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The Uncrowned King Of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz Paperback – 2 Apr 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; Reprint edition (2 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195340655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195340655
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 2.5 x 15.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,480,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This book first came out in hardback in 2005, but the intervening years have done nothing to diminish its status as the volume to turn to for anyone with an interest in bandleader/pianist Fletcher Henderson... (Nic Jones, All About Jazz)

About the Author

Jeffrey Magee is an Associate Professor and Chair of Musicology in the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His writings on jazz, ragtime, and American popular song have appeared in American Music, Lenox Avenue, International Dictionary of Black Composers, Musical Quarterly, the Cambridge History of American Music, and the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For most jazz fans, Fletcher Henderson was reknown as the arranger who was instrumental in providing the charts which kick-started Benny Goodman's career as a band leader. Before this, Henderson had lead his own band which is seen as one of the major precursor's to big bands such as those lead by Goodman. Star soloists included the likes of Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. Whilst Henderson has been carefully considered by a multitude of writers in the past, Jeffrey Magee's book essentially follows the route of the esteemed Gunther Schuller in his own books by including transciptions of the music within the narative but Magee goes further by proving himself a far better historian than Schuller.

From a technical point of view, an ability to read music is an advantage to understanding this book although I am not too good at this myself and found that familiarity with the records was a big help in understanding the extracts from the scores. You can get by without any musical knowledge but I think it is a help to be able to read music in order to understand what the authoer is saying. I actually sat at the piano and tried to read the music in many instances and this was of great value. This book chronicles Henderson's departure from an academic career to being at the forefront of the Black, American recording industry with Black Swan Records. Henderson is re-cast very much as coming from a highly educated and informed background and the eventual creation of his orchestra is dealt with far more sympathetically than by Schuller. Magee books these early records in context of the recordings of Henderson's contemporaries and reaches some favourable conclusions.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fine book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x916c00c0) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91b89ce4) out of 5 stars What a jazz book should be 28 Jun. 2007
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this world of mass-market trade publications on jazz, it is really refreshing to read such a musically literate book. This fascinating and engaging text is in no way beyond the general reader (i.e., one without an extensive musical background) but it is refreshing to actually see written music in a book on music, and an important jazz volume not written by a critic or journalist (not that there isn't room for the latter too, of course).
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x916e2984) out of 5 stars Challenging, yet informative read 24 Nov. 2011
By Mark S. Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read mostly music biographies and autobiographies and was glad to come across this book about Fletcher Henderson. However, it didn't take me long to realize this book was not a typical biography. The author states very early in the book that "This book is not a biography but a portrait of musical collaboration with Henderson at the center (p. 3)." There is enough background information presented to tell you where Henderson was from, who is family was, where he was educated, etc., but no deep examination about any character or emotional development; no reports of drama - in other words this is definitely not a "kiss and tell" kind of biography.

What the reader will find is a thorough examination of Henderson as a musician, band leader, and arranger. For the latter, the book is full of musical examinations with not only written explanations, but also musical examples that show specific part writing.

This book may not interest the average music fan. Because it is so specific explaining musical examples with music vocabulary, I think reading this book does require some knowledge and understanding of music terminology. It was a slow read for me and I have a degree in music! Those with more formal training in music should appreciate the manner in which the author did not hesitate to write to a specific and potentially narrow audience.

Great expose about a pivotal, though not as well known, musician.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91a84210) out of 5 stars Great Book! 4 Dec. 2012
By Joseph D. Anders - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read this book,also listen to Ken Burns CD. FH truly is the uncrowned king of swing. ˆimportant book about an important unknown muscian.
HASH(0x91538e88) out of 5 stars Great Book for Musicians 12 Mar. 2014
By Renee Evers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have a musician in your family, this is the biography to buy them. . It will give them hope and ambition,
and a knowledge of what has to be done and upheld to make it.

Renee Evers
HASH(0x91823d74) out of 5 stars Fletcher Henderson 9 Jun. 2016
By Ronald Phillips - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Almost more than I wanted to know on the subject. Delivered quickly & in pristine condition. It's going to the local Library when I'm done with it.
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