Welcome to a new feature for the Beast where we keep abreast (or try to anyway) of recent interesting and eclectic new music books. And wow, we're already behind by a month: Probably the most eclectic would be Stephen Coates' X-Ray Audio: The Strange Story of Soviet Music 'On the Bone', which details the bootlegging of illegal music in Soviet Russia on "bone records" (old x-ray cells, pictured above). From the free world side of the collectors' equation comes Rashod Ollison's Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl and you can read an excerpt here. A collection of essays on Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique examine the multidisciplinary effects of global power on music. First published in France in 1998, Michel Chion's Sound: An Acoulogical Treatise examines the holistic effects of sound on our daily lives. In Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941, Daryl Holter and William Deverell plumb the little-known SoCal years of folk music's original ramblin' man as he crashed on Skid Row, hosted his own radio show, and even wrote a newspaper column called "Woody Sez." (Go here for excerpts.)
January, if bad for musician deaths, was also a good month for books on jazz and improvised music: Garrison Fewell dialogues with the likes of Baikida Carroll, Myra Melford, Nicole Mitchell, William Parker and Henry Threadgill in Outside Music, Inside Voices: Dialogues on Improvisation and the Spirit of Creative Music; in anticipation of the new Don Cheadle-directed Milers Davis biopic, Bob Gluck follows up his 2013 book on Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi band with The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles; and Rashida Braggs examines the lives of America's jazz expatriates in Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris. Mark Harvey unearths a vital '70s jazz underground in The Boston Creative Music Scene, 1970-1983, a book with an accompanying CD from crate-diggers Cultures of Soul. (Read an excerpt here.)
Things get even better the second week of February: within two days comes Kris Gabbard's Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus (excerpted here) and Alan Light's tie-in to the Oscar-nominated documentary What Happened Miss Simone?: A Biography. (Read a story behind the film-to-book project here.) Lynn Darroch examines a vegetation-hidden jazz history in the land of grunge and tribal punk rock in Rhythm in the Rain: Jazz in the Pacific Northwest. (Read an interview with the author here.) One of our fave jazz writers, Ben Ratliff, faces the labyrinthine task of listening to music in the digital age in Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty. (Read an interview with the author here.) Later in the month comes NYRB Classic's reprint of Really the Blues, Chicago clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow's wild 1946 autobiography. Cherry Red Records, who just released a 5-disc Shoegaze retrospective, also has a publishing wing that this week dropped Ian Shirley's Never Known Questions: Five Decades of the Residents about the seminal giant-eyeballed misteriosos from the Bay Area. For those who like their country music with a healthy side of postmodern gender politics can revel in Country Boys and Redneck Women: New Essays in Gender and Country Music, edited by Diane Pecknold and Kristine M. McCusker as a follow-up to their previous volume from 2004. Alan Harper looks for the next blues savior in Waiting for Buddy Guy: Chicago Blues at the Crossroads. German photographer Bernd Jonkmanns' mammoth Record Stores practically sells itself in its subtitle: "A Tribute to Record Stores. 400 Pages, 190 Stores, 36 Countries, 5 Continents." And Michael Benson answers the question -- which we thought was answered by the 45 books about this group that came out in the last year, not to mention the upcoming National-curated tribute box set -- Why the Grateful Dead Still Matter.