That Moaning Saxophone

That Moaning Saxophone : THe Six Brown Brothers and the Dawning of a Musical Craze

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Description

The saxophone, today an emblem of "cool" and the instrument most associated with jazz, was largely ignored in the U.S. for well over a half-century after its invention in France in 1838. Bringing this new sound to the American public was the Six Brown Brothers, one of the most famous musical acts on the stage in the early twentieth century. The group's quarter-century of ups and downs mirror the rise and fall of minstrelsy and vaudeville. With treks across the country and Europe, years in Broadway musical and comedy revues, and even time at the circus, the Six Brown Brothers embodied early American music. Rather than a note-by-note analysis of the music (the author is not a musicologist, but rather a cornet player, ragtime aficionado, and former philosophy professor), the book works with the music in its context, offering a cultural interpretation of blackface and minstrelsy, a history of the invention and evolution of the saxophone, and insight into the burgeoning American music/entertainment business and forgotten music traditions. While known among fans of early ragtime and saxophone players, Vermazen's rigorous archival research with primary sources repositions the Brothers in their rightful place as key players in the development of American music and popularizers of the saxophone. Through their live performances and groundbreaking recordings - the first of a saxophone ensemble - the Six Brown Brothers made this new and often derided instrument (once referred to as the "Siren of Satan") familiar to and loved by a wide audience, laying the groundwork for the saxophone soloists that have become the crowning symbol of jazz.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 152 x 234 x 20mm | 458.13g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195372182
  • 9780195372182

Review quote

"This excellent social history gives general readers and more focused music fans an insightful, well-written, and concise backdrop to the birth of the big band era and the modern popular music industry."--Library Journal"Vermazen...has written a thoughtful exploration of an instrument and a family, and in doing so, has managed to capture not only the birth of a musical craze, but a pivotal and turbulent moment in America's history...Vermazen's revival of the Six Brown Brothers after decades of obscurity will serveas a vital addition to the history of American popular music."--Publisher's Weekly"That Moaning Saxophone is an extraordinary romp through America's entertainment culture from the late 19th through early 20th century. Richly detailed and illustrated, it is exciting to read whether a saxophonist, music enthusiast or cultural historian. Vermazen breathes new life and meaning to theBrown Brothers music, as well as to the times that spawned their success. Following their career from origin to disbandment was compelling, exciting reading. That Moaning Saxophone immediately becomes a recommended text to my colleagues, and a required one for my students."--Dr. Paul Cohen, Manhattan School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Rutgers University"Without doubt this is one of the most important books on any aspect of twentieth century popular music ever published. Not only is it full of fascinating information, but it is eminently readable, and stands as a superb example of dedication to the subject on the part of the author."-- Brian Rust, author of several discographical reference books"A great book. Itis more than a biography and history of the Brown Brothers; it's also a vivid history of the minstrel, circus, and vaudeville worlds they inhabited." --Edward A. Berlin, author of King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era (Oxford) and Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History."I enjoyed [the book] very much, thought the author did a fine job, all around. The last part was of particular poignancy, tracing the slow but relentless decline of the Brown Brothers as their kind of show business was mercilessly, bit by bit, destroyed by the onslaught of modern mass media. Theevidence shows clearly that the people still thoroughly enjoyed the Brothers' act even into the 1930s, whenever they were still able to find venues, but the people had little say in the changing nature of show business--and they still don't! Obviously, the common acquired habit of excessive drinkingdidn't help any of the Brothers to make productive adjustments to the changing tides...washed-up show business people, old-time vaudevillians living in run-down hotels, dreaming of a comeback, if only they could get one big break...a classic image of the '30s, 40's 50's...A fine book."--R. Crumbshow more

About Bruce Vermazen

Bruce Vermazen is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley.show more

Table of contents

1. IOnce a Legend ; 2. Father and Sons: 1858-96 ; 3. Darkest America: 1895-99 ; 4. The Traveling City: 1899-1909 ; 5. Struggling into the Big Time: 1905-11 ; 6. Beating the Competition: 1909-12 ; 7. Primrose and Dockstader's Minstrels: 1912-14 ; 8. All American Vaudeville: 1914 ; 9. Three Years with Montgomery and Stone: 1914-17 ; 10. Jack O' Lantern: 1917-18 ; 11. On the Road with Jack: 1918-20 ; 12. Tip Top: 1920-23 ; 13. Something New and Different: 1923-24 ; 14. Between Showings: 1924-27 ; 15. Nothing Left to Do in show Biz; 1928-88 ; 16. Maria Brown's Quilt ; Discography ; Key to Abbreviations ; Notes ; Indexshow more

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