2 posts categorized "Books"

Capturing the moving target of jazz and its artists, one at a time: Ron Netsky's Jazz Snapshots

In the years since I moved to Rochester from Chicago, I've enjoyed reading (and often linking to) Ron Netsky's articles in Rochester's City Newspaper profiling the jazz musicians or groups playing at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, various programs at the Eastman School of Music, The Bop Shop, the former Exodus to Jazz series of concerts, and other venues around Rochester. So, it was great to receive a copy of Ron's new book, Jazz Snapshots, which assembles over 150 of those articles behind a cool cover by Rochester artist David Cowles, whose work you'll recognize from RIJF posters. As Ron describes the thought behind the title in the Introduction to the book:

The title is based on the premise that I wrote about these musicians at particular points in their careers and short articles are far from complete pictures. They are, rather, snapshots of moving targets. Every life is full of twists and turns; jazz musicians don't even know where their next solo is going.

The profiles and interviews in Jazz Snapshots include giants of jazz, major U.S. and international jazz artists from ragtime to straight-ahead to avant-garde who have played in Rochester over the years (some of whom have ties to Rochester), and some of the local jazz musicians who you love to go out to hear throughout the year. These thoughtful "snapshots" are not "so-and-so has played with X, Y, and Z" profiles, but rather dig much deeper into the artists to reveal more about who they are and and their craft. Ron sets out a few examples from the book of these revelations in the sheet he included with the book, like Ron Carter talking about his delight in making saxophonists inhale, McCoy Tyner recalling the moment John Coltrane decided to record My Favorite Things, and Cécile McLorin Salvant explaining why she doesn't mind making audiences squirm. There are many more. 

The nearly 500 pages of articles are mostly arranged by instrument (you all have your favorites...) and then chronologically once you are in a category, noting where they were playing at the time. Ron also provides a few miscellaneous articles on artists who don't quite fit the other categories (like Tom Lehrer) and from genres that have always had a close association with jazz like blues, R&B, and soul. After publishing JazzRochester for so many years, it reminded me that Rochester had provided me the opportunity to hear so many (if not most) of these artists play. I'm looking forward to re-reading many of these articles. If you have a favorite article (either from the book or City), leave a comment on this post.

You can buy Jazz Snapshots and check out some of the book in print or Kindle by selecting the Amazon links underneath the cover image in this post. Full disclosure, if you choose to purchase the book after clicking the "Buy" link, JazzRochester may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you or the author.  

Ron Netsky is currently a Professor and the Director of the Studio Art Undergraduate Program at Nazareth College (or should I say "University"?) and still writes occasionally for City about music.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A graphic tale of Charlie Parker and his art, Dave Chisholm's Chasin' the Bird

ChasinTheBirdcover_postDave Chisholm straddles a number of arts. He is an accomplished trumpet player, composer, and educator who lives and gigs in several genres around Rochester (well, pre-pandemic, that is...), where he received his doctorate in jazz trumpet from the Eastman School of Music in 2013. He is also a talented cartoonist who uses that art, combined with music, to tell stories that can draw you in and teach you something about something few outside the world of music or jazz could reach on their own. In 2017, I wrote here about his graphic novel Instrumental that followed jazz trumpeter Tom as he seeks to reach the next level in his art ... at a dear cost. This month, Chisholm is publishing a new graphic novel Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in Californi, 144 pages commissioned by the Charlie Parker estate with Instrumental’s publisher Z2 Comics in celebration of the Centennial of Bird’s birth. It explores the period beginning in 1945 during which Parker traveled to California with a band put together by his friend Dizzy Gillespie for a residence at a well-known club in LA.

Through recollections of those who crossed his path during this time on the West Coast, interviews with Bird, biographies, and other real and imagined situations and conversations, Chisholm builds a story that tries to capture this time in Bird’s life, the effect of his obsessions and the drugs, and sources of Bird’s musical genius. As Chisholm recounted in a recent interview with Publisher’s Weekly:

A huge part of the Charlie Parker story is the myth-building, legends, the impossible tall tales that could not be true, but could be true, and all the different versions of the same story—like a Rashomon kind of storytelling…. So there’s the legend side of Charlie Parker, versus the reality of Charlie Parker. So that angle led me to the storytelling method used in the book, where there’s a series of vignettes; each one from the point of view of someone whose life intersected with Charlie’s during that time.

As with Instrumental, I sat down and consumed a PDF of Chasin' the Bird in one sitting with a soundtrack of Bird playing on the stereo to accompany the images (Chisholm had written and performed a soundtrack for Instrumental). Again, I was lost in the story and images. A hour or so (and a few LP sides…) later I had learned so much about Parker's short life and felt like I had peeked behind a curtain to get some understanding of his compositions and playing. Each vignette is drawn in a different style and through these changes in style, Chisholm explores Bird’s life and his music and through this approach tries to fulfill the reason that the Parker estate had commissioned him, again as told to Publisher’s Weekly: "to reach people who wouldn't otherwise find Charlie Parker’s music” through a medium that he thought would help to synchronize the "temporal aspect of music, versus the temporal aspect of a still drawing.”

Chasin the Bird will be published in mid-October and I encourage you to get a copy of Chasin' the Bird, slap a Parker LP or disk (or stream) on your ears and dive in. It’s worth the ride. Here’s a link on Chisholm’s site for more info and links or you can order direct from Z2 Comics or your favorite online content provider.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.