I wish I’d been born with the musical discipline and heart my kid brother Marv was born with. I wasn’t. Maybe the heart. But in my case the heart didn’t come along till later – when I’d already sort of committed to being a writer because I’d lacked the early foresight to pick up and learn an instrument. So Shake’s passion for the trumpet is a fusion of the kid I would like to have been and my kid brother Marv.
Marv. A degree in jazz theory. A master of five instruments – piano, alto sax, flute, guitar, accordion – and an illustrious four- decade career of being “in the media,” if you can call jazz clubs, country western bars, disco joints, dives, churches, concert venues, festivals, jam sessions, and similar venues “media.” Which I do. So I steal a few of these from Marv and give them to Shake.
My own “in the media” experience? Well, since I’m not close to famous yet, and have spent the last few years holed up writing, it’s pretty limited. I have to go back to a more public time, when I was teaching more than I was writing, when I was reading at SUNY Writers’ Conferences across upstate New York, the PEN New Writers Series, a couple of academic conferences, and colleges and coffee shops around northwestern Jersey. But here’s some recent stuff.
National Public Radio Interview
A conversation with Steve Williams, host of Nighttime Jazz on KUER Public Radio in Salt Lake, on Monday the 21st of October during his nightly show. We talked about the story of the trilogy – a boy growing up Mormon in 50s and 60s Utah with a dream to play jazz trumpet – and about the depiction of jazz, its history, its basic theory, and its heroes in the trilogy, as well as the racially confrontational context of the culture in which the boy had to pursue his dream. I read scenes while Steve played selected standards. It didn’t always go smoothly – it was my first live interview in a radio studio — but we spent an hour and a half on the air. Thank you, Steve. Hope to see you again soon.
Al Cole Internet Radio Interview
A conversation with Al Cole on his Internet Radio Program “People of Distinction.” We talked at length about the story of the trilogy, the Mormon culture, and the Mormon people and the way they’ve been portrayed to the rest of the country in fiction and television. We talked about my goal in the trilogy – to humanize a people who have long been portrayed and regarded as peculiar and bring the Mormon experience to a mainstream audience. You can listen to the interview under the tab “Al Cole Interview.”
Readings, Signings, Jazz Performances
Golden Years Activity Center
Reading, Signing, and Jazz Performance at the Golden Years Senior Activity Center in Bountiful, Utah on October 22nd, 2013, in front of a hometown crowd. Readings from Journey and Of the World. Toni Zimmer vocals and Marv Zimmer piano.
First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake
Reading, Signing, and Jazz Performance in Elliot Hall at the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake on October 22, 2013. Readings from Journey and Of the World. Marv Zimmer piano.
Bountiful Music Recital Hall
Reading, Signing, and Jazz Performance at Bountiful Music Recital Hall in Bountiful, Utah on October 24th, 2013. Readings from Journey and Of the World. Toni Zimmer vocals and Dan Waldis piano.
The King’s English Bookshop
Reading and Signing at The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake on October 25th, 2013. Readings from Journey and Of the World.
I’ll let Jennifer Jean Miller tell the story of my very first signing. Don’t let this cover of Journey scare you if you haven’t seen it – it’s the original cover.
Meet the Author Sessions
This past spring I did a couple of “meet the author” events at Sussex County College after Journey was used as a textbook for courses in comparative religions and the philosophy of the self. Students. What a thrill. I hadn’t stood at the front of a classroom since my last day teaching at SUNY Oswego. I autographed battered copies (the best kind) of Journey afterward and was even asked for hugs by some of the girls. More to come this fall, I’ve heard, as both books do textbook duty, not only at Sussex again but also at Centenary College. I love college kids. I miss teaching.
Reader and Writer Blogs
People from around the world who’ve read one or another book or both – people I don’t know – have been kind and enthusiastic enough to come forward, write reviews, and recommend the trilogy on dozens and dozens of reader and writer blogs. I found them just googling my name and the title Journey. I don’t know them except by the names they leave behind. Spreading the word about the trilogy has been a lot more daunting that writing it. So thank you and God bless you for helping out.
And on that note I also need to thank the friends and other folks who’ve gone on Amazon and Barnes & Noble to rate the books and write some really stellar reviews that have taught me how to look at Shake and his story in ways I never expected.
Author and Book Sites
Aside from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, author profiles and reviews, descriptions, some of my thoughts on writing, and excerpts of Journey and Of the World are up on the following author and book sites:
And my favorite just because the books are on a real trumpet site!
Once Almost a Musician
My closest claim to musical fame are the four Long Island guys who formed a rock band in Oswego while I was teaching fiction writing there and named it The Maxxzimmer Band. For a time I was mad because they’d taken my name and made it famous before I’d had my own shot. But I got over it because they were good and were giving me my band experience the best they could. They even took the band home when they graduated and played around the Island. In the newspaper photo, you’ve got Jerry House on drums, Matt Scipione on sax and keyboards, David George on vocals and bass, and John Daly on vocals and lead guitar.