Music Makes Me
Fred Astaire and Jazz
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Fred Astaire: one of the great jazz artists of the twentieth century? Astaire is best known for his brilliant dancing in the movie musicals of the 1930s, but in Music Makes Me, Todd Decker argues that Astaire’s work as a dancer and choreographer —particularly in the realm of tap dancing—made a significant contribution to the art of jazz. Decker examines the full range of Astaire’s work in filmed and recorded media, from a 1926 recording with George Gershwin to his 1970 blues stylings on television, and analyzes Astaire’s creative relationships with the greats, including George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer. He also highlights Astaire’s collaborations with African American musicians and his work with lesser known professionals—arrangers, musicians, dance directors, and performers.
Praise For Music Makes Me: Fred Astaire and Jazz…
“Mr. Decker digs deeply into Astaire's creative process, anatomizing what went into each production. . . . Illuminating, richly detailed analysis.”
— Wall Street Journal
“Delving into production schedules, credit sheets, cast lists, and other studio paraphernalia, Decker gives us a good look at Astaire-related activity behind the scenes.”
— New York Review Of Books
“Fascinating. . . . Much in Decker’s account of Astaire’s musicianship and the range of this talents in Music Makes Me may come as a surprise.”
— Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“A worthy addition to the books that have been inspired by the genius of Fred Astaire.”
— Reelzchannel Maltin On Movies
“A worthy resource. . . . Highly Recommended.”
— C. Wadsworth Walker
“Illuminating. . . . There is something of an unabashed joy in watching and hearing Astaire’s routines, and Decker’s book reflects that joy.”
— Sarah Caissie Provost Clark University
“Decker offers . . . fascinating observations to underscore the idea of Astaire as ardent listener and lover of all things ‘jazz.’”
— Jennifer R. Jenkins
University of California Press, 9780520268906, 392pp.
Publication Date: June 24, 2011
About the Author
Todd Decker is Assistant Professor of Music at Washington University in St. Louis.