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 Favourites, Christmas Gift Ideas - Books on Popular, Jazz, & World Artists

Gift Guide 2020Our second gift guide offers suggestions of books published this year on jazz & world music artists such as Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, and Ravi Shankar; famous names in the world of musical theatre and songwriting including Stephen Sondheim and Irving Berlin; and a selection of books on rock & pop icons such as David Bowie, Mariah Carey, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and more.

Jazz & World Music

Philip Clark; Headline Book Publishing; Hardback

In 2003, music journalist Philip Clark was granted unparalleled access to jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Over the course of ten days, he shadowed the Dave Brubeck Quartet during their extended British tour, recording an epic interview with the bandleader. Structured around this extended interview and intensive new research, this book unearths many hitherto unknown aspects of Brubeck's career.

Available Format: Book

Ricky Riccardi; Oxford University Press; Hardback

Between 1929 and 1947, Louis Armstrong transformed himself from a little-known trumpeter in Chicago to an internationally-renowned star. However, this era wasn't without its problems, from racist performance reviews and being held up at gunpoint by gangsters to struggling with an overworked embouchure and getting arrested for marijuana possession. This book traces his mid-career fall from grace and subsequent dramatic resurgence.

Available Format: Book

Henry Martin; Oxford University Press; Hardback

As a brilliant improviser and founding father of bebop, Charlie Parker has secured a reputation and legacy second to none since his birth nearly 100 years ago. Because of his excellence as an improviser, however, his compositions have taken a back seat. This volume rebalances our understanding of Parker by spotlighting his significance as a jazz composer, critically analysing Parker's compositions and situating them within both his individual musicianship and early bebop style.

Available Format: Book

Richard Carlin & Ken Bloom; Oxford University Press; Hardback

A new biography of one of the key composers of twentieth-century American popular song and jazz, this book illuminates Eubie Blake's little-known impact on over 100 years of American culture. It not only traces Blake's extraordinary life and accomplishments, but also examines the professional and societal barriers confronted by black artists from the turn of the century up to the 1980s.

Available Format: Book

Will Friedwald; Oxford University Press; Hardback

One of the most memorable American musicians of the twentieth century, Nat King Cole is remembered today as both a pianist and a singer. This biography offers a new take on this fascinating musician, framing him first as a bandleader and then as a star. It explores Cole's role as an advocate for the Great American Songbook as well as an intrepid explorer of other genres, including world music, rhythm & blues, and country & western.

Available Format: Book

Oliver Craske; Faber & Faber; Hardback

For this first biography of Ravi Shankar, published on the centenary of his birth, Oliver Craske carried out more than 130 new interviews and enjoyed unprecedented access to the Shankar family archives. The book paints a vivid picture of the public and private faces of a captivating, restless workaholic who lived an intense and extraordinary life across ninety-two years. Throughout, this biography seeks to answer the question of what impelled Ravi Shankar on an unending creative and emotional quest.

Available Format: Book

Musicals & Songwriters

West Side Story was a movie different from anything that had come before, but this cinematic victory came at a price. The enormous budget and complicated logistics made it a difficult production, and massive overruns in both cost and schedule led to tension between co-directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. This book offers a captivating account of a crucial and exciting cultural moment.

Available Format: Book

Peter Gethers (editor); Everyman; Hardback

Stephen Sondheim's brilliant songs and lyrics of genius have entertained us for more than half a century. Working together with Sondheim, editor Peter Gethers has selected lyrics from across Sondheim's career, drawn from shows including West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods.

Available Format: Book

James Kaplan; Yale University Press; Hardback

This fast-moving, musically astute portrait of arguably the greatest composer of American popular music explores the interplay of Irving Berlin's life with the life of New York City, offering a visceral narrative of Berlin as self-made man and witty, tough Jewish immigrant.

Available Format: Book

Rock & Pop

Chris Welch; Welbeck Publishing Group; Hardback

Through more than 150 stellar photos, this book tells the story of an artist the likes of which we'd never seen, and may never see again. David Bowie had a career fuelled by the spirit of reinvention, and was as colourful in his style and image as he was in his music. If a picture says a thousand words, this book ranks as the definitive manual on how to leave a lasting legacy.

Available Format: Book

Elton John; Pan Books; Paperback

In this paperback edition of his first official autobiography, Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life in this funny, honest and moving story of the most enduringly successful singer/songwriter of all time. He writes powerfully about getting clean and changing his life, finding love with David Furnish, and becoming a father. In a voice that is warm, humble and open, this is Elton on his music and his relationships, his passions and his mistakes.

Available Format: Book

Philippe Margotin & Jean-Michel Guesdon; Mitchell Beazley; Hardback

Spanning nearly fifty years of albums, this is the most in-depth exploration of Springsteen's songs ever written. Moving chronologically through his long career, it explores everything there is to know about every single song, from the inspiration behind the lyrics and melody, to the recording process and even the musicians and producers who worked on each track.

Available Format: Book

Mariah Carey; Macmillan; Hardback

The global icon and artist tells the unfiltered story of her life - the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams - that contributed to the person she is today. This book is composed of her memories, mishaps, struggles, survival and songs.

Available Format: Book

Andrew Ridgeley

This new paperback edition tells the inside story of Wham! and Andrew Ridgeley's life-long friendship with George Michael, from the day they met in Watford in 1975 to their iconic final concert in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986. He reveals what it was like being at the centre of a pop hurricane and talks of his love for and friendship with George.

Available Format: Book

Over ten years after this seminal biography was first released comes this major and extensively-researched revision, providing an unflinching look at life inside one of the biggest rock bands of all time. It presents the definitive, final word on the band that wrote the rulebook for on-the-road excess and eventually paid the price for it with disaster, drug addiction and death.

Available Format: Book