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Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice [Kindle Edition]

Tad Hershorn , Oscar Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Any book on my life would start with my basic philosophy of fighting racial prejudice. I loved jazz, and jazz was my way of doing that," Norman Granz told Tad Hershorn during the final interviews given for this book. Granz, who died in 2001, was iconoclastic, independent, immensely influential, often thoroughly unpleasant—and one of jazz’s true giants. Granz played an essential part in bringing jazz to audiences around the world, defying racial and social prejudice as he did so, and demanding that African-American performers be treated equally everywhere they toured. In this definitive biography, Hershorn recounts Granz’s story: creator of the legendary jam session concerts known as Jazz at the Philharmonic; founder of the Verve record label; pioneer of live recordings and worldwide jazz concert tours; manager and recording producer for numerous stars, including Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson.

Product Description


"This book is a valuable addition to the jazz literature." -- Norman Vickers The Jazz Society Of Pensacola 20111117 "[A] diligently researched biography... [Hershorn] meticulously documents the personnel and songs played at many concerts and recording dates." -- David Lander Stereophile 20120401 "An impressively researched, detailed, and highly readable account of ... one of the most significant non-musicians in jazz." Blue Light 20120401

About the Author

Tad Hershorn is an archivist at the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1943 KB
  • Print Length: 503 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0520267826
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (17 Oct. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005T5O854
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #681,394 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Through his love of jazz Norman Granz worked to break down the barriers between white and black in America. His insistance on non-segregated concert halls and audiences at a time when segregation was rife is both remarkable and courageous. The concerts that he promoted under the Jazz at the Philharmonic banner have become legendary along with his support of Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and many other great jazz names.

Norman Granz also went on to found the Verve and later the Pablo record labels which produced some of the finest jazz albums of all time. Ted Hershorn tells the story well and honestly.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of seeing Mr Granz and JATP for the first time in Stockholm 1957. At that time I could not imagine that jazz could be that fun but this concert changed it all. Today, 60 years later, I have a decent collection of Verve and Pablo LP's and CD's. His life is truly most fascinating and I love reading it. Ted Hershorn has written a most magnificent book. Thank you Mr Hershorn!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Norman Granz was a pioneer in Jazz music 13 Oct. 2011
By Terrance Crooms - Published on
Author & Jazz archivist Tad Hershorn tells the story of top Jazz producer Norman Granz (1918-2001), whose social conscience was instrumental in earning African American musicians fair pay and equal treatment. Tad personally interviewed Mr. Granz on several occasions before his death in 2001. This book tells an intimate story of a man who was a pioneer in civil rights simply because of his love for Jazz music & the artist involved. Tad's archivist expertise comes into play as the book is chock full of pictures highlighting Norman Granz's career over the years.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Stuart Jefferson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Hardcover. Forward by Oscar Peterson. 14 page Prologue, 377 pages of text including an Epilogue, 4 page Chronology of Granz' life, 12 page Selected Bibliography, plus notes and an Index. There's also 16 pages of b&w photographs of Granz throughout his life. One great shot is of Granz and Pablo Picasso (Granz posed for Picasso several times-there's a portrait of Granz included) playing ping-pong. Another is an informal portrait of Granz in front of a drawing by Picasso of Ella Fitzgerald.

"Even half asleep, I love and appreciate you. Thanks very much. Ella." Ella Fitzgerald's telegram to Norman Granz in Paris.

Norman Granz is perhaps best known as the creator of the legendary Jazz At The Philharmonic series of concerts, and as the founder of the Verve records label. Anyone who listens to jazz to any extent will be familiar with his name. Granz produced and/or recorded many of the jazz stars whose music is still revered today.

But what most people don't know is that, along with presenting the very best in jazz, Granz also fought stubbornly for racial equality wherever he was in the world. He presented nothing but the best jazz artists, and felt they should be treated as the stars they were. And in the time period covered in this book, that was a difficult thing to do-both here in the U.S., and in Europe. Granz once commented (while on tour in Germany) on the fact that the Nazis had lost the war, yet they wouldn't treat Black musicians on an equal basis with Whites. And that's just one instance in this fine book on Granz' stance for equality. He never waivered when it came to the music he loved-he sought out only the best musicians he could find. And his commitment to racial equality was just as intractable.

The author, Tad Hershon, has dug deeply into Granz' background, including interviewing Granz shortly before his death. The in depth research is written with a combination of intelligence, an insight and reverence for Granz and the music. Together they combine into a very readable, informative look into not only Granz, but the era and the music. This fine book should be required reading by anyone who listens to jazz, and by anyone who wishes to know more about one of the genre's greatest non-musicians, whose importance to not only the music, but for racial equality of those musicians, was almost without peer. This book belongs on every jazz fan's shelf.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instruments played: none. Contribution to jazz: priceless. 14 April 2012
By James A. Vedda - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Hershorn has managed to write a highly engaging and well-documented biography even though his subject vacillated on whether he wanted his life examined in this way. Readers may vacillate as well, on whether or not they find the enigmatic Granz to be likeable. He could be uncommonly generous, giving expensive gifts (sometimes including luxury cars) to people he favored or sending money to musicians who were having health or financial problems. He could also be arrogant, abrupt, chauvinistic, and dismissive. He was a gourmet who would think less of someone because they sought out a good burger rather than a fine French restaurant.
Regardless of likeability, readers will certainly find Granz respectable. He was true to his convictions, especially racial equality, even when his moral commitment resulted in financial loss. Starting in the 1940s, he broke new ground in the integration of jazz performances and equal pay and accommodations for the performers. In the process, he was one of the driving forces in expanding jazz from small nightclubs to major concert halls.
The cast of characters is a who's who of jazz from the 1940s-80s, which is a delight for longtime jazz fans but may be a bit daunting for newcomers who will struggle to keep up with the namedropping. Fortunately, many great artists play big roles in the story, and we gain significant insights on their lives and careers. Among them are Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Nat Cole, Lester Young, and Coleman Hawkins.
Granz was also an art collector, and had a friendship with Pablo Picasso during the last few years of the artist's life. One chapter is devoted to this facet of Granz's character.
There's plenty to be learned here about jazz history, the civil rights struggle in America (and to a lesser extent, Europe), and the devotion of one man to a musical art form for which he perhaps did more than any other non-musician.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb biography 17 Jan. 2012
By Reader - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This biography brought out the many facets of Norman Granz for the first time for me. Having listened to several of the albums he produced at Verve and having read reviews of some of the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts he organized and managed, I was aware of him. However this full-length biography provides the context for those aspects of his career, and demonstrates the impact his work has had on both jazz music and the larger American culture and society.

The author has had access to considerable information about Granz and his relationships with the musicians whose careers he supported. Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum are the ones with whom he interacted most closely, but many others are included.

The author explains Granz's views on social issues, notably integration, and what Granz did to put his views into practice.

Almost every page of the biography is illuminating.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NORMAN AND THE JAZZ GIANTS 20 Nov. 2013
By Michael Palermo - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great read. I learned some much about Granz. Give this one a try. It also offers a great overview of jazz and the musicians that played it. Pick it up quick.
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