Saturday, November 27, 2010


Giants of Jazz, Studs Terkel, Thomas Y Crowell Company, 1957, 189 pp

 Jazz was one of the main musical genres of the 1950s: swing, big band, bop and cool. Studs Terkel started out in radio and got his own show in 1944, playing all styles of music. In 1952, he landed on television with a show called Stud's Place. From there on he developed an interviewing style which he put into a long series of books about various periods of 20th century America. Giants of Jazz was his first book.

  He covers thirteen jazz artists from Louis Armstrong to Billie Holiday to Charlie Parker. Each artist has a chapter combining a life story with quotes from Terkel's interviews. He concentrates on their innovations and achievements; how they overcame race, poverty and changing styles. A musician's hardships are touched on but personal troubles and substance abuse are downplayed.

 The book is a celebration of music and the development of jazz into a unique American music. Studs Terkel revels in the joy and creativity these artists brought to audiences everywhere they went. It is both an educational and uplifting read.

(Giants of Jazz is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. Sounds like Mike has a new Christmas present for his dad.