Rick Martin loved music and the music loved him. He could pick up a tune so quickly that it didn’t matter to the Cotton Club boss that he was underage, or to the guys in the band that he was just a white kid. He started out in the slums of LA with nothing, and he ended up on top of the game in the speakeasies and nightclubs of New York. But while talent and drive are all you need to make it in music, they aren’t enough to make it through a life.
Dorothy Baker’s Young Man with a Horn is widely regarded as the first jazz novel, and it pulses with the music that defined an era. Baker took her inspiration from the artistry—though not the life—of legendary horn player Bix Beiderbecke, and the novel went on to be adapted into a successful movie starring Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day.
About the Author
Gary Giddins is the Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the City University of New York. He was the Village Voice jazz columnist for over 30 years and remains a preeminent jazz critic who received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, and the Bell Atlantic Award for Visions of Jazz: The First Century in 1998. His other books include Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903 1940, which won the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award and the ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Sound Research; Weatherbird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century; Faces in the Crowd; Natural Selection; Warning Shadows; and biographies of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. He has won an unparalleled six ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Peabody Award in Broadcasting.
“Young Man with a Horn is a great book, beautifully conceived and masterfully written. There is little else that can be said in praise of any book.” – New York Amsterdam News
“The Young Man with a Horn is the story of a musician, a swing trumpeter who lives only for the pounding rhythms in his blood. Yet despite its subject matter, it is not the fragment of fervid impressionism that the jazz age used to produce; despite the irrationalism of swing, the book itself is a clear-minded, informed, coldly rational study of a swing-addict.” –The New York Times
“Young Man with a Horn is practically perfect. You feel, and feel deeply, the atmosphere Baker describes, the music Rick and his friends make, the fanatic devotion of artists who can’t take their music or leave it but must take it and take it hard. Between the lines Baker somehow gets a great many true things said about American life, its tempo, its elements of frustration, its unique and unquestioning vitality.” —Clifton Fadiman, The New Yorker
“I first read this book when I was twelve. I loved it because it did not condescend or sugarcoat. It took me inside the music—it made me want to find an instrument and learn it.” —Jesse Kornbluth