You Can't Steal a Gift Dizzy, Clark, Milt, and Nat Gene Lees, Nat Hentoff
- Price: £19.95
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- Publication date:
- 14 Nov 2001
- 320 pages: 210 x 140 x 19mm
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 which 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 of the four are men who had every reason to embrace bitterness - and didn't."
Gene Lees is the publisher of the Jazzletter. He is also a song lyricist and the author of more than a dozen volumes of jazz history and criticism, including the highly acclaimed Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White.
"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 "A writer like Gene Lees, who has the trust of the musicians he writes about, can lead listeners to the musicians' experiences that are at the continuing core of their music... He can lead listeners to want to know more about the music because they become so intrigued by the lives of the players." Nat Hentoff, from the Foreword