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The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis

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Mel Lewis (1929–1990) was born Melvin Sokoloff to Jewish Russian immigrants in Buffalo, New York. He first picked up his father’s drumsticks at the age of two and at seventeen he was a full-time professional musician. The View from the Back of the Band is the first biography of this legendary jazz drummer. For over fifty years, Lewis provided the blueprint for how a drumme Mel Lewis (1929–1990) was born Melvin Sokoloff to Jewish Russian immigrants in Buffalo, New York. He first picked up his father’s drumsticks at the age of two and at seventeen he was a full-time professional musician. The View from the Back of the Band is the first biography of this legendary jazz drummer. For over fifty years, Lewis provided the blueprint for how a drummer could subtly support any musical situation. While he made his name with Stan Kenton and Thad Jones, and with his band at the Village Vanguard, it was the hundreds of recordings that he made as a sideman and his ability to mentor young musicians that truly defined his career. Away from the drums, Lewis's passionate and outspoken personality made him one of jazz music's greatest characters. It is often through Lewis's own anecdotes, as well as many from the musicians who knew him best, that this book traces the career of one of the world’s greatest drummers. Previously unpublished interviews, personal memoirs, photos, musical transcriptions, and a selected discography add to this comprehensive biography.


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Mel Lewis (1929–1990) was born Melvin Sokoloff to Jewish Russian immigrants in Buffalo, New York. He first picked up his father’s drumsticks at the age of two and at seventeen he was a full-time professional musician. The View from the Back of the Band is the first biography of this legendary jazz drummer. For over fifty years, Lewis provided the blueprint for how a drumme Mel Lewis (1929–1990) was born Melvin Sokoloff to Jewish Russian immigrants in Buffalo, New York. He first picked up his father’s drumsticks at the age of two and at seventeen he was a full-time professional musician. The View from the Back of the Band is the first biography of this legendary jazz drummer. For over fifty years, Lewis provided the blueprint for how a drummer could subtly support any musical situation. While he made his name with Stan Kenton and Thad Jones, and with his band at the Village Vanguard, it was the hundreds of recordings that he made as a sideman and his ability to mentor young musicians that truly defined his career. Away from the drums, Lewis's passionate and outspoken personality made him one of jazz music's greatest characters. It is often through Lewis's own anecdotes, as well as many from the musicians who knew him best, that this book traces the career of one of the world’s greatest drummers. Previously unpublished interviews, personal memoirs, photos, musical transcriptions, and a selected discography add to this comprehensive biography.

50 review for The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Harold

    A definite five stars for a well researched and well written book. This one is strictly for musicians, it delves into discussions of techniques and written transcriptions of some Mel's work, while at the same time presenting a great history of Mel's career. There were quite a few interviews with Mel and he spoke frankly and informatively on not only drum techniques, but his take on music and jazz in general and the state of the music business. (It was bad in Mel's lifetime and has only gotten wo A definite five stars for a well researched and well written book. This one is strictly for musicians, it delves into discussions of techniques and written transcriptions of some Mel's work, while at the same time presenting a great history of Mel's career. There were quite a few interviews with Mel and he spoke frankly and informatively on not only drum techniques, but his take on music and jazz in general and the state of the music business. (It was bad in Mel's lifetime and has only gotten worse since!) Highly recommended to musicians of any instrument and genre. I'm a died in the wool jazzer, but maybe people who are not died in the wool jazzers would get even more from a book like this in terms of widening and expanding knowledge and a musical philosophy that can work in any genre.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Randall Coyne

    An excellent detailed look at the life and stellar career of an underrated drummer.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Gillies

  4. 5 out of 5

    Armando Cairo

  5. 5 out of 5

    richkath

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Goddard

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andi

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas S. Tomas

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bjorn Grenholm

  10. 5 out of 5

    Austin Wagner

  11. 5 out of 5

    waltraud hoppe

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jake Michaud

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark

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    Ryan

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Auchter

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    Tom Dupin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Thomas O'Brien

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    Stephen Guerra

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    Vincent Osborn

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eric Puente

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    Corey Kendrick

  22. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

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    Barbara

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michaela Osiecki

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim Williamson

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    Craig Dean

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    Trica Johnson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Hoffman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vykki

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    Erin

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kay Butz

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    Pam

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    Marilyn

  35. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Reinhard

  36. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Obrien

  37. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Cole Marie Mckinnon

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    Tammy Pooser

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    Sandra

  40. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  41. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  42. 4 out of 5

    David Bathurst

  43. 4 out of 5

    BMR, LCSW

  44. 4 out of 5

    Glenda Poulter

  45. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  46. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

  47. 4 out of 5

    John

  48. 4 out of 5

    Dean Baker

  49. 5 out of 5

    Darren Mitton

  50. 4 out of 5

    Katie Jones

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