Author and radio personality Stanley Péan is a jazz scholar who takes us seamlessly and knowledgeably through the history of the music, stopping at a number of high points along the way. He gets behind the scenes with anecdotes that tell much about the misunderstandings that have surrounded the music. How could French existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre have mixed up Afro-Canadian songwriter Shelton Brooks with the Jewish-American belter Sophie Tucker? What is the real story behind the searing classic "Strange Fruit" made immortal by Billie Holiday, who at first balked at performing it? Who knew that an Ohio housewife named Sadie Vimmerstedt was behind the revenge song "I wanna be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart?" And since this is jazz, there is no shortage of sad ends: Bix Beiderbecke, Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, to name a few.
Jazz is liberation music, from Fats Waller to Duke Ellington to John Coltrane who walked side by side with Martin Luther King with his piece "Alabama." Péan shows how musicians like Miles Davis worked with the emerging voices of hip-hop to widen jazz's audience. The intricate crisscross between Black musical forms, from Marvin Gaye to the Last Poets is explored, as well as how the movies, Hollywood and European cinema alike, tried to use jazz, often whitening it in the process (with the exception of Spike Lee).
About the authors
Stanley Péan was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in the spring of 1966, and he grew up in the Saguenay region of Quebec, where his parents settled after immigrating in the fall of that same year. A writer and cultural journalist, over the last thirty years, he has published twenty-five works in a variety of genres: novels, short story collections, essays, and fiction for young readers. A music lover, every night of the week Péan hosts a jazz show on ICI Musique, Radio-Canada's music channel. And though he is past fifty, he still has not learned to drive. Which explains the taxis...
David Homel was born in Chicago in 1952 and left that city in 1970 for Paris, living in Europe the next few years on odd jobs and odder couches. He has published eight novels, from Electrical Storms in 1988 to The Teardown, which won the Paragraph Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2019. He has also written young adult fiction with Marie-Louise Gay, directed documentary films, worked in TV production, been a literary translator, journalist, and creative writing teacher. He has translated four books for Linda Leith Publishing: Bitter Roase (2015), (2016), Nan Goldin: The Warrior Medusa (2017) and Taximan (2018). Lunging into the Underbrush is his first book of non-fiction. He lives in Montreal.