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Norman Granz

The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice

Tad Hershorn (Author), Oscar Peterson (Foreword)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 488 pages
ISBN: 9780520267824
October 2011
$36.95, £25.95
Other Formats Available:
“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.
Tad Hershorn is an archivist at the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.
“This book is a valuable addition to the jazz literature.”—Norman Vickers The Jazz Society Of Pensacola
“[A] diligently researched biography. . . . [Hershorn] meticulously documents the personnel and songs played at many concerts and recording dates while avoiding irrelevant details.”—David Lander Stereophile
“This new biography of Norman Granz, well written and thoroughly researched, fills an obvious gap in the jazz literature. . . . Hershorn has assembled an impressively researched, detailed, and highly readable account of the life of one of the most significant non-musicians in jazz.”—Blue Light
“In this first-ever biography of an often brusque and unyielding but thoroughly principled jazz missionary, Tad Hershorn has masterfully researched Granz's vivid career, adding new information about the jazz originals he guided and sometimes sparred with.”—Nat Hentoff Wall St Journal
“Hershorn covers all of the aspects of Granz’ career in sharp detail. He is not afraid to question the judgment of his subject, or to specify when Granz made a particularly wrong turn. Although Granz’ concert and recording activities tended to dovetail, Hershorn wisely separates them to keep his story clear.”—Jazzhistoryonline.com
“Exhaustively researched comprehensive biography. . . . The story is told through a combination of personal interviews with Granz, never-published ephemera from his estate and interviews with musicians, historians and friends.”—Downbeat
“An eye-opening journey through Granz’s long career and, more broadly, through the colorful history of the music he championed. . . . Norman Granz is an impressive achievement. Some books are hard to put down. Yet readers may well find themselves putting this one down as they run to their online music libraries, CD shelves, or (for a lucky few) LP collections to listen again to Art Tatum’s piano, Ella Fitzgerald’s voice, or some other piece of Norman Granz’s legacy. That’s okay. Listen for a while. Then remember to come back and finish reading the story of how all that essential, irresistible music came to be.”—Washington Ind Rev Of Bks
“Hershorn’s biography, like Granz’s career, spans decades and continents. . . . It’s an epic career, and Hershorn gets it all in without short-shrifting any important aspect of Granz’s work. . . . The public man, warts and all, is on vivid display throughout Hershorn’s book, and any fan of jazz owes a debt to the author for detailing this essential chapter of the music’s rich and rollicking history.”—Jazz Times
“Granz’s views on and struggles toward racial equality, respect, and financial viability for musicians is perhaps the most engaging element of his life—and of this exceptional book. Hershorn . . . has crafted the first in-depth biography of Granz, and his voluminous research combined with an engaging, journalistic tone makes this a satisfying read.”—Library Journal
“Hershorn has chosen a good subject - it’s surprising that no one thought of a volume on Granz before now, and he has done some most impressive research to create this admirable book. It’s packed with anecdotes and well-founded detail which make it continuously interesting -- the story never flags. In recommending it without qualification, I guarantee it will absorb the reader for many hours. And then you’ll want to begin at the beginning again.”—Steve Voce Jazz Journal
“The book is alive with anecdotes about virtually all of the major jazz figures of four decades, and with stories of what Granz achieved for jazz and society. Hershorn’s work aids understanding of a crucial period of American history.”—Rifftides/Artsjournalblogs
“Tad Hershorn’s ‘Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice’ delivers an engaging and multisided retrospective on the culture altering jazz impresario. Hershorn writes with passion and an eye for reconstructing history with rich descriptions, narration, and humor. He imbues his writing with equal parts admiration and critical analysis. Specifically, Hershorn demonstrates a special talent for vividly building social spaces and the atmosphere of performances, thereby immersing the reader through the hair-raising but melodic musical world of the mid-20th century. Hershorn, an archivist, makes use of countless records, linear notes, press releases, newspaper clippings, and interviews to reconstruct and animate Granz’s life. Arguably, one of the best biographies of the year, Hershorn approaches his subject with a critical eye, allowing readers to delve deeper into the early jazz industry and fully live the challenges and successes of the Granz empire.”—Popmatters.com
“Hershorn's capsules on the artists are invaluable and his meticulous research . . . doesn't slow down the story of this unique figure. This is an exhaustively rich portrait of a man and his times.”—All About Jazz
“The book is impressively detailed. . . . The writing is clean and clear.”—Cadence Magazine (2)
“A substantial biography - which this is - attempting to describe and explain the uniqueness of the Granz phenomenon is welcome, and overdue. Tad Hershorn's book ‘Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice’ has resonances well beyond jazz, first as an in-depth study of a fiercely determined man with a deep trust in the correctness of his own instincts; second as a many-faceted portrait of a life fully lived; and finally as an analysis both of musical and social trends of the second half of the twentieth century. . . . A thoughtful, necessary, even vital addition to the history of jazz.”—Londonjazz
“The JAZZ AT THE PHILHARMONIC concerts were a turning point in my life. My fellow Californian Norman Granz figured it out. This biography lays out, in impressive detail and insight, the incredible contribution of Mr. Granz to the world of music and art. The deed of the vast recordings of ART TATUM says it all.” —Clint Eastwood

“Norman Granz was one of the most important people in the world of jazz. He did more to escalate respect for jazz and raise our salaries than anybody else. He absolutely loved jazz and jazz musicians. I’m honored to have shared a beautiful friendship with Norman for many, many years. Hopefully, with this incredible book by Tad Hershorn, the world will have a chance to learn about Norman, and his phenomenal contribution to our beloved music—jazz.”—Clark Terry, author of Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry

“Tad Hershorn’s Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice is a relentlessly readable, rigorously researched, deeply empathic portrait of the complex and heroic man who was arguably the greatest champion of this great American art form—and its great artists. Essential reading for anyone who loves jazz.” —James Kaplan, author of Frank: The Voice

“Norman Granz was renowned as a vivid force in jazz history, both as a producer of invaluable classic recordings by many of the music’s most original performers and also for his world-wide, all-star Jazz at the Philharmonic tours. Moreover, he broke the color line dividing jazz audiences by mandating the end of segregated seating his continually popular concerts. Yet until this magisterial, deeply researched biography of Granz by Tad Hershorn, there has been no full-scale inside account of the achievement and combats of this often larger-than-life personality who, without playing an instrument, was so swingingly instrumental in making jazz an international language.” —Nat Hentoff, author of At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene

“Norman Granz, one of the most significant non-musicians in jazz history, took gutsy public stands but remained a private person. Tad Hershorn's years of dedicated research reveal the man behind the lasting legacy, on which he sheds new light as well.. This great American story is a must read—and not just for jazz fans!” —Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz

“Norman Granz was an institution in jazz. He was loved by some, hated by others, often controversial, and always fearless. But Granz was also elusive and, until now, sometimes came across as more symbol than man. Tad Hershorn has changed all that in this stunning, beautiful biography of the music's most relentless advocate of social justice.” —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

“Norman Granz was an important man, and Tad Hershorn tells his story with a fearless compassion grounded in yeoman research. Imperious, vain, and rude, Granz was also generous, inventive, and brave. He fought valiantly for jazz and civil rights, made pots of money, and never failed to bet it on his passions and beliefs. If you do not know him, you couldn't ask for a better introduction than Hershorn's judicious portrait; if you think you do know him, you are in for more than a few surprises.” —Gary Giddins, author of Visions of Jazz

"You're probably smarter than you present yourself." —Norman Granz to author, 2001

ARSC Awards for Excellence, Association for Recorded Sound Collections

Book of the Year, Jazz Journalism Association

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