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Flying High


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Benny Golson. Acknowledgements. 13 chapters. Coda. Appendix. Index.

About the Author

Peter King is a leading alto saxophonist, composer, aero-modeller and writer.


Reviews of Flying High: A Jazz Life and Beyond by Peter King 29.4.11 by Stephen Keogh: 'Peter King has written an account of himself which is not only compelling, but touching in its honesty and openness. This book is filled with the wisdom of a true master, and should be an obligatory read on the curriculum of all music schools and colleges. It is full of insights into the stuff that cannot be taught in a conservatoire. It describes the dedication and devotion needed to attain the level of playing that few manage to get to. It is a must for anyone seriously engaged with improvised music, whether it be jazz or any other musical category. There are many stories of the road (on tour), which are by turns dramatic, heart breaking and hilarious... There is really even too much here for just one movie... The book should be available in public libraries and rehabilitation centres everywhere as it describes the before, during and after. Peter should be regarded as a national treasure. Hopefully with the release of this book, more people inside and outside of the UK will become of aware of that. It's very important that the younger musicians in the UK are conscious of just how great he actually is. Years ago during a conversation about how difficult it was becoming to get work, Art Farmer said "Peter King? That guy should be working wherever, whenever and with who ever he wants". Having known and played with Peter for over 20 years, when reading this book I could hear his voice telling me these stories. He has captured himself on paper and the book really feels as though it is him sitting there talking to you... it is the story of a survivor. It's a real slice of life, his life, and a big one at that.' The Jazz Rag, Issue 116m Spring 2011, Simon Spillett: 'A description of King's playing ethos might well equally apply to the contents of his prose; accurate, exactingly honest and candid with a refreshing lack of the self-aggrandisement that one sometimes encounters when veteran musicians trawl their memories. ... Flying High also contains recollections of King's other champion-winning obsession, free-flying model aircraft, and, with two fascinating reproductions of his own art work, reveals a talent for sketching and painting that he modestly dismisses. But that's Peter King, and in Flying High he comes as close as he'll probably ever get to acknowledging that his is a talent of world class. That he does so over the course of what is a largely riveting mix of opinion, observation and self-critique, is a blessing for his many fans. Northway deserve especial bouquets for pursuing with this one. It's a keeper.' Jazzwise, Issue 151, April 2011, Jack Massarik: 'In what has to be one of the frankest jazz biographies ever written, Britain's alto-sax giant comes clean with a vengeance. With unblinking candour he analyses the fears, neuroses and temptations that ... very nearly took his life. Illustrated with many black and white photos, the book is unusually well written and edited. Jazz Journal, Issue 64, 5, May 2011, Dave Gelly: 'To say that the Peter King who reveals himself in this book is a complicated individual is like saying that it gets a bit breezy on Beachy Head in winter. What emerges is a mixture of great natural talent, high intelligence, obsessive application to a task, and a collection of sensitivities and phobias so acute as to be at times disabling. ... he scatters practical tips and reflections on the art of playing jazz throughout the text, which any novice musician would do well to take note of. There are enough 'jazz life' stories here to keep the anecdote hounds happy, but there's a strange, introspective quality to many of them, especially the early ones, in which his own insecurities play a crucial part. The tale of his encounter with Bud Powell in Paris is a notable example, and deserves a place in some future anthology of jazz writing. He draws convincing character sketches too. For instance, my own limited experience of Philly Joe Jones had led me to conclude that there was something diabolical about his undoubted charm, and that is exactly how he comes across here. Others with whom King has played over half a century - Tubby, John Dankworth, Annie Ross, Red Rodney, Eartha Kitt, Ray Charles etc, etc, are equally well drawn. ... Certainly his latter years have been highly productive. He achieved international status in the world of competitive unpowered model flight ... completed an opera ... revived his interest in painting - and continued playing better than ever.' The Morning Star, 5 May 2011, Chris Searle: 'Hear him play his burning alto saxophone. He soars, he flows, he dives, he jets, he leaps, he crawls in the blues, he powers in sonic glory - a master of unique musicianship and rhapsodic beauty... King still plays his alto like a dream, and his musical skill has led him to write Zyklon, an opera about the life of Fritz Haber ... who developed the killer gas of the concentration camps. But Flying High shows that he is also a very fine and expressive writer whose storytelling power causes many incidents in his life and the people who provoked them to remain indelible in the minds of his readers... But catch him at a jazz venue near you as he tours with his own quartet or as a featured altoist of John Donaldson's Unity, playing their tribute to the late South African pianist Bheki Mseleku. You'll fly too with the surge of his horn.' The Beat, May 2011, Russell Newmark: 'The very readable, easy text is enlighteningly descriptive and informative, perceptive and analytical in its view from the inside of the vagaries and uncertainties of jazz. A collection of vintage b&w photos accompanies a remarkable story of success and survival.'

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