It’s less than three weeks until the November 17 release of my new book, Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s, and some great early feedback is coming in.
The book is based on a newly discovered archive of jazz club souvenir photographs and memorabilia. Many jazz clubs of the era had in-house photographers who would photograph patrons at their tables, develop them quickly in on-site darkrooms, and offer them to customers for a dollar at the end of the evening. Sometimes fans posed with the club’s performers, in a primordial version of today’s celebrity selfie. The book also explores how these clubs were among the earliest places Black and white people could gather during the Jim Crow era, on stage and in audiences.
The book features interviews with Quincy Jones and Sonny Rollins, who talk about playing these clubs in the 40s, legendary jazz critic Dan Morgenstern, who first went to New York clubs in 1947, musician/composter/educator Jason Moran, who speaks eloquently about what these images say to us today, and Pulitzer Prize winning critic Robin Givhan, who helps tease meaning from the photographs. And my friend Tom ‘Grover’ Biery put together a great ‘soundtrack’ playlist for those who’d like to listen as they look.
The book website SittinIn.com features sample pages, a playlist/soundtrack and much more information. In the meantime, here is some early feedback.
A great book…A story that needs to be told
Sittin’ In is in a word–exquisite. Meticulously laid out and extensively researched, it’s a deep dive into this amazing period of American cultural history. These venues and this amazing music were among the best vehicles for integration the country ever had. This was an America really making a go of bringing people together. It wasn’t legislation. It was Jazz. And it worked. We are incredibly lucky to have Sittin’ In.
Henry Rollins, Musician/writer/performer
Jeff Gold’s vivid and beautiful Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s captures that heady time through photographs, evocative memorabilia and incisive text, including interviews with Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins and scholar Dan Morgenstern. The images set the scene, but the text tells the history of the hopping clubs that populated the major cities of America during those thriving years.
-Los Angeles Times
Without a doubt a MAJOR contribution to jazz history in so many ways…truly a must-have for anyone for whom swing is the thing.
-Loren Schoenberg, National Jazz Museum in Harlem
Any research project of this depth and breadth deserves celebration…So valuable, and so browsable. With inspired, insightful interviews with Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Jason Moran and others.
-Ashley Kahn, Author of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album, and The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records