Motown: The Sound of Young America by Adam White with Barney Ales

ML 3792 .M67 W45 2016

“Years in the making, Motown: The Sound of Young America is the definitive visual history of the Detroit-based independent record company which became a style unto itself, a prolific and hugely successful production line of suave, sassy and sophisticated music through the sixties, seventies and eighties. Featuring extensive specially commissioned photography of treasures gathered from the archives, this landmark publication also captures the graphic and design iconography that underpinned Motown’s extraordinary creativity.

Packed with fresh insights gleaned from scores of interviews with key players, this exceptional and revealing book delves into the workings of the Motown machine and details how a dedicated team of backroom believers, white and black, turned a small family business into a popular music powerhouse. This was the home of Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and many more. Motown: The Sound of Young America is a spectacular labor of love befitting an incredible story.”
– publisher description


How to Listen to Jazz

How to Listen to Jazz by Ted Gioia

ML 3506 .G55 2016

“Jazz is the great American art form; its very essence is predicated on freedom and creativity. Its sound unequivocally calls forth narratives of past struggles and future dreams. Yet jazz can be as inscrutable as it is mesmerizing, especially to outsiders who don’t know what to make of improvisation or unexpected shifts in melody or tempo. How does a casual listener learn to understand and appreciate the nuances between the unapologetic and innovative sounds of Louis Armstrong, the complexity of Coleman Hawkins’s saxophone, and the exotic and alluring compositions of Duke Ellington? How does Thelonious Monk fit in alongside Benny Goodman and John Coltrane?

In How to Listen to Jazz, award-winning music scholar Ted Gioia presents a lively, accessible introduction to the art of listening to jazz. Covering everything from the music’s structure and history to the basic building blocks of improvisation, Gioia shows exactly what to listen for in a jazz performance. He shares listening strategies that will help readers understand and appreciate jazz for the rest of their lives, and provides a history of the major movements in jazz right up to the present day. He concludes with a guide to 150 elite musicians who are setting the tone for twenty-first-century jazz.

Both an appreciation of and an introduction to jazz by a foremost expert, How to Listen to Jazz is a must-read for anyone who’s ever wanted to understand America’s greatest contribution to the world of music.”
– publisher description

Kill ‘Em and Leave

Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
by James McBride

ML 420 .B818 M33 2016

“A product of the complicated history of the American South, James Brown was a cultural shape-shifter who arguably had the greatest influence of any artist on American popular music. Brown was long a figure of fascination for James McBride, a noted professional musician as well as a writer. When he received a tip that promised to uncover the man behind the myth, McBride set off to follow a trail to better understand the personal, musical, and societal influences that created this immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated soul genius.

Kill ‘Em and Leave is more than a book about James Brown. Brown’s rough-and-tumble life, through McBride’s lens, is an unsettling metaphor for American life: the tension between North and South, black and white, rich and poor. McBride’s travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown’s never-before-revealed history: the country town where Brown’s family and thousands of others were displaced by America’s largest nuclear power bomb-making facility; a South Carolina field where a long-forgotten cousin recounts, in the dead of night, a fuller history of Brown’s sharecropping childhood, which until now has been a mystery. McBride seeks out the American expatriate in England who co-created the James Brown sound, visits the trusted right-hand manager who worked with Brown for forty-one years, and interviews Brown’s most influential nonmusical creation, his “adopted son,” the Reverend Al Sharpton. He describes the stirring visit of Michael Jackson to the Augusta, Georgia, funeral home where the King of Pop sat up all night with the body of his musical godfather, spends hours talking with Brown’s first wife, and lays bare the Dickensian legal contest over Brown’s estate, a fight that has consumed careers; prevented any money from reaching the poor schoolchildren in Georgia and South Carolina for whom it was intended; cost Brown’s estate millions in legal fees; and left James Brown’s body to lie for more than eight years in a gilded coffin in his daughter’s yard in South Carolina.

James McBride is one of the most distinctive and electric literary voices in America today, and part of the pleasure of his narrative is being in his presence, coming to understand Brown through McBride’s own insights as a black musician with southern roots. Kill ‘Em and Leave is a song unearthing and celebrating James Brown’s great legacy: the cultural landscape of America today.”
– publisher description

Small Town Talk

Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix & Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock by Barney Hoskyns

ML 3534.3 .H672 2016

“Think “Woodstock” and the mind turns to the seminal 1969 festival that crowned a seismic decade of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. But the town of Woodstock, New York, the original planned venue of the concert, is located over 60 miles from the site to which the fabled half a million flocked. Long before the landmark music festival usurped the name, Woodstock – the tiny Catskills town where Bob Dylan holed up after his infamous 1966 motorcycle accident – was already a key location in the ’60s rock landscape.

In Small Town Talk, Barney Hoskyns re-creates Woodstock’s community of brilliant dysfunctional musicians, scheming dealers, and opportunistic hippie capitalists drawn to the area by Dylan and his sidekicks from the Band. Central to the book’s narrative is the broodingly powerful presence of Albert Grossman, manager of Dylan, the Band, Janis Joplin, Paul Butterfield, and Todd Rundgren – and the Big Daddy of a personal fiefdom in Bearsville that encompassed studios, restaurants, and his own record label. Intertwined in the story are the Woodstock experiences and associations of artists as diverse as Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Tim Hardin, Karen Dalton, and Bobby Charles (whose immortal song-portrait of Woodstock gives the book its title).

Drawing on numerous first-hand interviews with the remaining key players in the scene – and on the period when he lived there himself in the 1990s – Hoskyns has produced an East Coast companion to his bestselling L.A. canyon classic Hotel California. This is a richly absorbing study of a vital music scene in a revolutionary time and place.”
– publisher description

Every Song Ever

Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty by Ben Ratliff

ML 3838 .R29 2016

“What does it mean to listen in the digital era? Today, new technologies make it possible to roam instantly and experimentally across musical languages and generations, from Detroit techno to jam bands to baroque opera – or to dive deeper into the set of tastes that we already have. Either way, we can listen to nearly everything, at any time. The possibilities in this new age of listening overturn old assumptions about what it means to properly appreciate music – to be an “educated” listener.

In Every Song Ever, the veteran New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff reimagines the very idea of music appreciation for our times. As familiar subdivisions like “rock” and “jazz” matter less and less and music’s accessible past becomes longer and broader, listeners can put aside the intentions of composers and musicians and engage music afresh, on their own terms. Ratliff isolates signal musical traits – such as repetition, speed, and virtuosity – and traces them across wildly diverse recordings to reveal unexpected connections. When we listen for slowness, for instance, we may detect surprising affinities between the drone metal of Sunn O))), the mixtape manipulations of DJ Screw, Sarah Vaughan singing “Lover Man,” and the final works of Shostakovich. And if we listen for closeness, we might notice how the tight harmonies of bluegrass vocals illuminated the virtuosic synchrony of John Coltrane’s quartet. Ratliff also goes in search of “the perfect moment”; considers what it means to hear emotion by sampling the complex sadness that powers the music of Nick Drake and Slayer; and examines the meaning of certain common behaviors, such as the impulse to document and possess the entire performance history of the Grateful Dead.

Encompassing the sounds of five continents and several centuries, Ratliff’s book is an artful work of criticism and a lesson in open-mindedness. It is a definitive field guide to our radically altered musical habitat.”
– publisher description

MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson

MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson by Steve Knopper

ML 420 .J175 K66 2015

The ultimate critical biography of Michael Jackson: a panoramic, vivid, and incisive portrait that explores and celebrates his influence in music, dance, and popular culture.

From the moment in 1965 when he first stepped on stage with his brothers at a local talent show in Gary, Indiana, Michael Jackson was destined to become the undisputed King of Pop. In a career spanning five decades, Jackson became a global icon, selling over four hundred million albums, earning thirteen Grammy Awards, and spinning dance moves that captivated the world. Songs like “Billie Jean” and “Black or White” altered our national discussion of race and equality, and Jackson’s signature aesthetic, from the single white glove to the moonwalk, defined a generation. Though his final years were mired in scandal and controversy, Jackson’s ultimate legacy will always be his music.

Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper explores the beguiling and often contradictory forces that fueled Michael Jackson’s genius, from his early days with the Jackson 5 to his stratospheric success as a solo artist to “Beat It” and “Thriller,” “Bad,” and “Man in the Mirror” to his volatile final years, his attempted comeback, and untimely death. Drawing on an amazing four hundred interviews – ranging from Jackson’s relatives, friends, and key record executives to celebrities like and “Weird Al” Yankovic – this critical biography puts all the elements of his career into perspective and celebrates his triumph in art and music. This is a rare and comprehensive view into the genius and influence of an incomparable talent.”
– publisher description

The Sonic Boom

The Sonic Boom

The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy
by Joel Beckerman, with Tyler Gray

ML 3830 .B33 2014

“From movie scores and national anthems to cell-phone dings and squeaky shoes, sound and music impact how we perceive the stories, situations, and products we encounter every day. The Sonic Boom reveals sound’s surprising power to influence our decisions, opinions, and actions in ways we might not even notice: the evergreen Pavlovian effect of ice-cream-truck jingles, the anxiety-inducing impact of discordant ambient noise, the reassuring chime of a computer’s startup tone. This book provides a whole new framework for thinking about sound’s effects on every aspect of our lives.

You don’t need to be a musician or a composer to harness the power of sound. Joel Beckerman explains how companies, brands, and individuals can strategically use sound to get to the essence of their mission, influence how they’re perceived by their audiences, and gain a competitive edge. Whether you’re a corporate giant connecting with millions of customers or a teacher connecting with one classroom of students, the key to an effective sonic strategy is the creation of “boom moments” – transcendent instants when sound connects with a listener’s emotional core.

Drawing on Beckerman’s experience as a composer and strategic sound consultant (his award-winning team at Man Made Music has created sounds, scores, and sonic branding strategies for companies like Univision, AT&T, Mercedes, and NBC) and the successful sonic strategies of companies and entertainment empires like Chili’s, Mustang, and Disney, The Sonic Boom offers readers insights into a revolutionary area of marketing, providing a powerful new vocabulary for sharing meaningful messages with sound.”
– publisher description