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book review

Joe Albany

by Ron Sagye La Rue

LOW DOWN is exactly that!. Low Down, gritty,dirty and sad but with some wonderful moments. This book is about Joe Albany's daughter and the time she spent with him in Los Angeles of the late 1960's and early '70's. It focuses on pianist Albany's mental state,his habits (drugs) and relationships with women. The foreword written by A.J. begins with Joe Albany was a great jazz pianist. According to Charlie Parker and Lester Young and scores of others.I wish she would have mentioned the "scores of others". Possibly some quotes! Nontheless Albany was considered something of a legend in modern jazz an evidently one of the first important be bop pianists. Even though critics never acknowledge his talents in the begining of his career.

But this book is actually about his daughter and her life with her pianist father. And what a life it was. Joe Albany's life early on had trying times,he believed that his father moved from his New Jersey origins to Los Angeles because his high school sweetheart was a Jewish girl. That was 1941. In los Angeles young Joe met master musician Charlie Parker to dinner. Joe's father said:"Get that ni**er(racial slur)out of my house"

There are also light monents when Joe met A.J.'s future mother at a party given by another pianist Errol Garner. Another time Joe was playing at a club in Palm Springs,CA. And Frank Sinatra walked in--he listen for a couple of hours! And left a $100 dollar tip! An said: "Kid you got a great book'! Some of the grit young A.J. had to endure was a pervert clown who tried to get her to touch him inappropriately. There's enough debauchery and decadence to last two lifetimes in this autobiography/biography. Furthermore the meeting with Louis Armstrong is told. Light monents and heavy times encompass this life story.

A.J. writes with an in-your-face style. Take it or leave it that's MY STORY! And some of the metaphors she uses are universal. Speaking of her mother: Mom would appear and disappear like the sun on a cloudy day". A liberal use of foul language is employed the "F" word. If you like to read seedy stories--If you want to know the other side of Hollywood in the late '60's and '70's--If you want to know about L.A. in general(the various businesses,buildings etc. that made up L.A. all those years ago and the life of one jazz musician this is it! A.J. called them fairy tales from childhood. She could just as well subtitled nightmares from childhhood. A difficult read for some,but interesting and informative.

published 16.04.2005 2005 jazz news :: home page

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