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Making the Low Notes: A Life in Music, a memoir by Bill Harrison

Making the Low Notes: A Life in Music, a memoir by Bill Harrison

Bass Books

Making the Low Notes: A Life in Music, a memoir by Bill Harrison

Open Books Press is proud to present Making the Low Notes: A Life in Music, a memoir by Bill Harrison, available wherever books are sold on June 6, 2023. The book is now available for pre-order.

Neil Tesser, Grammy-winning author and broadcaster said of Harrison: “I first met Bill Harrison nearly 50 years ago. . . . But I never really heard him until reading this account of his honest, intimate, often witty and always insightful journey. . . . Title notwithstanding, Harrison hits plenty of high notes along the way.”

Bill Harrison chronicles his journey from bumbling music student to successful professional bass player in late twentieth-century Chicago. Told with a mixture of wry humor and hard-won insight, Making the Low Notes gives readers an insider’s peek into the prosaic life of a working musician. Harrison describes periods of camaraderie, disappointment, pain, and joy as he toils in venues as divergent as bowling alleys, jazz clubs, recording studios, hotels, orchestra pits, and concert halls. He shares the stage with jazz greats, including Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Clark Terry, Bunky Green, and Max Roach. Along the way, the bassist struggles to reconcile the dissonance between his desire to be heard and his impulse to hide silently in the shadows.

Author Meghan O’Gieblyn calls Making the Low Notes “a rollicking and heartfelt memoir about a life-long love affair with music. Harrison writes about the highs and lows of a musician’s life with wit, candor, and verve, capturing the pleasures of performing in the limelight as well as in its lambent periphery.”

Praising Harrison’s debut memoir, Pushcart Prize–winning poet Dr. Ravi Shankar said, “Full of heart and the craft of a natural storyteller, Making the Low Notes is a tender, rhapsodic, funny, evocative love letter to the bass.”

Readers, whether familiar with the music industry or not, will find Harrison’s experiences relatable and his prose delightful, as expressed by Aidan Levy, author of Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins: “Bill Harrison, according to Max Roach, could ‘make the quarter notes sing.’ That uncommon ability translates to the page . . . [and] carries us through a life story bursting with pathos and drama on- and offstage, from his early years as a Jewish American accordionist growing up in Queens to his trials and tribulations as a first-call bassist and jazz educator. . . . He imparts hard-earned life lessons that will make readers more mindful players and listeners, regardless of which side of the stage they’re on.”

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