Chuck Denison

The Great American Songbook - The Stories Behind The Standards

Robert D Reed Publishers

ISBN 1-931741-42-5

As a music enthusiast and a radio programmer, this book is the perfect tool. I could not wait to tell some of the stories about the music I love so dearly on my radio show.

I am sure we have all wondered how the writers of our favorite tunes came up with the ideas, well Dr. Chuck Denison, writer, speaker, consultant and musician, did the research and presented it in an easy and fun to read format. It is only 111 pages and can be read in one setting and used in many ways.

Along with the stories comes some historical information about the greats that created the songs, such as how Duke Ellington met Bill Strayhorn; why Billy wrote "Take the A Train;" how John Hammond introduced Charlie Christian to a reluctant Benny Goodman and Charlie took the opportunity to amaze Goodman. Charlie could play anything on his guitar that Goodman could make up and play on his clarinet, but ..."when they reversed roles, with Goodman trying to echo Charlie's lines, well the "King of Swing" had some woodshedding to do."

Some of the stories included in the book are about: "Someone to Watch Over Me" George and Ira Gershwin; "Giant Steps" John Coltrane; "Ornithology" Charlie Parker, Benny Harris; "Kind of Blue" Miles Davis; "Strange Fruit" Abel Meeropol and Billie Holiday; "God Bless the Child" Billie Holiday; "Take Five" Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck, just to name a few.

Dr. Chuck Denison filled a gap in my library and gave me a very useful tool.

by Haybert King Houston

Jazz Now Interactive September 2004 Vol 14 No. 5 - Table of Contents

Copy right: Jazz Now, September 2004 Vol 14 No. 5

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