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Death of a Bebop Wife [Paperback]

Grange Rutan , Michael Coyle

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Product details

  • Paperback: 534 pages
  • Publisher: North Country Distributors (30 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1881993426
  • ISBN-13: 978-1881993421
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 3.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,027,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am a non-fiction junkie and I LOVED this book. 23 Sep 2007
By Lady Whisper - Published on Amazon.com
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I am so glad the other reviews pointed out the amount of work (interviews) that went into this book. I am a non-fiction JUNKIE and this was the first biography I have ever read that had a heartbeat. All thanks to the words and flow of its wonderful author. Biographies usually reads like a typewriter.... this one read like a gin filled jazz song. It was like the book spoke to me I didn't have to read it.... wonderfully effortless.

The book allowed me to feel like a fly on the wall in one of the greatest times in music history as it was filled with first-hand accounts of the time from the musicians themselves. And all the while I found myself immersed in the gripping story of the troubled musician and his beautiful wife who left this world far too early, under questionable circumstances. After standing trial for her murder and being found innocent by a jury of his peers the author leaves it for you to decide on his guilt or innocence. It has history, music, mystery and a wonderful flow and vibe I think all will enjoy. I have read it twice and will absolutely pull it off the shelf to read again.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reinforcement of my experience with Al Haig 2 Nov 2007
By John B. Edmondson - Published on Amazon.com
I first met Al Haig in Sarasota, Florida, in the early 50s. My drummer friend, the late Jess Gruel, and I were very young "beboppers" just out of high school, and when we found out Al Haig was in town, it was like the arrival of royalty. The three of us ended up playing a few gigs together around the Sarasota-Venice area at that time. I was a trumpet player who knew most of the bebop riffs and enough standard tunes to get through a job. He was always gracious about our lack of expereinece and always, always professional. I ran into him again at Birdland on a trip to NYC with the Gator Band from UF a year or two later, and again a couple of years after that when I lived in NYC one summer. I spent some time talking with him several times at Birdland. Years later in the late 70s, I looked him up when he was playing at Gregory's in NY, and we chatted on one of his breaks. He was working as a single. When I reminded him of our earlier work together in Sarasota in the 50s, he could not recall any of that period of his life. So, when a friend told me of Grange Rutan's book, I ordered it immediately and devoured it. It filled in a lot of the personal info on Al that he had kept to himself when I knew him. I guess I never really knew him, expect for his obvious skill. It turns out that the period of his time in Sarasota was not a happy time for him, as the book explains. The book is very well written, and it reflects a daunting amount of research. I was put off slightly at first by the Helvetica typeface and the tight layout, but the content and story quickly make you forget such editorial shortcomings. It made me relive the whole era - a turbulent time for those of us who lived through it. I recommend it highly, and have to many, for insight into a marvelous musician who had apparent emotional problems, but who was a pro right to the end. I won't tell you from whence the title comes - you wiill have to buy the book and read it for yourself. But, it is a shocker.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost All You'll Ever Want To Know About Al Haig 24 Aug 2007
By Michael L. Slavin - Published on Amazon.com
This book is really a fascinating journey. The author, a former wife, of the great jazz pianist has compiled interviews and quotes from about as many sources as one might imagine could be collected. For example, and certainly not in order of importance, these are just some of the people who have been quoted about Al Haig: Gil Fuller, Ross Russell,Stan Levey, Miles Davis,
Ray Brown, Tommy Potter, Charlie Parker,Walter Bishop,Jr.,Bill Triglia, Chuck Wayne, Harry Belafonte,Eddie Bert,Ozzie Cadena, Candido, John Carisi,Kenny Clarke, Bill DeArango,Blossom Dearie,Buddy DeFranco, Gene DiNovi, Lou Donaldson, Billy Eckstine, Leonard Feather,Leonard Gaskin, Dizzy Gillespie,Al Grey, Tiny Grimes,Jon Hendricks,Nat Hentoff, Al Hibbler,Milt Hinton,Dick Hyman,Milt Jackson, Hank Jones,Duke Jordan,Morgana King,Don Lamond, Don Lanphere,Gene Lees,Lou Levy, Junior Mance,Dodo Marmarosa,Marty Napoleon,Jackie Paris,Chan Parker,Max Roach,Betty Roche,Red Rodney, John Russell, Little Jimmy Scott,Lucky Thompson,Toshiko, David Amram,John Bunch,Bill Crow,Russ Freeman,Stan Getz,Roy Haynes,Lin Halliday,Major Holley,Mike Longo, Dave McKenna, Anita O'Day, Bud Powell,Annie Ross, Horace Silver,Phil Urso, Phil Woods,Ahmad Jamal, Walter Norris,Jimmy Wormworth,Jaki Byard, George Coleman,Harold Mabern, Dick Meldonian,Helen Merrill,Billy Mitchell, Jamil Nasser,Henri Renaud,Sarah Vaughan,Stanley Crouch,Richard Cook,Peter King, Mark Morganelli,Phil Schaap. The list was almost endless. Also, many anecdotes about other players of the time such as Allen Eager,Chet Baker,Jon Eardley,Bill Evans. The book probably could have been improved with better editing. But really provides valuable insight into the atmosphere of jazz in the 1940's-60's.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By R. Mayfield Phillips - Published on Amazon.com
"Death of a Bebop WIfe" by Grange (Lady Haig) Rutan
Published by Cadence Jazz Books, Redwood, NY
A review by R. Mayfield Phillips

In a noteworthy book, part jazz history, part mystery, part autobiographical; the tragedy of an innocent's (Bonnie Gallagher Haig) loss of life is portrayed in a style that informs, while astonishing the reader at the depth and breadth of its historical content. For jazz buffs, readers will find an intimate look into a somewhat disregarded period where jazz as bebop influenced a large segment of urban culture. The author gives us a first hand glimpse of such notables as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and the central figure, Al Haig. The author, once briefly married to Haig (and also victimized), is able to delve underneath the pleasing artistry of pianist Haig, and reveal a darker character with shadows of misogamy. The ultimate victim's powerlessness at the hands of Haig reminds one of Charles Baudelaire's observations in "Flowers of Evil"

The Devil holds the string which moves us,
In repugnant things we discover charms:
Everyday we descend a step further toward Hell,
Without horror, through gloom that stinks.

By today's standards and given current society's awareness and prosecution of domestic abuse, Bonnie Haig's death, the bumbling police work, and flawed legal proceedings (Haig is freed) seem to be hopelessly disconnected to the perceived tranquility and competency to be found in an affluent New York City suburb. Furthermore family members sounded alarm bells that went unheeded: Robert Rutan (father of Grange) found Haig "weird" and stated "He never bought it." Maggi Gallagher (Bonnie's mother) called Haig "sick, sick sick" acknowledged being "scared to death" and revealed that "Al had beaten up my beautiful dauther."

What was it about that society that provided an alibi for the deviate behavior of certain artists and musicians? The book provides rather graphic insights of parallel cultures with differing standards living side by side. The author has been courageous in providing detail usually only available in a diary to insure credibility and objectivity. While she digs into the past "for both of us" the objective reader's emotions move from sympathy to anger given Haig's actions and final freedom. As Walter Benjamin stated in his "Thesis on the Philosophy of History."

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception, but the rule.

The author's unique narrative style is at times from the perspective of an observer-participant dialectic (reminding us of Baudelaire's flaneur), occiasionally as the narrator, but always passionate and intimate journalist who spares no detail or obsrvation as a result of her investigative prowess. The book is writtn in composiiton that juxtaposes time events in a non-linear arrangement constantly surprising and pleasing the reader. It is conversation which reaches backward then forward with flashes of anecdotes that charm and reinforce the passion of the author whether it is the music historian, mystery lover, or biography buff, "Bebop Wife" is a story as unique as its author.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TELL ME SOMETHING THAT I DON'T KNOW!? 21 Sep 2007
By Robert S. Morrissey - Published on Amazon.com
TELL ME SOMETHING THAT I DON'T KNOW!? This declarative question, directed
at news "experts" by the VERY SAVVY HOST of a popular cable TV program, is how I approached: DEATH OF A BEBOP WIFE by Grange Lady Haig Rutan. At the outset of this brief review, please understand that I'M NOT THE WORLD'S EXPERT ON BEBOP! However, there are many Experts On Jazz...with a few true sages on the "Birth of the Cool"... BUT - very few LIVING BOPPERS actually have Bebop Credentials learned and earned in "THE LAND OF OOOBLADEE"...Who REALLY understand Bebop Music...AND the Bebop Men and the Bebop Women...WHO COLLECIVELY CREATED SOMETHING BRAND NEW IN JAZZ...sometime during the post WW-II era...out of the Ashes of Global Cacophony...and into the Phoenix of BEBOP......and onto THE NOW NEOBEBOP JAZZ WORLD......

AND SO, THE MYRIAD "REVELATIONS"...that I did not know about Bebop Jazz or Jazz Bebop...started immediately...as I was hooked on the Book's Cover (which I DID USE as one reason to purchase the 534 page chronicle)...and intuitively...correctly...judged the Book's Superb Contents...by the hauntingly BEAUTIFUL WOMAN'S EYES...and...Book's Mysterious Title - words: "DEATH"..."WIFE" -
plus the Author's jazz familiar name - Lady HAIG...Grange...Rutan.

I guess Im just a "Human Big Easy"...'cause I do LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY...A
TRUE STORY WHO-DUNIT...with layers of plots and hidden meanings in and
between the lines...LIKE A GREAT SHAKESPEAREAN PLAY...and...LOTS of things I did not know...about great jazz pianist AL HAIG...and BEAUTIFUL BONNIE - the murdered wife - AND the book's forever silenced...all enveloping victim...and the trial and acquittal of Bebop Jazz Pianist Al
Haig...and later "self revelations" (I won't say what to keep from prematurely breaking "secrets")...ALSO...OTHER MAJOR REVELATIONS IN THIS BOOK...WHICH I APPLAUD AS A PUBLIC SERVICE...ARE THE NUMEROUS DOCUMENTED CASES OF DOMESTIC ABUSE...MOST CANDIDLY REVEALED BY THE "OTHER" WIVES OF AL HAIG...WITH ALL OF THE PAINFUL TRUTH...............................

ON THE UPBEAT, this books is also new jazz history on the friends of Al Haig...the # ONES for whom he was CHOSEN pianist ...ALL THE JAZZ DOCTORS FROM CHARLIE PARKER TO DIZZY GILLESPIE TO MILES DAVIS TO MANY MANY MORE...and their historic music...and jazz lives.....WHICH WERE EYE- WITNESSED...AND RECORDED...and finally given to the world...after over 15 years of Exhaustive FIRST CLASS ACADEMIC RESEARCH...and commendably objective historiography WHILE BECOMING HIGHLY CREATIVE PAR EXCELLENT PRIZE WINNING WRITING.....By internationally acclaimed author - LADY HAIG - GRANGE "Rudie" {her Centenary College aka} RUTAN. Please Note:
I believe that this book, which has been criticized as "not well edited"
IS QUITE TO THE CONTRARY!...it was edited brilliantly!...AND reads exactly
as a reflection of BEBOP, ITSELF...verbalized/written Bebop notes visited
over and over again...each time with NEW, even more creative improvisation
of TRUTH in the both sad and beautiful song saga of "Death of a Bebop Wife"...

There is SO MUCH MORE which THIS BOOK revealed to me...for the very first time...but..I'll simply close with some personal statistics...to date, I've read this book THREE times (and each time learn more)...and so far...I have bought FIVE copies of the book as gifts for some SPECIAL FRIENDS....Why???...I simply LOVE this book...AND HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT TO YOU...because this refreshingly unique book will excite your imagination AND become your own Inner Bebop Jazz Festival!

Robert (Dr. Bob) Morrissey, Dean Emeritus of Graduate Studies and Research, State University of New York, College at Oneonta -
Also, Lifetme Jazz Afficionado -
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