Songs For My Fathers (Paperback)

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When Sancton's father, a former editor at The New Republic, returned to the South to write novels, he instilled in his son a passion for jazz, taking him along to listen in—even on school nights—at Allan and Sandy Jaffe's Preservation Hall, in New Orleans. In time, Sancton started playing jazz himself. (A clarinettist, he included among his mentors George Lewis and Punch Miller.) This jazz memoir's straightforward style has the virtue of allowing the musicians to speak for themselves. The book is a mirror for their private tribulations, and also for public ones: as a teen-ager at a Tulane frat party, Sancton watched, ashamed, as an all-black local band was told to play "Dixie." A moving introduction explains that this memoir was written before Hurricane Katrina; much of what Sancton lovingly depicts has now vanished in space as well as time.