of Pittsburgh and Colorado, Tufts University, and Canada's Brock University.

While now nothing more than a dilettante in my former field of endeavor, I continue to take an interest in things classical and still read Greek and Latin poetry and prose for pleasure. The enormous burden of keeping up with the jazz literature, both in book and periodical form, precludes deeper involvement in the cultures and societies of those two great ancient civilizations, Greece and Rome. But my nearly two-decade-long immersion in them, about equally divided between scholastic preparation and professorial application thereof, has left its mark.

My conversion to the profession of jazz writer and, for fifteen years (1972–87), host of my two weekly jazz programs on public radio has sometimes elicited reactions of puzzlement, even astonishment, but I

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