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Before Motown


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During jazz's formative years, a surprisingly large number of influential performers hailed from Detroit and its environs. Much activity centered on the influence of Wayne State University's music department, where musicians took classes as well as planned various promotional and educational events for the city. They created a strong musical community that artists such as Yusef Lateef continue to this day. All of this is brought to light in this engaging, intense review of the musical developments of Detroit's jazz artists apparently the first book-length treatment of the topic. In addition, Bjorn (sociology, Univ. of Michigan) and jazz broadcaster Gallert provide a source of social commentary, tying the musical activities to life for the predominantly African American community. Over the last 20 years, the authors conducted 93 interviews with the scene's movers and shakers. In July, the Motor City celebrated its 300th birthday, so this title is also timely. Highly recommended for academic, large public, and music libraries. William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Besides the auto industry, Detroit is best-known for Motown the jubilant pop tunes of '60s bands like the Temptations. But Detroit produced music before the '60s, argues Lars Bjorn in Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960, written with veteran jazz broadcaster Jim Gallert. Swedish-born Bjorn, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan, explores the city's music scene from its pre-Big Band era to its 1950s "Golden Age" to rhythm and blues. Copiously researched Bjorn and Gallert interviewed over 90 club owners and musicians with never-before-published b&w photos and period advertisements, this large-format book will appeal to jazz enthusiasts and Detroit denizens. For the many European fans of American jazz, Plymbridge will make it available in the U.K. and Europe. ( Aug. 13) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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