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City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis, 1895 - 1973 by Dennis Owsley

City of Gabriels reveals the wonders that make up the jazz history of St. Louis, Missouri from the years 1895 to 1973. The book contains a fine foreword by Clark Terry. The book is published in collaboration between Reddy Press, and the Sheldon Concert Hall and the Sheldon Art Galleries at St. Louis, Missouri.

Dennis C. Owsley is an engaging writer, his style and approach immensely enjoyable to the reader, and his research given in an open, sharing manner. City of Gabriels is both entertaining and educational. Dennis C. Owsley has the popular "Jazz Unlimited" radio show and has produced a weekly show since 1983. His photographs are internationally-known and in 2002 the Sheldon Art Galleries of St. Louis, Missouri included his work in the exhibition "Festival: Jazz!" City of Gabriels is an oral history that is the authors summation of twenty years into the intricate jazz history of St. Louis Missouri.

An insightful well-written book it gives the reader an accurate look into the world of jazz in St. Louis. The photography in the book is topnotch and fits in nicely with the text.

The material covered includes "The Pre-Jazz Era (1895 - 1919)" "The Riverboats and the 1920s (1919 - 1929)" "St. Louis in the 1930s: The Plantation Club the Unions and the Decline of the Riverboats (1930 - 1939)" "The War Years: Jimmy Blanton Miles Davis's St. Louis Years and the Inception of Jazz Radio in St. Louis (1939 - 1949)" "The Polarization of St. Louis Jazz: Traditional Jazz and BAG (1968 - 1973)" followed by an epilogue appendix ("Charter Members of the St. Louis Jazz Club") and a comprehensive index.

To the jazz reading audience this is a gem of a fine book and for readers at large it will surprise them with the true importance of St. Louis Missouri as a vibrant center for jazz musical expression. There are many many jazz musicians covered and the author gives an accurate biography of each with accompanying photo where possible. The reader will find such musicians as Thomas Million Turpin Scott Joplin Fate Marable Pee Wee Russell Gene Rodemich Frank Trumbauer Red McKenzie Charles Creath Dewey Jackson Elijah "Lige" Shaw" Jesse Johnson Harold "Shorty" Baker Eddie Randle Clark Terry Druie Bess Don Stovall Floyd Smith Karl George Forrest Crawford Leroy Harris Jr. Talmadge "Tab" Smith" Gordon JenkinsJimmy Blanton Miles Davis Ernie Wilkins George Hudson Singleton Palmer Jimmy Forrest John Mixon Chris Woods Oliver Nelson Sammy Gardner Jeanne Trevor Clea Bradford Jeter ThompsonJean Kittrell Carolbeth True David Hines Lester Bowie Oliver Lake J. D. Parran Hamiet Bluiett Baikida E. J. Carroll Julius Hemphill among others.

City of Gabriels is a feast for readers both in text and photography. The book comes alive and entertains! This is the type of historical reference which reads like a mystery novel one incident and one character leading to the next until there is an entire volume of fascinating incidents and characters compiled into one large reading pleasure. When it comes time to giving out awards to exceptional jazz books City of Gabriels and its story of St. Louis Missouri jazz should win a big one!

Congratulations to Dennis Owsley on a well-written and entertaining look at jazz in St. Louis Missouri. Highly recommended. A great book to have in the public library too! Two words sum up City of Gabriels: superb and imaginative.

If you are looking for a perfect gift for a friend this is the one. City of Gabriels is a memorable reading experience. As a look at jazz it is a special and one of a kind book. Excellent!

Additional Info

  • Book Title: City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis, 1895 - 1973
  • Author: Dennis Owsley
  • Publisher: Reedy Press
  • Year Published: 2006
  • Book Type:: Non-Fiction
  • ISBN: 1933370041
  • Rating: Five Stars
  • Number of Pages: 200
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