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Sunday, July 14th – 3:30pm
Writer Larry Tye introduces
The Jazzmen: How Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie Transformed America

Larry Tye has published books on the Pullman Porters, Satchel Paige, Bobby Kennedy…

The Jazzmen (Mariner Books, 2024) is “the story of America in the twentieth century,” says Ricky Riccardi. It’s told through the stories of  “three men who are not only the most important men in American music, but (who) changed the whole world,” says New Orleans bandleader and trumpeter Wendell Brunious. It tells “an uplifting and unifying story that is especially important now, when times are so fractured,” says Sonny Rollins.

It’s a book we need now. And it’s brilliant.

Duke Ellington, composer, orchestra leader, and jazz pianist, is seen in a publicity photograph of 1933 just prior to his first European tour opening at the London Palladium, June 12, 1933. Ellington was born April 29, 1899, in Washington D.C. and passed away in 1974. (AP Photo/Mills Music)

Larry Tye brings his new book, in conversation with Greg Stern, CEO of SFJAZZ.

The Jazzmen is  the story of three revolutionary American musicians, the maestro jazzmen who orchestrated the chords that throb at the soul of twentieth-century America.

— Duke Ellington, the grandson of slaves who was christened Edward Kennedy Ellington, was a man whose story is as layered and nuanced as his name suggests and whose music transcended category. 
— Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in a New Orleans slum so tough it was called The Battlefield and, at age seven, got his first musical instrument, a ten-cent tin horn that drew buyers to his rag-peddling wagon and set him on the road to elevating jazz into a pulsating force for spontaneity and freedom. 
— William James Basie, too, grew up in a world unfamiliar to white fans–the son of a coachman and laundress who dreamed of escaping every time the traveling carnival swept into town, and who finally engineered his getaway with help from Fats Waller.

What is far less known about these groundbreakers is that they were bound not just by their music or even the discrimination that they, like nearly all Black performers of their day, routinely encountered. Each defied and ultimately overcame racial boundaries by opening America’s eyes and souls to the magnificence of their music. In the process they wrote the soundtrack for the civil rights movement.

Based on more than 250 interviews, this exhaustively researched book brings alive the history of Black America in the early-to-mid 1900s through the singular lens of the country’s most gifted, engaging, and enduring African-American musicians.


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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.

The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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The Independent Musicians Alliance

Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.


Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site

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