The Legacy of the Blues : A Glimpse into the Art and the Lives of Twelve Great Bluesmen. Samuel Charters is a musicographer, novelist, poet, and producer of jazz and blues records who for many years has also been seriously interested in every aspect of black music. His book, The Country Blues, was the first to be published on the subject.

He began making field recordings in the South in the early 1950s and has subsequently produced many recordings, both of … More

Born OTD in 1949, American soul and jazz poet, musician, & spoken-word performer, Gil Scott-Heron. This is a story about talented but tortured souls and a fractured father & son relationship that kept apart Gillie Heron, who was once hailed by ’50k supporters..as the greatest thing seen at Celtic Park since goalposts arrived’. And Gil Scott-Heron, who a newspaper in 1975 said was ‘one of the most interesting new leaders of the black cause today’.

Available in store and online.  

Born OTD in 1922, American novelist, Jack Kerouac. Considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his method of spontaneous prose. Thematically, his work covers topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel.

Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty, a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on … More

Born OTD in 1933, American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and activist in the civil rights movement, Nina Simone. Simone’s bearing and stage presence earned her the title “High Priestess of Soul”. She was a piano player, singer and performer, “separately, and simultaneously.” As a composer and arranger, Simone moved from gospel to blues, jazz, and folk, and to numbers with European classical styling.

‘From her raging, handwritten letters to late-night phone calls with David Bowie, this biography gets up close and personal with … More

Spike the Gypsy is a man for all seasons, that is, except for August Bank Holiday weekends. He arrives in London from Kingston, Jamaica at the beginning of the 1950’s & lives in a slum tenement owned by the infamous landlord Peter Rachman at St Stephens Gardens in Ladbroke Grove. The Gypsy knows people from all over London: musicians from jazz clubs, high class society women, politicians for whom he performs small services, drug dealers & whores. He scrapes a living by selling marijuana, shoplifting, cat burglary & intermittent bouts of gambling. Other prominent characters are the journalist Betty Hayes, who works on the Tottenham & Wood Green Journal; an ingenuous adolescent named Frank Stokes, who lives in Dalston, in Hackney; & a middle-aged man called Marvin Cohen, the owner of a second hand record shop in Lower Cut, Waterloo.

Their lives intertwine with that of the Gypsy.  Spanning more than 60 years, the book discusses the London riots that … More

Ted Gioia’s History of Jazz has been universally hailed as a classic-acclaimed by jazz critics and fans around the world. Now Gioia brings his magnificent work completely up-to-date, drawing on the latest research and revisiting virtually every aspect of the music, past and present. Gioia tells the story of jazz as it had never been told before, in a book that brilliantly portrays the legendary jazz players, the breakthrough styles, and the world in which it evolved.

Here are the giants of jazz and the great moments of jazz history-Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington at … More

Born OTD in 1928, Lennie Hibbert. A Jamaican musician who was bandmaster at the Alpha Boy’s School. Lennie worked as a live musician in jazz groups in the 1960s, and frequently worked with the Sound Dimension band, recording some of the best-known riddims for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.

In 1976 Lennie was awarded the Order of Distinction (O.D.) for his contribution to music on the island and for … More

Chamber Music, a “genre-defying” exploration of Wu Tang Clan’s seminal album “Enter the Wu Tang: 36 Chambers”, is an “exhilarating” and “innovative” non-fiction experimentalism about “one of the most important records of the 20th century”, according to the publisher. Porter added: “It will be a discursive, essayistic foray into and around the album, built of 36 chapters or ‘chambers’. It will be about everything from cult cinema to race relations; drug legislation to the history of jazz; Staten Island to Shaolin Samples.

Will is technically virtuosic and has the perfect blend of expertise and magpie-like enthusiasm to ensure this will be an … More

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass band that helped shape some of the world’s most beloved musical forms. Under a strict disciplinarian regime, ‘wayward ‘boys,’ many orphaned or from deeply troubled backgrounds and hailing from some of the toughest streets in the world, went on to become the backbone of Jamaican jazz, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dancehall, and dub.

Alpha Boys School: Cradle Of Jamaican Music takes a look at the lives of over 40 of these influential musicians … More