Murray Talks Music: Albert Murray on Jazz and Blues

Murray Talks Music: Albert Murray on Jazz and Blues


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The year 2016 will mark the centennial of the birth of Albert Murray (1916-2013), who in thirteen books was by turns a lyrical novelist, a keen and iconoclastic social critic, and a formidable interpreter of jazz and blues. Not only did his prizewinning study Stomping the Blues (1976) influence musicians far and wide, it was also a foundational text for Jazz at Lincoln Center, which he cofounded with Wynton Marsalis and others in 1987. Murray Talks Music brings together, for the first time, many of Murray’s finest interviews and essays on music—most never before published—as well as rare liner notes and prefaces.

For those new to Murray, this book will be a perfect introduction, and those familiar with his work—even scholars—will be surprised, dazzled, and delighted. Highlights include Dizzy Gillespie’s richly substantive 1985 conversation; an in-depth 1994 dialogue on jazz and culture between Murray and Wynton Marsalis; and a long 1989 discussion on Duke Ellington between Murray, Stanley Crouch, and Loren Schoenberg. Also interviewed by Murray are producer and impresario John Hammond and singer and bandleader Billy Eckstine. All of thse conversations were previously lost to history. A celebrated educator and raconteur, Murray engages with a variety of scholars and journalists while making insightful connections among music, literature, and other art forms—all with ample humor and from unforeseen angles.

Leading Murray scholar Paul Devlin contextualizes the essays and interviews in an extensive introduction, which doubles as a major commentary on Murray’s life and work. The volume also presents sixteen never-before-seen photographs of jazz greats taken by Murray.

No jazz collection will be complete without Murray Talks Music, which includes a foreword by Gary Giddins and an afterword by Greg Thomas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816699551
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 05/16/2016
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Albert Murray (1916-2013), author of thirteen books including Stomping the Blues, was a renowned jazz historian, novelist, and social and cultural theorist. He cofounded Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1987. 

Paul Devlin teaches at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and at St. John’s University. He earned his PhD in English at Stony Brook University in 2014. He is the editor of Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones, as told to Albert Murray (Minnesota), a finalist for the Jazz Journalists Association’s book award in 2012.

Gary Giddins is one of the world’s foremost jazz critics. His books include Visions of Jazz, Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker (Minnesota), Satchmo, Weather Bird, Natural Selection, Jazz, and Warning Shadows.

Greg Thomas is an award-winning jazz writer, editor, educator, and broadcast journalist. His work on jazz has been published in the Village Voice, The Root, All About Jazz, Salon, The Guardian, American Legacy, and the New York Daily News, for which he was the jazz columnist.

Table of Contents


Foreword: St. George and the Blues
Gary Giddins
Introduction. Albert Murray: Talking the Blues and So Much More
Paul Devlin
1. Interview with Wynton Marsalis
2. Interview with Dizzy Gillespie
3. Interview with Dan Minor
4. Interview with Greg Thomas
5. A Talk at St. John’s University (with Paul Devlin)
6. Interview with Russell Neff
7. Liner Notes to Revelations and Blues Suite
8. Murray’s Note on The Second Line and The Third Line
9. Foreword to The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing: The Life and Times of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards
10. Foreword to Mitchell & Ruff: An American Profile in Jazz
11. Interview with Paul Devlin
12. Murray’s 1958 Morocco Lecture Notes (translated by Lauren Walsh)
13. Biographical Sketch of Count Basie
14. Interview with Susan Page
15. Interview with Robert G. O’Meally
16. A Discussion of Duke Ellington with Loren Schoenberg and Stanley Crouch
17. Jazz: Notes Toward a Definition
Afterword: The Blues and Jazz as Aesthetic Statement
Greg Thomas
Appendix 1: Albert Murray’s Canon of Jazz Arrangements
Appendix 2: American Patterns and Variations on Rhythm and Tune: An Ellington-Strayhorn List

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