Friday, November 19, 2004

Destination: Out!!!

Dropped my book proposal off at my agent's office on 57th Street on Monday. It felt like an accomplishment, even if all we've done on it recently is tweak tiny little editorial inconsistencies. And surreptitiously make a dozen copies at work. A handful of editors around town will probably get the thing next week, or just after the holiday. It all feels somewhat anticlimactic --- or like some slow motion handoff: nothing to do now but wait until the play develops. Or doesn't.

The book, for now called Destination: Out!!! after a Jackie McLean Blue Note, is an introduction to free jazz, focusing mostly on great recordings from the late 1950s to now. Here's a teaser from the proposal:

Welcome to the world of free jazz—a place of outsize personalities, outrageous stories, and uncompromising music. Here you’ll meet the performer who plays so hard that keys fly off the piano. The bandleader who claimed to be from Saturn and outfitted his twenty-piece orchestra in space gear--—and sustained the enterprise for over thirty years. The saxophonist whose ragtag gospel marches were cited by Paul McCartney as a major influence on Sgt. Pepper’s. The world traveler who found a common ground between the music of Marrakech and Brooklyn. The pianist who created spectacular glissandi by dragging his knuckles across the keyboard, playing until his hands bled. The sax player whose ear-shattering shows often ended in fist fights with the audience. The electronic noise pioneer who later found success as the composer of the “Taxi” theme song. The avant gardist whose recital moved President Jimmy Carter to tears at a White House Jazz Festival. The musician many believe was killed by the CIA. The group that dons tribal gear and doctor’s lab coats, performing music that swings between vaudeville and African chants. And the free jazz legend whose music touched so many lives that a church was founded in his name and uses his music as liturgy.

Hope that appeals to someone. This music gets some decent coverage in the major jazz record guide, from Penguin, but generally is given pretty short shrift. As noted previously, we're trying to find a free jazz-friendly celeb to pen a foreword, try to up our profile. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth fame will probably get the proposal I sent him (by request) on Monday. Here's hoping. He's already proved to be a huge supporter of the music, having assembled and written for a Jazz Actuel mini box set.


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