Saturday, October 12, 2013

Piano Demon: The Globetrotting, Gin-soaked, Too-short Life of Teddy Weatherford, the Chicago Jazzman Who Conquered Asia

By Brendan L, Koerner

Genre: Jazz


Stride pianist Teddy Weatherford is barely a footnote in jazz history. He was acclaimed as a brilliant pianist yet he only made a handful of recordings which are close to impossible to find. Yet he was quite successful until his death from Cholera in 1945. His reason for success is what makes this 37 page Kindle Single, with a title almost as long as the book, interesting. He left America in the 20s and spend the rest of his life abroad, mainly in China and India thus setting the stage for mainly black jazz musicians who chose to work abroad where they were usually more revered and free from much of the racism they experienced in the states. Author Brendan L. Koerner does a good job in presenting the life of a man whose history cannot be that easy to research. Yet this short book doesn't really do justice to the subject. The author explains why Weatherford's talents were important in the history of jazz yet there is simply not enough space to fully explain how stride piano and Weatherford in particular fits into jazz history. However he is especially good at describing the smoldering atmosphere of China and India during the 20s and 30s and how it affects Weatherford's life abroad. But I wanted more sociological detail on why and how early jazz musicians, especially black musicians, chose a life of voluntary exile to enrich their music and their dreams. Nonetheless, I recommend this book to any one who is interested in jazz history.

Background CD: I don't have any Teddy Weatherford in my collection, so I settled for The Very Best of Fats Waller.

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