1st Edition

Upbeat Nine Lives of a Musical Cat

By David Amram Copyright 2008
    342 Pages
    by Routledge

    342 Pages
    by Routledge

    David Amram-composer, jazz artist, conductor, and world music pioneer-has been described by the Boston Globe as "the Renaissance man of American music." From early collaborations with Kerouac and Sinatra, chosen by Leonard Bernstein as the New York Philharmonic's first composer in residence, Amram's artistry has taken him from concerts with Willie Nelson to jamming with the Massai tribe of Kenya. In Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat, Amram recounts his extraordinary adventures in the many worlds of music he calls home, all told in a rollicking anecdotal style that makes you feel that you are at home around the world. He writes, "Everywhere I have been in the world, music transcends politics. As musicians, we were able to go beyond all that and just be fellow human beings." Threading through Amram's tale of music, hard work, respect, and friendship are unforgettable stories of fellow great artists-Dizzie Gillespie, Hunter S. Thompson, Janet Gaynor, George Plimpton, Lyle Lovett, Zoe Caldwell, Willie Nelson, and many more.

    Introduction: At Home Around the World 1 Merrymaking and Mayhem in the Mountains: Hunter S. Thompson’s Final Blastoff 2 Kenya, Africa: The Mother of Us All 3 Natural Ambassadors Photo Section following page 4 Kokopelli: Walking the Native American Trail of Beauty 5 Bouquets and Bombs on Broadway: Agony and Ecstasy on the Great White Way 6 The Dutch Treat: The Genesis of Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac 7 Words and Music: Scat and Make-up Songs, the Art of One-Time-Only Rap Reporting 8 Postcards from the Road, 2002–2007, 9 Fond Farewells: Honoring Six Old Friends


    David Amram is an American composer, musician, conductor, and writer. As a classical composer and virtuoso performer, his integration of jazz (including being one of the first noted as an improvising jazz French hornist), ethnic and folk music has led him to work with the likes of Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Nelson, Charles Mingus, Leonard Bernstein, Sir James Galway, Arthur Miller and Jack Kerouac throughout the course of his career.

    “David Amram is all joy. You can dip into this book at any page and find yourself breathless with wonder, music, laughter. That is his magic.”
    —Frank McCourt, from the Foreword

    “[David Amram is] a godsend to those who believe in the power of music to change lives and to inspire.”
    —Wynton Marsalis

    “David Amram was multicultural before multiculturalism existed.”
    —New York Times

    “One of the greatest composers of the twentieth century.”
    —John Williams in Film Music

    “A musical catalyst and leader on par with Leonard Bernstein, Pete Seeger, and Dizzie Gillespie.”
    —Minneapolis Star

    “Amram is a great musician, composer and storyteller. Shouldn’t it be against the law for someone to be so good at so many things?”
    -William McKeen, St. Petersburg Times

    “In his new memoir, David Amram tells all about his remarkable life adventures. … you’ll discover a unique voice and perspective. …”
    —Scott Oglesby, American Book Review

    “Upbeat is an episodic remembrance of a variety of colorful, surprising events from [Amram’s] long career. … He celebrates his famous acquaintances without bragging about his own abilities, and constantly displays a wide-eyed wonder about music as a universal language.”
    —Scott Yanow, JazzTimes