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Book Shelf Reviews

Back Beats and Rim Shots

I would like to recommend a particularly interesting book for drummers and percussionists. It’s called ‘Back Beats and Rim Shots’ and it’s the Johnny Blowers story written by Warren Vaché. It’s one of the studies in jazz, No. 25 in fact, published by The Scarecrow Press of London and the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University of New Jersey. It’s particularly interesting to read Jonhny Blowers life story as he started out in the Swing Era, playing with big and small bands and travelling constantly throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s. Later on in his career he became a very respected session musician in New York. Also, became very adept at playing the mallet instruments, vibraphone, xylophone and timpani and so, over a period of time, became a very ‘in demand’ studio player.

Did they mention the Music?

Autobiography of Henry Mancini

Over the last few months I have been reading a number of books which followers of this site may find interesting. They are mostly, at the moment, biographies and will add a lot to one’s understanding of the music industry because they are the biographies of many important and significant figures in certainly the late 20th Century music scene.

The first book is “Did they mention the Music?” which is the autobiography of Henry Mancini, the well-known composer for films and television. It is co-written with the song-writer and lyricist Gene Lees and is a very interesting and fulsome account of Henry Mancini’s life, from his very earliest humble beginnings in Pennsylvania*, up until the time of his lamented passing.

Published by Cooper Square Press of New York
ISBN number: 0-815-1175-8.

A Practical Guide to Percussion Terminology

Another book which I have enjoyed dipping into in recent months is called ‘A Practical Guide to Percussion Terminology by Russ Girsberger. It is edited by Anthony Cironi.

I particularly enjoyed this book. It is very much a dip-in book and it’s a very good dictionary of percussion terms from foreign language into English and also there is some very sensible advice about the interpretation of different foreign terms related to specific composer’s works.

It is a comparatively slim volume but I would say, almost essential for any budding percussionist.

This is a highly recommended text and it is something that I think every aspiring drummer and percussionist should have on their book shelf.

Published by Meredith Music.
ISBN number : 1-57463-079-8
Publishers price in the UK is £23

September in the Rain

Another book I would like to recommend is called ‘September in the Rain’ The Life of Nelson Riddle.

Those of us of a certain age group will be familiar with the arranging skills of Nelson Riddle. He almost single-handedly saved Frank Sinatra’s career in the mid 1950’s and also contributed hugely to the careers of Nat King Cole, Ella FitzGerald, Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis and in more recent years, Linda Ronstadt and Kiri te Kanawa, but he is probably best remembered for his work with Frank Sinatra.

Ulanberg Audio and Score Series of Musical Scores

I would like to tell you a little bit about something which I have come across in recent months which is a real boon to any student of music and that is the Ulanberg Audio and Score Series of Musical Scores which are available for the price of £5.99. Now, for your money, what you get is a complete orchestra score, plus a CD of the piece. Now, I only wish that publishers had done things like this when I was a student because if you are trying to learn repertoire, one of the easiest ways to do it is to sit down and listen to a piece with the score and that is exactly what Ulanberg have finally done.

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