Maurice Peress leads an unusual American musical life. Born to a Baghdadian father and Polish mother, his first music was Arabic and Yiddish songs. He grew up in New York's Washington Heights, became a busy dance band and symphonic trumpeter, and was drafted towards the end of the Korean conflict, landing him in a newly integrated Negro Regimental Band. In this memoir, he shares what he learned from an enormous range of American works and musicians. In his first book, Peress explored America's music and its African American roots. A musical mission emerges, a lifelong commitment to "give concerts that reconstruct delicious mixed marriages of music, black and white, Jazz and classical, folk and concert, Native American and European; works that bring people together, that urge us to love one another."
Residing in New York City, Maurice Peress is the author of Dvorak to Duke Ellington (Oxford University Press). He teaches at the Aaron Copland School of Music and guest conducts in the United States and abroad. Recently, his 90th Anniversary Celebration of the concert that launched Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue," with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, sold out New York’s Town Hall.