Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 000-000
Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State is a collection of sixteen essays that can be read according to interest rather than order. They cover a wide range of jazz-related topics, from important jazz musicians to important jazz discographies; Dave Oliphant is emphatic throughout about the important contributions of Texas-born jazz musicians to every phase of jazz. I have the same concern now that I did when reading Oliphant's earlier book, Texan Jazz (1996), namely that he deals less with jazz in Texas than with Texas-born jazz musicians who left the state to work in top bands. Nevertheless, this collection is an important contribution to our knowledge not only of Texas-born jazz musicians, but also of the major bands in which they played.
For this reviewer the most interesting essays are the two pertaining to western swing. Though he admits that some performances of western swing possess jazz qualities, Oliphant is not ready to admit western swing into the canon of jazz history. These chapters nonetheless belong in a book entitled Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State because western swing, like all true mavericks, followed its own laws and obeyed the commands of its own distinct audience.