It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play. -- Dizzie Gillespie

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You Can't Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt, and Nat By Gene Lees

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You Can’t Steal a Gift is about the impact of American racism on America’s greatest gift to the world of jazz music.

"The book is illuminating and memorable, with vivid, strongly personal profiles of Lees's four subjects." -- Terry Teachout, music critic for Commentary and contributor to Time magazine

In this wise, stimulating, and deeply personal book, an eminent jazz chronicler writes of his encounters with four great black musicians: Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Milt Hinton, and Nat "King" Cole. Equal parts memoir, oral history, and commentary, each of the main chapters is a minibiography, weaving together conversations Gene Lees had with the musicians and their families, friends, and associates over a period of several decades. Lees begins the book with an essay that tells of his introduction to the world of jazz and his reaction to racism in the United States when he emigrated from Canada in 1955. The underlying theme in his book is the impact racism had on the four musicians' lives and careers and their determination to overcome it. As Lees writes, "No white person can even begin to understand the black experience in the United States. . . .
All   are men who had every reason to embrace bitterness--and didn't."

 

Last modified on Sunday, 28 July 2013 10:06