‘Harlem Jazz Adventures’ - One Of The Three Best Jazz Books Of 2012
"Harlem Jazz Adventures - A European Baron's Memoir, 1936-1969" by Danish Baron Timme Rosenkrantz, was named one of the three best jazz books of 2012 by Denver-based JazzHistoryOnline.com.
Visit www.jazzbaron.com and watch an 8-minute live video of co-author Fradley Garner reading the Mezz Mezzrow chapter, with a "walking bass" accompaniment by the late Denmark Rhythmic Music Conservatory rector and composer Erik Moseholm.
About The Book
"Harlem Jazz Adventures – A European Baron's Memoir, 1934-1969"
Timme Rosenkrantz, the author, was a young Danish baron, son of a distinguished family, and the first European journalist to cover New York's blossoming Harlem music scene during the period when jazz was urban America's popular music.
Baron Rosenkrantz was a dapper, 24-year-old redhead tipping his hat when he arrived by steamship in 1934 in New York— and a portly, ailing 58 when he died there in 1969, after some 20 voyages to his music mecca. During those years, he befriended, and was befriended by, nearly the entire Manhattan jazz community.
Long out of print, the original Danish paperback has 25 chapters and 127 pages, as opposed to the new Scarecrow Press hardback's 36 chapters and 329 pages. A number of photographs in the book were taken in Manhattan by the author with a Brownie box camera.
The big-band era was benevolently ruled by a self-appointed royal house. Benny Goodman, the "King of Swing, " had several rivals for the jazz throne. Edward Kennedy Ellington was the undisputed Duke, while nobody challenged the title of Count. That belonged to the bandleader Bill Basie. Duke and Timme, who always came to his concerts, were close friends for decades.
Singer Peggy Lee was the Queen, and her fellow-vocalist, Billie Holiday, was Lady Day. She invited Rosenkrantz home, and quickly became fond of him.
Louis Armstrong refused to be crowned, preferring to be called — and calling others — "Pops." That was how Timme and Louis addressed each other.
Rosenkrantz's paperback was adapted into English and edited by Fradley Garner, an American freelance writer based near Copenhagen, who met Rosenkrantz toward the end of the author's life. Garner worked from the original Danish book and an unpublished typescript, a free translation by Rosenkrantz and his life companion Inez Cavanaugh, a black Harlem journalist and singer.
One of many additions to the book is an introduction by Dan Morgenstern, a leading jazz historian and until recently director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Morgenstern was a young journalist when he met the author.
The "Blue Baron, " Harry Freidman, led an American dance orchestra during the big-band era in the 1940s and early 1950s. He liked to dismiss it as a "Mickey Mouse band."
Rosenkrantz, however, was a certified baron, who traced his noble roots back to the Rosencrantz (spelled with a "c" in England) of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, in Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
Living musicians and jazz writers in America and Europe, including three who knew the Danish author in the first half of the 20th century, have warmly endorsed his book.
A wintry Copenhagen day in front of the Diplom record shop. Timme emerges from his brother's 1920s rattletrap to deliver an armful of his Baronet records. He reveals a box of Milk-Bone dog biscuits. Those tasty treats were good for your teeth. A decade later, in New York, he introduced me to Lionel Hampton and Billie Holiday and others great and ordinary. Timme was so important to my career. This book is long overdue—thank you, Fradley, for so lovingly reframing Timme's words.
Chris Albertson, author
Bessie Smith: Empress of the Blues (1975) Bessie: Revised and Expanded Edition (2005), http://stomp-off.blogspot.com(references to Timme)
I am overjoyed that my happy memories of Jazz Baron Timme Rosenkrantz are kept alive here; Timme with his joyful enthusiasm for jazz and jazz musicians, especially my own personal hero, Stuff Smith.
Svend Asmussen (age 95 in 2011)
Danish jazz violinist and composer
Timme Rosenkrantz is one of those people we jazz fans have heard of all our lives, but never knew much about. Now, thanks to Fradley Garner's wonderful edition of these memoirs, Timme comes back to life, and I do mean life. He says he was there when the word "jitterbug" was coined: his stories, his good humor, and all the great personalities he knew, just never stop. This must be what the Golden Age of Jazz was like.
Author and cataloger
The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music(1989, 1998), Billie Holiday: Wishing on the Moon (1994, 2002), The Rise And Fall Of Popular Music (1995), All Or Nothing At All: A Life of Frank Sinatra (1997),
Now at http://www.donaldclarkemusicbox.com
"I'm just a little layman with an ear for music and a heart that beats for jazz" is how Timme Rosenkrantz modestly describes himself. But his ear and his heart unerringly propelled him into the orbits of Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Art Tatum, Fats Waller, W.C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Bud Powell, and dozens of other jazz notables. Harlem Jazz Adventures is an insightful and delightfully witty account of jazz people and places, written by one who experienced them firsthand.
Director, Louis Armstrong House Museum
Queens College, CUNY
Frad Garner's translation of Timme Rosenkrantz's book is a delightful read. Rosenkrantz came to New York in search of jazz at a perfect time, and his stories of his adventures on the jazz scene are fresh and funny, told with the innocence of a kid in a candy store. If you want to know what it was like to be in Harlem when the giants of jazz walked there, this is the book for you.
Bassist and author, Jazz Anecdotes
Timme Rosenkrantz gives us a lively and very personal insight into the lives and working conditions of Swing and early Bebop musicians he befriended. Could one reason he was able to get so close to so many be that he was a Dane, an outsider? He tells stories about people he loves and respects, always with a smile. Yet we also learn about some hard realities of the jazz life. This is a valuable memoir for jazz lovers and specialists, translated and edited by Fradley Garner with a feeling for the author's mission and gentle humor.
Dr. Wolfram Knauer, Director
Harlem Jazz Adventuresis an intimate slice of lived jazz history, told by a born storyteller, from a perspective quite different from that of contemporary writings about jazz. This is not the work of a jazz critic. The writer despised music analysis. Timme Rosenkrantz was a jazz advocate, a man who listened and wrote, often tongue in cheek, but always from the heart.
Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies
Timme Rosenkrantz is instantly likeable in this delightful memoir. No wonder he could befriend everyone he met as he explored the Harlem jazz world in the 1930s-1960s. That world comes alive in Fradley Garner's labor-of-love English translation, in language that's flowing and spiced with Timme's dry wit. Here you'll find the dance halls, rent parties, jazz clubs, after-hours joints, and the greatest musicians of jazz's golden age — along with bartenders, bouncers, club owners, and the colorful gangsters on St. Nicholas Avenue. Sit back and bask in "Harlem Jazz Adventures."
Harlem Jazz Adventures drew me into a world I’ve only imagined. The passion and joy of these memoirs is irresistible. Suddenly, all the musicians and clubs I've heard about became three-dimensional, and I couldn't stop reading. Each chapter is a play within a play. From Fats Waller to Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong to Benny Carter, the Savoy Ballroom to 52nd Street! Timme Rosenkrantz was an outsider who fast became an insider. He takes me into the dance halls and clubs, and what a thrill! Thanks to Mr. Garner for bringing this most important book into the English-speaking world.
Contemporary jazz & blues vocalist
My husband Billy and I were in the Dorsey Brothers band, so we were part of the Swing era. We knew and performed with others that Timme Rosenkrantz writes about. I didn’t know Billie Holiday, but Timme did, and he takes you into the room where she worked her magic on him and everybody there. Jazz history? Here it is, and I promise you’ll feel like you're living it. There is chapter after chapter filled with revealing detail and fascinating stories. You won’t put this book down any time soon.
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