Kings, Revolutionaries, and Immigrants
Media Shelf offers jazz-pop standards and books with empowering messages and personal portraits to lift spirits.
Happy as a King by Jill Rogers (Imperial Jazz Co., ImperialJazzCo.com)
On three albums with self-described “honky tonk revisionists” Crying Time, including the new Last Saturday Night, Jill Rogers convincingly interprets classic ’60s- and ’70s-inspired country. On her first solo album, the Oakland singer rolls the decades back and turns to the Great American Songbook, taking on such jazz-pop standards as “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “The Very Thought of You,” “Night and Day,” “You Go to My Head,” and “Pennies from Heaven.” Her local collaborators — saxophonist Phillip Greenlief, bassist Dan Seamans, drummer Tom Hassett, guitarist John Finkbeiner, and organist Lorenzo Farrell, with guitarist (and album producer) Myles Boisen, and drummer John Hanes on a couple of tracks — have as much fun as Rogers does settling into the grooves of a more innocent and melodic age. While Greenlief obliquely and brilliantly channels Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Coleman Hawkins, Rogers won’t remind you of many Golden Age singers, because her unforced, lightly floating, brassy, and joyfully in-the-moment vocals make each classic song her own.
Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All by Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin, and Jamia Wilson (Ten Speed Press, 2018, $16.99, 208 pp.)
The doom and gloom that dominate headlines leaves one feeling powerlessness. Road Map for Revolutionaries, however, empowers our role in the American experiment. The book details the path to effective advocacy and activism in the Protests and Civil Disobedience and Reform School: Reforming Other Institutions in Our Lives sections. This guidebook for change also reveals the many difficulties of a politically engaged life and explains how to stay safe in the Protecting Yourself Online and Off section. Published by Bay Area publishing house Ten Speed Press, Road Map for Revolutionaries is the book for Bay Area folks that want to change the hate-filled headlines that have become too common.
I Am Home: Portraits of Immigrant Teenagers by Rachel Neumann (Parallax Press, 2018, $22.95, 120 pp.)
I Am Home is a touching addition to the immigration conversation. Portraits of Oakland International High School’s immigrant students fill the pages, with accompanying short blurbs that allow them tell their own stories. The high school’s 390 students hail from over 30 countries as far flung as El Salvador, Yemen, Senegal, and Thailand. Though some will use immigration to spread hate and fear, I Am Home reveals the beauty and diversity these young immigrants bring to our shared home. All profits from this book support Oakland International High School, started in 2007 to help these newcomer youth develop the linguistic and practical skills needed to succeed in school and after graduation.