Before Ralph Ellison became one of America’s greatest writers, he was a musician and a student of jazz, writing widely on his favorite music for more than fifty years. Now, jazz authority Robert O’Meally has collected the very best of Ellison’s inspired, exuberant jazz writings in this unique anthology.
Ralph Ellison (1914–1994) was born in Oklahoma and trained as a musician at Tuskegee Institute from 1933 to 1936, at which time a visit to New York and a meeting with Richard Wright led to his first attempts at fiction. Invisible… More about Ralph Ellison
“No Ellison fan or jazz aficionado should ignore this book.” —Publishers Weekly
“Most of us just listen to it, but Ellison truly inhabited jazz. Lovingly collected here for the first time are the crème de la crème of his music pieces. . . . Prose rarely resonates like this.” —Library Journal
“The nonfiction pieces repackaged here include considerations of blues, gospel, and flamenco. . . . As the slips of fiction and correspondence gathered here testify, all Ellison writing is jazz writing.” —Entertainment Weekly
“[Ellison] may have stopped playing jazz, but he never stopped celebrating it throughout his long literary career.” —The Washington Post
“Whether he is writing a homage to Ellington on his seventieth birthday, analyzing how the blues infuses Richard Wright’s autobiography or reviewing recordings of Mahalia Jackson, Ellison is insightful while keeping the focus on what role the music plays in American culture.” —The New York Times Book Review