Music

Review: Kehew, Lark in the Morning

May 25, 2006
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Review: Kehew, Lark in the Morning

The London Review of Books recently praised Robert Kehew’s Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours, a Bilingual Edition. Barbara Newman wrote, "Only formal verse, respecting the troubadours’ metrical innovations and their prodigious achievements in sonority and rhyme, can hope to convey both their individual voices and their collecive charm. It is here that Robert Kehew’s anthology, Lark in the Morning, succeeds so brilliantly." Although the troubadours flourished at the height of the Middle Ages in southern France, their songs of romantic love, with pleasing melodies and intricate stanzaic patterns, have inspired poets and song writers ever since, from Dante to Chaucer, from Renaissance sonneteers to the Romantics, and from Verlaine and Rimbaud to modern rock lyricists. Yet despite the incontrovertible influence of the troubadours on the development of both poetry and music in the West, there existed no comprehensive anthology of troubadour lyrics that respected the verse form of the originals until now. Lark in the Morning honors the meter, word play, punning, and sound effects in the troubadours’ works while celebrating the often playful, bawdy, and biting nature of the material. . . .

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Review: Kenney, Jazz on the River

April 26, 2006
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Review: Kenney, Jazz on the River

The Journal of American History recently reviewed William Howland Kenney’s Jazz on the River: "The history of how riverboat entertainment venues shaped the evolution of jazz receives long-overdue analysis in this thorough and sensitive study.… By locating jazz ‘on the river,’ Kenney draws a picture of the Jazz Age that shifts attention from the nightclubs and dance halls of major cities, broadening the social and occupational histories of the first four decades of jazz performance. His portrait of aspiring musicians who used the river to enhance their social mobility also brings a new dimension to our understanding of the Great Migration. For Kenney, the shifting racial and cultural tensions communicated through jazz resound as jazzmen riff on the ever-shifting currents of these great heartland rivers." In Jazz on the River, William Howland Kenney brings to life the vibrant history of this music and its seduction of the men and women along America’s inland waterways. Here for the first time readers can learn about the lives and music of the levee roustabouts promoting riverboat jazz and their relationships with such great early jazz adventurers as Louis Armstrong, Fate Marable, Warren "Baby" Dodds, and Jess Stacy. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Review: William Howland Kenney, Jazz on the River

January 23, 2006
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Review: William Howland Kenney, Jazz on the River

"The romance, the misery and the music of migration are all captured in William Howland Kenney’s Jazz on the River, a book that narrates a history that couldn’t be captured merely by doting on scratchy records, tattered scores and old reviews. It was commonly known that jazz was born in New Orleans and made its way up the Mississippi, but until Kenney no one had investigated the makers of the boats and the conditions of the musicians who worked on them. And no study before this one ever charted that northern migration so that we can appreciate the artists and how their musical communities were formed, giving us new ways to appreciate the Pittsburgh of Billy Strayhorn, Art Blakey, and Mary Lou Williams, the St. Louis of Miles Davis…. ntil Kenney’s book we never got to feel what…the riverboat gig was actually like. What we get in this book, with lucid prose and meticulous research, is a geographical and cultural context for the figures who would eventually become canonical, providing a vital new backdrop for music and anecdotes that had seemed well trodden…. As for actually placing jazz in its historical and cultural context in America, Kenney is among the . . .

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