Reading the book “Jazz Anecdotes,” by Bill Crow; it really gives the picture of what some of the first jazz musicians went through. This book introduces the jazz world as it really is. Throughout the book the stories reveal struggles, learning and teaching from one musician to another, discrimination, life on the road, and success. The different kind of characters and personalities is what makes this book interesting and come alive. In some of the stories of the book you sense personal and career struggles. First of all some of the musicians did not know how to read music because they either came from poverty or didn’t bother to learned how.
Though a musician needs good ear to play jazz it was possible for him to be illiterate and still succeed as a musician. Erroll Garner had such good ear as a child that he never bothered to learned how to read. Therefore he was the perfect example; it will only take him one time to hear one piece of music to have learned it. Another personal struggle is when a musician had a habit of drinking during the show because they thought they were hip not realizing that they could lose the art of mastering their instrument by becoming an alcoholic.
One of the career struggles of the jazz world was the Protestants which they had plenty of. Even some towns banned jazz in 1921, ranking it with tobacco and alcohol as a sin for their citizens. Finding good assistance like managers, bandleaders, promoters, publicists, club owners and record producers for jazz players was one of the career struggles because they might not deal with them directly but they affected the musician’s life and music.
These are just a few of the struggles that a jazz player went through, even though they had their sense of humor towards one another these musicians had real struggles that made them appreciate their music and make a difference in society. Through the stories there is musicians learning and teaching one another. Any person in an environment of jazz learns every day from how to play an instrument different and be the best at it to how to keep a good deal or how to get rid of a bad one.
For instance many jazz musicians referred to their “musical fathers,” which were the musicians who taught them or inspired them. It took a fatherly figure remark to set a young musician into the right path than the one he had been taking on himself. A good example is when Count Basie would spend a lot of time sitting in the row near Fats Waller’s organ bench until one day Waller asked him if he played the organ. As a result of that conversation it led to Basie following Waller where ever he played, listening and learning all the time.
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