(Brick’s Picks, LA Weekly, 2006)
And we’ve been hipped to a couple books that’d make some cool xmas gifts ideas. Bari blowing/beatnik looking/mystery writing Skoot Larson’s The No News is Bad News Blues is a fun read; his trumpet playing, hard drinking, weed smoking, record collecting accidental detective Lars Lyndstrom stumbling into a terrorist plot. Fans of Bill Moody’s Evan Horn books will dig it. Moody’s tighter and leaner, but Larson’s storytelling is like a free ranging live jazz session. And if you know San Pedro (or Oslo) at all you will love the settings. Peter Levinson’s Tommy Dorsey: Livin’ in a Great Big Way is a terrific read. The Big Band Era was a whole ‘nother universe, and don’t fall for the “innocent times” stuff our parents/grandparents dropped on us. These guys lived hard, played hard, worked hard, fought hard and (in Dorsey’s case) died hard. The book bear up the legend: T.D. was not an easy man to know, let alone play for (or worse yet, be married to.) But he sure could play some pretty trombone. Those were amazing times, with the music, the arrangers, the tours, the War, the movie stars, the kids, the dancing, the partying, and the segregation and desperate poverty that so many players, white and black, Irish and Jew, rose from. Levinson’s energetic prose brings the era vividly back to life.