New Finds

The Good, The Bad, The Funny

New Hadju essays run from Beyonce to Elmer Fudd.

Book Cover If he never published another book, music commentator and cultural historian David Hadju most certainly made his bones with Lush Life, his incomparable biography of the great Duke Ellington collaborator, Billy Strayhorn.

Of course he has continued to publish valuable books—Positively 4th Street, The Ten-Cent Plague, and now Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (Da Capo Press), a collection of essays that includes a revisionist appraisal (“The Man Who Was Too Hot”) of the great jazz singer Billy Eckstine. Additionally, Hadju’s keen and sympathetic point of view informs original profiles of musicians of all stripes: Beyonce, Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, Bobby Darin, Philip Glass, Woody Guthrie, Anita O’Day, Harry Partch, Kanye West, the White Stripes, Joni Mitchell, John Zorn, and non-musically, Marjane Satrapi, Will Eisner, and Elmer Fudd.

David Yaffe’s foreword correctly assesses Hadju’s anthology:
If there is a grand theme that unifies all the essays in this book perhaps it is a collision between youthful exuberance and maturity…the essays in this book are for intelligent readers but they also swing, rock, and draw funny pictures. All of it is played the way it should be played.
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