Nat Hentoff’s Recommended Reading


Nat Hentoff enjoyed this memoir.

“Nat Hentoff’s Recommended Reading” is a newish feature here on Runnin’ Scared that takes an occasional look at the books, articles, and stories that Nat Hentoff is reading these days.

For his second pick, the celebrated Voice columnist has chosen Jazz Odyssey: My Life in Jazz by Oscar Peterson, an autobiography published by Continuum.

In this passage the legendary pianist recalls a recording session with Fred Astaire:

I found it fascinating to discover how different were Fred’s senses of time as a vocalist and as dancer: Dancing, his time was so strict that he could make an accompaniment sound early or late; his vocal time however, was VERY loose, uninhibited, and unmeasured.
I found the best way to accompany Fred was to give him a long harmonic chord cushion and let him take his natural liberties with metronomic time.
It was also riveting to watch Fred on some of the slow ballads. His normal posture was to hold one hand cupped over his ear as he sang, but on some tunes he would lower the hand and instinctively fall into a semi-swirl, so familiar from his gliding ballroom performances