The Blue Devils have received very little attention from jazz historians, though the band members and the writer Ralph Ellison (who sometimes sat in with them) spoke with conviction about their sterling musicianship and their legendary ability to defeat all competitors in battles of the bands. Chronicling the ten years the band was officially together, Douglas Daniels delves into the potent social and cultural history of the 1920s and the Depression to show the era’s influence on the group’s founding as well as on the players’ careers.
The author’s passion for his subject and his skill as a historian and social scientist are manifest, making the book a rewarding read for anyone interested in how jazz really was in those days.–Stanley Naftaly, Santa Barbara Independent
“To explore the Devils’ enormous impact and their unique spirit of brotherhood, Daniels minutely records the lives of several key members, including Basie, Page, Smith, and the famous blues singer Jimmy Rushing. He also illuminates the vibrant community of black Oklahomans, completing this important chronicle in American music history.” -Publishers Weekly
“Daniels fills a distinct gap in jazz scholarship with this chronicle of the group’s ten-year existence (1923-33).” -Library Journal