Gerald Majer, a native of Chicago's racially segregated South Side, has written a book about its musical life. Majer combines his personal experiences with the story, or stories, of his community, merging his account of the music and with the difficult conditions that shaped it. The result is an innovative combination of history, subjective experience of that history, and reflection on its meaning-that is, of fact, literature, and criticism. In the first portion of this wide-ranging chapter, Majer discusses the music of Hammond organ players Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith. He also presents a history of their instruments and his reflections on the peculiar logistics of performing on such an unusually massive and powerful electronic instrument. Majer then evokes the power of Roland Kirk, both in musical and personal terms, and the special difficulties and prejudices the blind reedman faced.
JSO will post chapters from this volume on other Chicago-based musicians who have received relatively little scholarly or press attention: Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt.