West Virginia University music professor Christopher Wilkinson has written Jazz on the Road, Don Alberts Music Life. The book was released in October by the University of California Press in Berkeley.
Dr. Wilkinson has been a faculty member in the College of Creative Arts since 1976. A professor of music history, he specializes in the history of African American music with particular attention to jazz and the history of art music from a multicultural perspective.
The subject of his book, Don Albert, was a New Orleans trumpet player who was the first to use the phrase”swing band.”His 1930s group, Don Albert and His Swing Band, included a number of players who later became well known for their performances of New Orleans jazz, including Louis Cottrell, Alvin Alcorn and Herb Hall.
Wilkinson uncovers a fascinating and unexplored side of American musical and social history in this detailed account of Alberts musical career and the multicultural forces that influenced it.
Don Albert was born Albert Dominique in New Orleans in 1908. Wilkinson recounts Alberts musical education in the Creole community of New Orleans and the fusion of New Orleans jazz and the Texas blues styles in the later 1920s during his tenure with Troy Floyds Orchestra of Gold.
He documents the founding of Alberts own band in San Antonio, its tours through 24 states during the 1930s, its recordings and its significant reputation within the African American community.
In addition to providing a vivid account of life on the road and imparting new insight into the daily existence of working musicians, the book illustrates how the fundamental issue of race influenced Alberts life as well as the music of the era.
Alberts years as a San Antonio nightclub owner in the 1940s and 1950s saw the rise in popularity of rhythm and blues and the decline of interest in jazz. There was also increasing racial animosity, which Albert resisted by the successful legal defense of his right to operate an integrated establishment in 1951.
In the next two decades before his death in 1980, his performances in Dixieland jazz bands and interviews with oral historians concerning his own career were the fitting climax to a multifaceted musical life.
The 306-page book also includes 17 black-and-white illustrations, 14 line illustrations, five maps and seven music examples.
For more information about Jazz on the Road, Don Alberts Musical Life, contact the University of California Press at 1-800-UC-BOOKS or read a chapter of Wilkinsons book online atwww.ucpress.edu.