The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music

By Dunstan Prial
Read by Ray Porter

12.35 Hours 01/24/2011 unabridged
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The son of a Vanderbilt heiress, John Hammond listened to jazz records with his parents’ servants, went to Harlem as a teenager, and became a regular in clubs where very few white faces ever appeared. Taking a little family money, Hammond went across racial lines in pre–World War II America and came back with recordings of some of the greatest jazz musicians in history. By age twenty-two, he had convinced Benny Goodman to integrate his band and made his first big discovery: Billie Holiday. Later, as jazz gave way to pop and rock, Hammond championed Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan in his life’s extraordinary second act. In Dunstan Prial’s hands, Hammond’s biography is the story of American popular music since the 1930s, a tale of a man at the center of things, with his ears wide open.

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Summary

Summary

The son of a Vanderbilt heiress, John Hammond listened to jazz records with his parents’ servants, went to Harlem as a teenager, and became a regular in clubs where very few white faces ever appeared. Taking a little family money, Hammond went across racial lines in pre–World War II America and came back with recordings of some of the greatest jazz musicians in history. By age twenty-two, he had convinced Benny Goodman to integrate his band and made his first big discovery: Billie Holiday. Later, as jazz gave way to pop and rock, Hammond championed Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan in his life’s extraordinary second act.

In Dunstan Prial’s hands, Hammond’s biography is the story of American popular music since the 1930s, a tale of a man at the center of things, with his ears wide open.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Dunstan Prial has conducted some solid research…He has fashioned the diverse strands of Mr. Hammond’s life into a very readable narrative.” New York Times
“[Prial’s] smart use of music histories, jazz autobiographies, and Hammond’s own Downbeat and Melody Maker writings results in an impressive and authoritative text. Moreover, Prial’s insights into Hammond’s youth and two marriages transform his work from the tale of a jazz buff with money into an engaging study of a man with two obsessions—‘making music and promoting social reform.’” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A fast-moving and very readable biography.” New York Sun
“Prial writes with knowledge and feeling.” Washington Post
“Prial tells this man’s story exceptionally well, drawing on his thorough research. He brings Hammond to life in clear, insightful prose and places him and figures such as Dylan, Franklin, and Springsteen in the proper historical context. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.” Library Journal (starred review)
“An elegant, winning biography.” Boston Globe
 “Gratifying reading for American pop mavens.” Booklist
“Prial’s in-depth examination of American music impresario John Hammond is narrated by Ray Porter in an authoritative, forthright, and courtly manner…Assuming the tone of an insider, Porter is a masterful narrator whose bold, clear voice is especially appropriate for the material. Listeners will likely find themselves seeking out the great American music that is at the heart of this biography.” AudioFile
“An elegantly written, substantive, and exciting biography…As smooth and beguiling in its flow as one of John Hammond’s ‘look Ma, no hands’ recording sessions.” Los Angeles Times
“Informative, compelling, and gleefully, unapologetically tendentious.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Dunstan Prial

Dunstan Prial covered the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for the Associated Press and the 1990s stock market boom for Dow Jones. He lives in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Drama/Performing Arts
Runtime: 12.35
Audience: Adult
Language: English