Music News

RIFF AND READ

Page 3 of 5

When Elvis does take center stage, Marcus tends to ramble aimlessly in a quest to define the sociological implications of his career. The author even goes so far as to compare Presley to Abraham Lincoln and Herman Melville.

When Presley comes out of seclusion next year--no longer holed up in Wyoming as a car mechanic and having struggled through Dead Elvis on his lunch break--he'll give Marcus a telephone call on behalf of us readers: "Damn, Greil, a lotta big words just to say y'all still don't know why you miss me. I shoulda saved my 25 bucks until you figgered it out.--Dave McElfresh

101 Ways to Make Money Right Now in the Music Business
Bob Baker
(Rockpress Publishing)

Have you, in a quiet moment, ever asked yourself the question this volume opens with: "Why not make good money at something that excites you?" And what musician, club owner or critic hasn't pondered Bob Baker's great imponderable: "Why is it that some people in the music business make tens of thousands of dollars a year, while others wallow in poverty most of their lives?" Here's a tome that answers these and nearly every other question you've ever had about the music business in 140 pages that gush with enough naivet to insult the average fourth grader. The editor and publisher of a St. Louis music monthly called Spotlight, the clueless Baker has it all figured out. He covers everything from "radio disc jockey" to "piano tuner." In this slim volume, you'll learn (courtesy of Bob) how to run a pawn shop, program a drum machine, sell musical gifts and novelties, make guitar straps and procure those pesky "miscellaneous hidden gigs." Along the way, Baker even demystifies simple tasks like running an independent record label and being a concert promoter.

Best of all, though, is the chapter on becoming a "rock n' roll hair stylist." According to Bob, there's big bucks in hair bands. All you have to do is get a couple of "popular local artists" as clients and, before you know it, you'll be "your city's premier music-business hair person." From there "your notoriety could extend across the country." The chapter ends with a phrase the sums up this moronic effort: "The sky's the limit.--Robert Baird

Hard Bop: Jazz & Black Music 1955-1965
David H. Rosenthal
(Oxford University Press)

It has taken almost 30 years for someone to write an overview of the hard-bop period of jazz, a decade straddling the 50s and 60s and borne of the bebop of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Little wonder no one, until now, felt up to the task. In contrast to the lighter, slicker feel of cool jazz, its West Coast counterpart, New York-based hard bop is not as easily pigeonholed. Author Rosenthal makes a valiant stab at corralling a difficult era of jazz development.

How can a writer bring cohesion to a music scene that ranges from drummer Art Blakey's penchant for dark, brass moods to the gospel-influenced piano-funk of Horace Silver? Rosenthal handles the problem by showing that hard bop was an octopus, each arm in need of separate attention. Chapters are dedicated to explaining everything from hard bop's coupling of tenor sax men with organists to a history of the hard-bop record label, Blue Note.

Compared with other jazz-period studies such as Ira Gitler's Swing to Bop, Rosenthal's book loses out. Missing are the musicians' personal anecdotes, which could have portrayed the time with the color it deserves. Aside from beginning and closing chapters that explain the birth and demise of hard bop, no real feel for the era is displayed. The players are presented as a community of musical neighbors with little in common--not really true, the reader discovers, when checking out the endlessly overlapping lineups of the period's recordings. With no other full-size overviews of hard bop available for contrast, we're left with a sometimes confusing collection of parallel histories.

Even if future publications prove Hard Bop to be a less-than-perfect book, it remains a comprehendible explanation of the years separating Charlie Parker's 100-mph improvisations from John Coltrane's atonal wailing. Unquestionably, making sense of this bop is hard, and Rosenthal's book is, at least, the first to piece together the borders of this complicated puzzle.--Dave McElfresh

Bill Graham Presents
Bill Graham and Robert Greenfield
(Doubleday)

Bill Graham Presents is an incredible achievement. This narrative biography is an engaging, behind-the-scenes look at the role played by the king of music promoters, from the psychedelic era to the present. Seeing that span of rock history through the eyes of Graham, a nonmusician a generation older than the countless bands he led to fame, makes for a fascinating read.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robert Baird
Dave McElfresh