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Date: Apr 26, 2010
Hofstra English Professor Joseph McLaren Co-Authors Book with Jazz Great Jimmy Heath: "I Walked with Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath" (Temple UP, 2010)
Nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association for “Best Book About Jazz”
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY … I Walked with Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath, co-authored by Hofstra University English Professor Joseph McLaren, has just been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) for “Best Book About Jazz.” The book, published in January 2010, features a foreword by Bill Cosby and an introduction by Wynton Marsalis.
Saxophonist Jimmy Heath, NEA Jazz Master, composer of more than 100 jazz pieces, three-time Grammy nominee, and performer on more than 125 albums, has earned a place of honor in the history of jazz. Over his long career, Heath knew many jazz giants, such as Charlie Parker, and played with other innovators, including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and especially Dizzy Gillespie. Along the way, Heath won both their respect and their friendship.
In I Walked with Giants, Heath and McLaren create a “dialogue” with musicians and family members. As in jazz, where improvisation by one performer prompts another to riff on the same theme, I Walked with Giants juxtaposes Heath’s account of his life and career with recollections from jazz giants about life on the road and making music on the world’s stages. His memories of playing with his equally legendary brothers, Percy and Albert (aka “Tootie”), dovetail with their recollections.
Dr. McLaren, who holds a Ph.D. from Brown University, specializes in African, Caribbean, and African American literature, and his teaching at Hofstra and research interests also incorporate African Diaspora Studies. His publications include articles on jazz musicians and various literary and cultural subjects. He is the author of Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921 1943 (1997), he co edited Pan Africanism Updated (1999), African Visions (2000) and edited two volumes of The Collected Works of Langston Hughes: The Big Sea (2002) and I Wonder As I Wander (2002). His friendship with Jimmy Heath dates back to the 1970s when Dr. McLaren was his flute and theory student at Jazzmobile, a Harlem-based organization that sponsors jazz performance classes and community concerts.
I Walked with Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath is available on Amazon.com and through other book retailers. Publisher’s Weekly said: “A true jazz milestone, this bold account by Heath and Hofstra English professor McLaren further illuminates the seldom-told story of our creative homegrown music.” Library Journal agreed: “This is an entirely engaging and thoughtful autobiography from one of jazz's true treasures. This richly told saga is highly recommended."