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As Serious As Your Life


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An essential masterpiece of jazz history by renowned photographer and music historian, with a new foreword by Richard Williams

About the Author

Val Wilmer is an internationally acclaimed photographer, journalist, author and black music historian who has been documenting African-American music since 1959. In that time she has interviewed and photographed almost every significant figure in post-war jazz, blues and R as a writer and historian, she has contributed to the Oxford Dictionary Of National Biography and the New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz. She lives in London.


This book saved me from giving up. Even though the jazz musicians Wilmer wrote about were mostly male, their approach to music making, their passion and their activism resonated with me and showed me a way to move forward musically -- Viv Albertine
The best of those books that found evidence of a black revolution or resurgence in the musical achievements of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and others * Guardian *
A very powerful and proud black book ... it sings the praise-song of the procreators of the new music and their direct descendants * Coda *
An exceptionally illuminating book on jazz now - and on music to come. Indeed, it's one of the relatively few indispensable books about America's classical music -- Nat Hentoff
A fascinating document, full of the energy of political struggle * Socialist Review *
A masterpiece of jazz history ... it charts the development of the new black music, delving deep into the lives, minds and politics of the people behind it * BBC Radio 3 *
Fascinating snapshot * The Wire *
A classic ... jam-packed with gems -- Cerys Matthews * BBC Radio 6Music *
A social history of the free jazz movement from its beginnings in the late 1950s ... as serious, and necessary, as ever * Village Voice *
One of the foremost chroniclers of African-American musical culture * Spectator *
One of the most important and exciting books ever written about jazz. It's essential * Stereogum *

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