Books·Canadian

Black & Blue by Stanley Péan, translated by David Homel

A book about the history of jazz music.

A book about the history of jazz music

The book cover features a block of white across the top and then underneath, the background is blue with the title, Black & Blue in black block text. The word "blue" is much bigger taking up about two-thirds of the cover.

Black & Blue: Jazz Stories takes us through the history of the music, stopping at a number of high points along the way. Stanley Péan gets behind the scenes with anecdotes that tell much about the misunderstandings that have surrounded the music. How could French existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre have mixed up Afro-Canadian songwriter Shelton Brooks with the Jewish-American belter Sophie Tucker? What is the real story behind the searing classic "Strange Fruit" made immortal by Billie Holiday, who at first balked at performing it? Who knew that an Ohio housewife named Sadie Vimmerstedt was behind the revenge song "I wanna be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart?" And since this is jazz, there is no shortage of sad ends: Bix Beiderbecke, Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, to name a few.

Jazz is liberation music, from Fats Waller to Duke Ellington to John Coltrane who walked side by side with Martin Luther King with his piece "Alabama." Péan shows how musicians like Miles Davis worked with the emerging voices of hip-hop to widen jazz's audience. The intricate crisscross between Black musical forms, from Marvin Gaye to the Last Poets is explored, as well as how the movies, Hollywood and European cinema alike, tried to use jazz, often whitening it in the process (with the exception of Spike Lee). (From Véhicule Press)

Stanley Péan is the author of eight novels and seven short story collections, including Le tumilte de mon sangZombi blues and Bizango. He's been the host of Quand le jazz est là on ICI Musique for the last 13 years.

David Homel is a writer and translator based in Montreal. He is the author of eight novels, including Electrical Storms, The Speaking Cure and The Teardown, one memoir, Lunging into the Underbrush and five novels for younger readers with co-writer Marie-Louise Gay. He has also directed documentary films, worked in TV and radio.

Interviews with Stanley Péan

Journalist and host of Radio-Canada's music show "Quand le jazz est là", Stanley Péan, talks about his new book, written in French and translated to English by David Homel. Stanley delves into the origins of jazz and how it has been used as a form of protest music over the years.

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