Cover image for Jazz from the beginning
Jazz from the beginning
Bushell, Garvin, 1902-1991.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Da Capo Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xviii, 196 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, c1988, in series: Michigan American music series.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML419.B89 A3 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, and bassoonist Garvin Bushell (1902-1991) performed with many of the twentieth century's greatest jazz musicians--from Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller, and Cab Calloway to Eric Dolphy, Gil Evans, and John Coltrane--during his remarkable career that spanned from 1916 to the 1980s. Although best known as a jazz soloist and sideman, Bushell also played oboe and bassoon with symphony orchestras and was a highly regarded instructor of woodwinds. In Jazz from the Beginning , Bushell vividly recounts his musical experiences, featuring candid assessments of the legends with whom he performed as well as eye-opening accounts of the early days of jazz and the racism that he encountered on the road. Based on a series of interviews conducted by jazz scholar Mark Tucker, these memoirs provide a colorful account of Bushell's extraordinary life and career as well as an important record of seventy years of America's musical history.

Author Notes

Mark Tucker, professor of music at the College of William and Mary.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Bushell's story of some 70 years of music making is a fascinating record of one black musician's struggle to survive economically while reaching for the highest levels of musicianship. He tells his story with amazing detail and a willingness to let his opinions and feelings fall with a refreshing bluntness. Bushell's fights against irrational racial attitudes at home and abroad is a tribute to his determination to succeed and excel in his chosen profession. He worked with circus bands, jazz bands, dance and popular bands, symphonies, stage orchestras, and a lot of pickup groups. Bushell mastered virtually all the reed instruments, including clarinets and saxophones as well as the oboe and bassoon; and he has shared his knowledge as a teacher. His jazz recollections range from the traditional King Oliver to the avant-garde John Coltrane--he was inspired by the former as a teenager and played with the latter. Bushell is not a significant jazz musician and it is not the jazz elements that make this such a wonderful book. It is Bushell's musical odyssey and his ability to deal with the world that makes his story an inspiring one deserving attention well beyond the limits of the jazz audience. There is a Bushell discography that is notable because of his comments on the mostly old recordings. Although the title of this book is somewhat misleading, the book itself leads down some remarkable paths. -C. M. Weisenberg, University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
Chapter 1 Springfieldp. 4
Chapter 2 Early Years in New Yorkp. 15
Chapter 3 Ethel Waters and the Black Swan Troubadorsp. 31
Chapter 4 On the Vaudeville Circuitp. 41
Chapter 5 Sam Wooding and the Nest Clubp. 49
Chapter 6 On the Road with Chocolate Kiddies in Europe and South Americap. 54
Chapter 7 Back Home Againp. 72
Chapter 8 Tough Guys and High Societyp. 77
Chapter 9 With Fess, Fat Man, and Fletcherp. 81
Chapter 10 Cab Callowayp. 88
Chapter 11 Chick Webbp. 99
Chapter 12 On My Ownp. 105
Chapter 13 Settling Downp. 116
Chapter 14 Rex Stewart and the Fletcher Henderson Reunionp. 121
Chapter 15 From Dixieland to Dolphyp. 124
Chapter 16 A Trip to Africap. 130
Chapter 17 Puerto Ricop. 136
Chapter 18 Las Vegasp. 140
Appendix A A Garvin Bushell Discography with Selected Comments and Identification of Soloistsp. 145
Appendix B A Glossary of Musicians and Performersp. 177
Indexp. 187