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If You Only Read One Book In Lifeā€¦

If You Only Read One Book

If you only read one book in life… Don’t. This was the heading of a series of social media posts that we started starting about a month ago. These posts were developed in collaboration with our partner, Books & Stuff - a book shop with whom we have done multiple Jazz book raffles, to emphasize importance of reading and highlight, selections about Jazz.


Getting back to our theme, it's important to state that as we live in what is known as the "Information Age." The irony in this age of information is that disinformation is out of control. Apparently everyone is entitled to their own set of facts. This situation is compounded by the absence of Civics/Citizenship as part of the basic K-12 education curricula for several generations of American school children. As a result, we have the recipe for our current politicial and social climate.


For many, the way out is a search for answers. So, we look to the internet and of course, to books for those answers. But what's really critical to understand is that answers are tethered to information. Yet, there is a profound difference between information and knowledge.


According to the online data research and IT company DataRob...

Information is nothing but the refined form of data, which is helpful to understand the meaning. On the other hand, knowledge is the relevant and objective information that helps in drawing conclusions. Data compiled in the meaningful context provides information. Conversely, when information is combined with experience and intuition, it results in knowledge.


Ultimately, knowing all of the answers to the test doesn’t mean that an individual has learned anything or attained any knowledge. They just possess some information. So, if you only are going to read one book in life, why do we suggest that you don’t even bother?…Because it is the human brain’s eternal thirst for knowledge and stimulation that ultimately works to satisfy the soul.


All in all, with the series of posts and in this article, we just wanted to be useful and contribute to an open community dialogue. Our goal is to share some interesting and relevant material that we have read and experienced over the years. Of the many books that we believe should be a part of our lives, consider the following 10 titles that we've found profoundly useful to us. They may or may not do the same thing for you.



Some of these books may be easily accessible and available. Others may not.

Visit the Books & Stuff Website to begin your search.



Phila Jazz Stories Illustrated Book CoverPhiladelphia Jazz Stories Illustrated: Volume #1

by Philadelphia Jazz Project


What better way to start off this reading list, than with our own book, published in 2019. This is a colorful collection of memories & accounts from Philly’s Jazz community. It includes tales about, or by musicians such as Odean Pope, Rashied Ali, Raymond A. King, Barbara Montgomery, Bootsie Barnes, Ted Gerike and Mickey Roker. Each story is accompanied by an exquisite illustration by visual artists like Jerry Pinkney, Michelle Ortiz, Eric Battle and others.






Frederick Douglass Book CoverThe Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Written by Himself


Written by former slave, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass and originally published in 1845, this gripping book describes his many challenges, accomplishments and beliefs. His loud, but distant voice should inspire all of us to reflect upon issues facing our nation and out communities today; such as systemic racism, human trafficking, police brutality and mass incarceration.









Music: Black White & Blue Book CoverMusic: Black, White & Blue. A Sociological Survey of the Use & Misuse of Afro-American Music by Ortiz Walton.


Written in 1972 by musician and sociologist Ortiz Walton, this book is an uncompromising historical overview and critique of Black music and its strange relationship with America. From exploring the music of the earliest African arrivals to the New World Afro-American music and to grappling with commercial radio play, Walton pulls no punches and his data-driven assertions which still resonant powerfully, even today.









Dick Gregory's Political Primer Book CoverDick Gregory's Political Primer By Dick Gregory & James R. McGraw


Published in 1972 and written by political satirist, activist and comedian Dick Gregory, this book is as relevant and useful today, as it was when it first appeared. It is a powerful, informative and hilarious exploration of American history, politics and citizenship. Gregory’s wit was peerless and in this “workbook,” he teaches everybody something about how democracy works and doesn’t work in the USA.









Critical Path Book CoverCritical Path by R. Buckminster Fuller with Kiyoshi Kuromiya


Published in 2017, architect, designer and inventor, Buckminster Fuller presents a dense and sprawling book filled with intriguing questions, facts and hypotheses about how and why, the world works as it does, as well as creative attempts to make change in it. This is not an easy read due to the quirky nature of Fuller’s use of language, but it is highly rewarding for those who are patient with him. Most interesting is his interpretation of the development of human civilization and the role of scarcity as both a driving force and farce in global economic policy.








Who Owns The Earth Book CoverWho Owns The Earth by James Ridgeway


Written in 1980 by investigative journalist James Ridgeway, this book presents an exhaustive, intriguing and broad inventory of global natural resources and commodities. Items as diverse as oranges, cocoa, tobacco, oil, diamonds, human blood, lumber and much, much more are included. By sharing noteworthy tales of the common usage and geo-political history of these items, as well as where they are primarily located, who owns them and most important, who controls them, the author gives us invaluable hints as to the origins of some of the world's economic and political tensions.







A Power Stronger Than Itself Book CoverA Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM & American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis


Written by musician, educator and MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award recipient, George Lewis and published in 2008, this book serves as a definitive history of the highly influential, Chicago-based, Black artist collective, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musician, of which Lewis is a member. Shared from an intimate point of view, with the added dexterity of a scholar and researcher, Lewis paints an exquisite portrait of the organization and its members, while simultaneously depicting the hurdles of creating Modern Art in America.







Stomping The Blues Book CoverStomping The Blues by Albert Murray


Published in 1976, by Jazz critic and novelist Albert Murray, this book is an unapologetic, insightful, and poetic journey to define and celebrate the Blues. Rendered as a kind of love poem to the music itself, Murray takes the reader on an intimate and captivating historical exploration of the social, psychological and spiritual role that Jazz and Blues music has played and continues to play in the lives of its creators and its audience. In the process, he amasses what amounts to a soulful, survival guide to overcoming the many turmoil’s of life.







Kids' TV Grows Up Book CoverKids' TV Grows Up: The Path from Howdy Doody to SpongeBob by Jo Holz


Published in 2017, this book, written by Philadelphia-based market scholar Jo Holz is a deftly packed history of American children’s television. It highlights the ongoing battle for the sanctity of childhood innocence, as it underscores TV's impact on the dreams, aspirations, thoughts and lives of everyone of us born since World War II. Kids' TV Grows Up calmly and patiently illuminates how behind every cartoon, puppet and singalong broadcast to millions of children for decades, is a process of messaging that has shaped modern American culture, consumption and politics.






Music Of Black Americans Book CoverThe Music Of Black Americans: A History by Eileen Southern


Written by pioneering musician, educator and musicologist, Eileen Southern and published in 1971, this book is considered the seminal historical work on Black music in America. Starting with the arrival of the very first Africans brought to the New World by Europeans, her work digs deep into stylistic developments, blows away all manner of stereotypes, and provides challenging inquiries that shed light on the evolution of this music and its current global status. Meticulously researched, this book is a gift to those thirsty for knowledge about the formation of “American” culture.






Special thanks to our Jazz Book Raffle collaborators at WRTI 90.1FM and WPPM 106.5 FM, as well as to J. Michael Harrison, Alonzo Jennings and Vanessa Graber for their support and assistance. Extra Special Thanks to Books & Stuff for our collaborations and the willingness to spread the word about the music!!!


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by the Philadelphia Foundation.


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Tags : OnlyOneBook BooksAndStuff JazzBook JazzStories JazzandArt JazzArt KnowledgeIsPower ImportantBooks Read FrederickDouglass Autobiography OrtizWalton Music MusicBlackWhiteAndBlue DickGregory PoliticalPrimer Politics JazzHistory Blues Jazz Culture America AmericanHistory Kids\'TVGrowsUp JoHolz MusicOfBlackAmericans EileenSouthern PowerStrongerThanItself GeorgeLewis StompingTheBlues AlbertMurray CriticalPath BuckminsterFuller WhoOwnsTheEarth JamesRidgeway PhillyJazz


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.