Entertainment Books:

Leader of the Band

The Life of Woody Herman


Paperback / softback

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Leader of the Band by Gene Lees
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Woody Herman was a central figure in the development of jazz - a musical giant whose career spanned the big band and bebop eras. Gene Lees has spent close to a decade interviewing Herman's friends and fellow musicians, to produce a portrait of the triumph and tragedy of a life in jazz. This biography follows his rise to prominence in the 1930s as leader of "the band that plays the blues", through success in the 1940s , when bebop rapidly developed, to the ultimate tragedy that broke Herman's career - when his manager diverted the band's withholding tax to settle gambling debts. Along the way, Lees brings to life the weary routine of performing on the road, with its constant one-night engagements and unending travel, broken only by brief stays at home and moments of camaraderie.

Author Biography

Gene Lees is the author of many books on jazz and popular music, including Waiting for Dizzy, and Cats of Any Color. He was formerly an editor of Downbeat, and is the founder of Jazzletter. The legendary Dizzy Gillespie called Lees `the glowing jewel of jazz' for his perceptive writing about the music.
Release date NZ
January 1st, 1998
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
16 pp halftones
Oxford University Press
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