Born OTD in 1922, American novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac. 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. “A young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty, a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream..”

A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing … More

Born OTD in 1933, Eunice Kathleen Waymon, AKA Nina Simone. Simone was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B and gospel. ‘From her raging, handwritten letters to late-night phone calls with David Bowie, this biography gets up close and personal with the tempestuous Nina Simone’

Drawing on glimpses into previously unseen diaries, rare interviews and childhood journals, and with the aid of her daughter, What … More

Born OTD in 1931, American novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor, Toni Morrison. The majority of the narrative takes place in Harlem during the 1920s; however, as the pasts of the various characters are explored, the narrative extends back to the mid-19th-century American South. The novel deliberately mirrors the music of its title, with various characters “improvising” solo compositions that fit together to create a whole work. The tone of the novel also shifts with these compositions, from bluesy laments to up beat, sensual ragtime.

The novel also utilizes the call-and-response style of jazz music, allowing the characters to explore the same events from different … More

Lester Young fading away in a hotel room; Charles Mingus storming down the streets of New York on a too-small bicycle; Thelonius Monk creating his own private language on the piano… In eight poetically charged vignettes, Geoff Dyer skilfully evokes the embattled lives of the players who shaped modern jazz. He draws on photos and anecdotes, but music is the driving force of But Beautiful and Dyer brings it to life in luminescent and wildly metaphoric prose that mirrors the quirks, eccentricity, and brilliance of each musician’s style.

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“I’ve been told that no one sings the word ‘hunger’ like I do. Or the word ‘love’.”Lady Sings the Blues is the inimitable autobiography of one of the greatest icons of the twentieth century. Born to a single mother in 1915 Baltimore, Billie Holiday had her first run-in with the law at aged 13. But Billie Holiday is no victim. Her memoir tells the story of her life spent in jazz, smoky Harlem clubs and packed-out concert halls, her love affairs, her wildly creative friends, her struggles with addiction and her adventures in love. Billie Holiday is a wise and aphoristic guide to the story of her unforgettable life.

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Born OTD in 1928, Jamaican musician who was bandmaster at the Alpha Cottage School, and also a vibraphone virtuoso, recording two albums for Studio One, Lennie Hibbert. At the age of eight he began attending the Alpha School, where he joined the school band as a drummer. He 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.

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass … More

Before I left the valley I thought everywhere was like this. Then I went away for 40 years and when I came back I realized that nowhere was like this. ‘Laurie Lee walked out of his childhood village one summer morning to travel the world, but he was always drawn back to his beloved Slad Valley, eventually returning to make it his home. In this portrait of his Cotswold home, Laurie Lee guides us through its landscapes, and shares memories of his village youth – from his favourite pub, The Woolpack, to winter skating on the pond, the church through the seasons, local legends, learning the violin and playing jazz records in the privy on a wind-up gramophone.

A moving, never-before-published portrait of the landscape that shaped the life of Laurie Lee, the beloved author of Cider With … More

Will Ashon tells, in 36 interlinked ‘chambers’, the story of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and how it changed the world. As unexpected and complex as the album itself, Chamber Music ranges from provocative essays to semi-comic skits, from deep scholarly analysis to satirical celebration, seeking to contextualise, reveal and honour this singularly composite work of art. From the FBI’s war on drugs to the porn theatres of 42nd street, from the history of jazz to the future of politics, Chamber Music is an explosive and revelatory new way of writing about music and culture.

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How does one pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest? The seminal rap group brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces such as The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. Seventeen years after their last album, they resurrected themselves with an intense, socially conscious record, We Got It from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service, which arrived when fans needed it most, in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib digs into the group’s history and draws from his own experience to reflect on how its distinctive sound resonated among fans like himself. The result is as ambitious and genre-bending as the rap group itself.

Abdurraqib traces the Tribe’s creative career, from their early days as part of the Afrocentric rap collective known as the … More

Following last year’s acclaimed Jazz On The Corner compilation 2019 again sees Martin Freeman team up with Acid Jazz’s renowned head honcho Eddie Piller to present a veritable and personal collection of tracks. Compiled from the pair’s personal favourites, be it hearing on the radio, word of mouth or Dj-ing – Soul On The Corner represents the entire gamut of soul from the sixties and seventies right up to the present as illustrated by the likes of Tommy McGhee and the Acid Jazz recent signee Laville.

Opening with the inimitable Bobby Womack and How Could You Break My Heart, as Piller explains; “I never tire of … More