Friend of the Station, Ron Fortier returns with another Pulp Fiction Review. This time out Ron takes a look at The Last Jazz Band by Charles Boeckman.
THE LAST JAZZ BAND
By Charles Boeckman
Jazztex Publishing Co.
When World War II pilot Charlie Neil learns his beloved wife, Meg, has died only months before his discharge, his world is turned upside down. He returns to an empty apartment in New York City and is cruelly haunted by the dreams he’d left behind. Then an old war buddy, and fellow musician, Ted Riley, calls from South Texas to tell Charlie he’s putting together and hot jazz band and wants him to pack his clarinet and come join him to make musical history.
What follows over the next three years is a full tilt life altering odyssey for Charlie and his fellow members of Joe Barney’s Jazz Band. From the honkytonks of Corpus Christi to the seedy dirt alleys of Mexican cantinas, Charlie, Ted, Skinny Lang, Cemetery Wilson and Big Irving play for all they are worth; drinking, carousing and taking on whatever life has to dish out. When they end up in New Orleans and manage to cut a demo tape, Ted is convinced it is only the beginning of their new found fame but Charlie can see the winds of change; their kind of reckless, pure jazz has run its course.
Writer Charles Boeckman is that rare soul who is both an accomplished musician and gifted writer able to infuse his fiction with the same feverish beat that propelled the wonderful music he has played all his life. He weaves characters throughout his narrative like melodies always in flux, always changing, always moving to the inevitable final crescendo that is the end.
The story of Charlie Neil and his pal Ted Riley is funny, sad and heart wrenching in so many ways that it will leave the reader with a tear and a smile all the while tapping their feet to some unheard beat. Why Hollywood hasn’t found “The Last Jazz Band” is a true tragedy. If you enjoy inspired storytelling, find this book now!