Of the thirty-two pieces in this collection of music stories and articles of interest to serious music fans likely will include David Hajdu’s piece about pianist/composer Fred Hersch, Geoffrey O’Brien’s article about Duke Ellington and Joe Hagan’s story entitled “I Wish I Knew How To Be Free: The Secret Diary of Nina Simone.”
Other stories give a varying picture of the music scene. There’s one about Lady Gaga and Lauren Wilcox Puchowski’s Washington Post piece about a wedding singer Kenny Holmes who passionately pursues his vocation in competition with DJs and celebrants who want to play music from their own iPods.
David Hajdu is journalism professor at Columbia U. Graduate School of Journalism and music critic for The New Republic. Hajdu was written about Fred Hersch previously. The piece was originally printed in New York Times and is entitled, “Giant Steps: The Survival of a Great Jazz Pianist.” It chronicles Hersch’s career before and after his recovery from AIDs-induced coma. Remarkably, in his recovery, he feels that he remembered thoughts occurring when he was comatose. And following his slow recovery, in which he had to teach his, fingers how to move on the piano, he composed and played some remarkable new music.
The editors have also listed other music writing from the year 2011. Best Music Writing of 2011 is the twelfth in the series, having begun in the year 2000.
Review by F. Norman Vickers