Flying High: A Jazz Life and Beyond
Published by Northway Books
Foreword by Benny Golson.
Peter King’s book ranks among the great jazz autobiographies. One of the world's leading alto saxophonists, he tells his story with searing honesty, revealing the obsessions and motivations that have driven him and the dilemmas of surviving as a top creative musician in an often inhospitable world. With unsparing self-analysis he describes the traumas that accompanied his brilliant career for many years.
Internationally recognised as a jazz star, Peter King has performed and recorded with a galaxy of musical legends, many of them his close friends. Among those vividly recalled in this book are Bud Powell, Milt Jackson, Ray Charles, Anita O’Day, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Hampton Hawes, Al Haig, Philly Joe Jones, Zoot Sims, Jimmy Witherspoon, Dakota Staton, Red Rodney, Jon Hendricks, Tony Bennett and Marlene Dietrich. But while the story here centres on Peter King's life in jazz it shows other important sides of him too: his ambitions and achievements in classical composing, his interests outside music (he is a leading figure and writer in the aero-modelling world) and, above all, the treasured personal relationships that have sustained him through a turbulent life. Flying High tells of an exhilarating high altitude journey, in the jazz world and beyond.
"A highly personal but hugely readable chronicle of a quietly spoken genius, this is a no-punch-unpulled diary of a young man who found himself at the UK core of a vital new music which rattled the mainstream and shook the floors of jazz clubs from New York to London in the fifties. King's vividly remembered and often brutally detailed story makes a book whose appeal far exceeds the jazz cognescenti and is by turns funny, touching and, dare I say it, unputdownable! A wonderful and historically fascinating self-portrait of an artist whose restless mind embraces far more than the achingly beautiful music he continues to produce."
"Peter King paints a unique portrait of the London jazz scene over the past fifty years. Beautifully observed portraits of jazz legends (both American and British) are enhanced by fascinating anecdotes that give a rare insight into the art form that is jazz. The book could only have been written by a maestro of Peter King's stature and for me it was a complete 'page turner'. I couldn't put it down and read it in two sessions. I already have a place on the bookshelf for it, alongside Music is my Mistress (Duke Ellington), Really the Blues (Mezz Mezzrow), Straight Life (Art Pepper) and Beneath the Underdog (Charles Mingus)."
"Peter King has written an account of himself which is not only compelling, but touching in its honesty and openness. In much the same way as he plays a solo he gives you everything, in detail... This book is filled with the wisdom of a true master, and should be an obligatory read on the curriculum of all music schools and colleges. It is full of insights into the stuff that cannot be taught in a conservatoire. It describes the dedication and devotion needed to attain the level of playing that few manage to get to. It is a must for anyone seriously engaged with improvised music, whether it be jazz or any other musical category... He has captured himself on paper and the book really feels as though it is him sitting there talking to you. Peter King has a great story to tell, it is the story of a survivor. It's a real slice of life, his life, and a big one at that."
Stephen Keogh, LondonJazz
This book is also available as an ebook: buy it from Amazon here.