In 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a pioneering black intellectual and the son of former slaves, recognizing “the dearth of information on the accomplishments of blacks . . . founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).”
Dr. Woodson and the ASALH would later, in 1926, establish the celebration that would go on to become known as Black History Month, choosing the month of February in order to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Today, the ASALH continues Dr. Woodson’s legacy as the progenitor of Black History Month by “disseminating information about black life, history and culture to the global community.”
Throughout our history, UC Press is proud to have published a great volume of work concerning the topics of black art, literature, politics, and more. Please join us throughout the month as we participate in this global celebration of black history.
The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon
by Maxine Gordon
“Dexter Gordon’s deep tone, relaxed delivery—even the frequent witty musical quotations—seemed like extensions of his gravely playful speaking voice. That voice carries over on the page too. You can hear it when you read his written testimony and extracts from letters included in Maxine Gordon’s illuminating biography.”
—Kevin Whitehead, NPR’s Fresh Air
Sophisticated Giant presents the life and legacy of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon (1923–1990), one of the major innovators of modern jazz. In a context of biography, history, and memoir, Maxine Gordon has completed the book that her late husband began, weaving his “solo” turns with her voice and a chorus of voices from past and present. Reading like a jazz composition, the blend of research, anecdote, and a selection of Dexter’s personal letters reflects his colorful life and legendary times. It is clear why the celebrated trumpet genius Dizzy Gillespie said to Dexter, “Man, you ought to leave your karma to science.”
Better Git It in Your Soul
An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus
by Krin Gabbard
“Krin Gabbard’s bio is as idiosyncratic as the great jazz bassist and composer that is its subject. There aren’t many places you can go to read comparisons between Mingus and Philip Roth as well as detailed musical analysis of his epochal and hard-swinging compositions.”
—New York Magazine
Charles Mingus is one of the most important—and most mythologized—composers and performers in jazz history. Classically trained and of mixed race, he was an outspoken innovator as well as a bandleader, composer, producer, and record-label owner. In Better Git It in Your Soul, Krin Gabbard digs into how and why Mingus chose to do so much self-analysis, how he worked to craft his racial identity in a world that saw him simply as “black,” and how his mental and physical health problems shaped his career. Gabbard sets aside the myth-making and convincingly argues that Charles Mingus created a unique language of emotions—and not just in music.
The Autobiography of Clark Terry
“A long awaited story of the great joy of playing the trumpet and making music since the early 1930s. Terry’s book is conversational in style but blunt and exacting in detail about people and dates; he holds nothing back.”
This is the story of one of the most recorded and beloved jazz trumpeters of all time. With unsparing honesty and a superb eye for detail, Clark Terry, born in 1920, takes us from his impoverished childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, where jazz could be heard everywhere, to the smoke-filled small clubs and carnivals across the Jim Crow South where he got his start, and on to worldwide acclaim. Terry takes us behind the scenes of jazz history as he introduces scores of legendary greats.
The Amazing Bud Powell
Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop
by Guthrie P. Ramsey
“Ramsey writes with a musician’s ear. . . . Full of beauty and that edgy logic.”
—The Times Literary Supplement
Bud Powell’s expansive musicianship, riveting performances, and inventive compositions expanded the bebop idiom and pushed jazz musicians of all stripes to higher standards of performance. Yet Powell remains one of American music’s most misunderstood figures, and the story of his exceptional talent is often overshadowed by his history of alcohol abuse, mental instability, and brutalization at the hands of white authorities. Illuminating and multi-layered, The Amazing Bud Powell centralizes Powell’s contributions as it details the collision of two vibrant political economies: the discourses of art and the practice of blackness.