Recipes and Remembrances from a Jazz Life

ART-BLAKEY-Newport_sm"If the dead be truly dead, why should they still be walking in my heart?"

          - Shoshone medicine man

The person who has influenced my life most profoundly is Art Blakey. Period. Twenty years after his death, he still strides through my heart.

I met this stout, short-armed drummer with the graying Afro and deeply lined face at Slug's, a jazz club in the East Village in August, 1968. I was 28. He was 48 and still leading the Jazz Messengers with the same vigor he had when he started the band in 1955.

Long before cancer destroyed him with so much vengeance, Art asked me to write his biography. He reminisced on planes, in bed, at the kitchen table, on the toilet, and I took notes. When he died in 1990, so did my will to finish the book.

Then finally somewhere along the line, I realized I was lugging around in my mind the jumbled fragments of this memoir, and I began to sort out the pieces and put them on paper. ART BLAKEY COOKIN' AND JAMMIN' is told through photos from the family album with recipes and remembrances. It's a piece of twine that binds past, present, and future but not without the pain of an occasional rope burn.

Garden District Bookshop