Book Reviews

Media Reviews

Book Review: Bebop, Swing, And Bella Musica: Jazz And The Italian American Experience

Fra Noi Magazine, Fred L. Gardaphe "Overall, the book earns the praise that historian Frank A. Salamone gives it in his "Foreword": "This book is long overdue. It documents the role that Italian Americans have played in the development of jazz without denying the tremendous influence made by African Americans and others."

- Fred L. Gardaphe, Fra Noi Magazine, Distinguished Professor of Italian American Studies, City University of New York

W. Royal Stokes "A new book, Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica: Jazz and the Italian American Experience (Bella Musica Publishing) by Bill Dal Cerro and David Anthony Witter, is a long-overdue tribute to the inestimable role that Italian-Americans have played in the evolution of jazz from its beginnings to the present.

On the book's website, where it can be ordered (as well as on, the volume's theme and substance are summed up: 'Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica is more than just a book about music. From the lynching of Italian immigrants in New Orleans in 1891 through hard times and prejudice, this book documents the cultural barriers that Italians faced in their pursuit of the American Dream. It also profiles musicians like [clarinetist] Joe Marsala, who played an active role in the integration of jazz music. [The book] features original, in-depth interviews with many artists who overcame poverty, illness and other personal tragedies. In the end, they drew strength from the musical traditions of their ancestors, bringing Italian passion to America's greatest art form.'

Nick LaRocca, Wingy Manone, Joe Venuti, Louie Bellson, Frank Sinatra, Lennie Tristano, Buddy DeFranco, Joannie Pallatto, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Dottie Dodgion, Joe Lovano, Ada Rovati, Roberta Gambarini and score upon score of other jazz musicians of Italian heritage are included in this splendid and authoritative study."

- W. Royal Stokes, Recipient of the 2014 Jazz Journalists Association's Lifetime Achievement
in Jazz Journalism Award       (See Stokes' books )
(Photo courtesy of Erika Hartmann Stokes)

Book Review: Bebop, Swing, And Bella Musica: Jazz And The Italian American Experience

Capital Public Radio, Gary G. Vercelli review of Bebop, Swing, and Bella Musica - Gary G. Vercelli, Jazz Music Director, Capital Public Radio, Sacramento, California

Book Review: Bebop, Swing, And Bella Musica: Jazz And The Italian American Experience

All About Jazz, Nicholas F. Mondello review of Bebop, Swing, and Bella Musica - Nicholas F. Mondello, All About Jazz

I-Italy Magazine Book Review: Bebop, Swing, And Bella Musica: Jazz And The Italian American Experience

- Enzo Capua, Jazz Editor, I-Italy Magazine

Book Review: Bebop, Swing, And Bella Musica: Jazz And The Italian American Experience

Italic Institute of America - Rosario A. Iaconis, The Italic Way, Italic Institute of America

Book Review: Bebop, Swing, And Bella Musica: Jazz And The Italian American Experience

Italian American magazine, Order Sons of Italy - Miles Ryan Fisher, Editor-in-Chief, Italian American Magazine, Order Sons of Italy in America

Book Review: Bebop, Swing, And Bella Musica: Jazz And The Italian American Experience

Ambassador magazine, National Italian American Foundation - Don Oldenburg, Editor, Ambassador Magazine,, National Italian American Foundation

Jay Parini "This is a highly readable and entertaining book on jazz and its relationship with Italian American culture. I learned a great deal from it, and I found it lively and detailed."

- Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal

Jazz Performer Reviews

Justin DiCioccio "As being a part of what Italian American jazz artists, many of whom are originally from upstate New York, like to call "The Upstate Burn!," the book "Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica" is an important historical and sociological work on the Italian American jazz experience!"

- Justin DiCioccio drummer/percussionist, conductor; Associate Dean, Jazz Arts - Manhattan School of Music

Joe Marsala "My father, Joe Marsala, would have enjoyed and heartily approved of Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica. Joe was all about people, their stories, their struggles, their music and this book brings it all together for Italian Americans in jazz. Like so many of their generation, the Marsala brothers, Joe and Marty, were drawn to this music; it touched their souls and they had to be a part of it."

- Eleisa Trampler Marsala, daughter of bandleader and clarinetist Joe Marsala

Gene DiNovi "What a joy to see so many musicians I've worked with receive their due. Dal Cerro and Witter have composed a chronicle of history, love, joy and music that started in countless Italian American homes. A great musical read!"

- Gene DiNovi, famed bebop pianist and composer

Dottie Giaimo Dodgion "I feel you have captured the essence of our inheritance down to the "gnat's ass"! I was blessed to have been in N.Y.C. from 1961-1971 to have played with some of those great giants of jazz. It gave me pleasure to read each bio. Your interview with each one was so informative with truth. I felt I was in the room when they were telling their story. This book should be in the archives of Jazz. A "must read before picking up an instrument!"

"I really feel it's worth, to be passed down to others, who have never understood what "playing in the pocket" means, and to the musicians who knew what the "pocket" meant in remembrance. I loved this book. Thank you for caring about the where and when of music."

- Dottie Giaimo Dodgion, one of the first female jazz drummers

Scott LaFaro "Thoroughly enjoyable and very informative. The book fleshes out what we always knew and many expected, knowing the Italians' historical appreciation of, contribution to, and love of music, indeed for all of the arts."

- Helene LaFaro Fernandez, Author "Jade Visions - The Life and Music of Scott LaFaro"

Joe LaBarbera "This book is a needed reminder that many different cultures contributed to the development of jazz and continue to do so"

- Joe La Barbera, jazz drummer and composer

John LaBarbera "Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica: Jazz and the Italian American Experience is an amazing walk through the pages of history and the Italian/American contribution to the jazz art form. Every chapter is a new revelation for those of us who thought they knew about jazz history. A must read."

- John La Barbera, composer, arranger and trumpeter

Joe Lovano "I'm proud and happy to be represented in this book, really the first document of its kind. The authors did their research and represent everyone well."

- Joe Lovano, Grammy Award winning saxophonist and composer

Joannie Pallatto "Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica - A treasure trove of Italian Jazz History!"

- Joanie Pallatto, vocalist, co-founder Southport Records

Academic Reviews

Francesco Martinelli "Jazz and Italy? Some might be surprised until they read about the Italian contribution to what has been called 'America's Classical Music'."

In more than thirty in-depth chapters about Italian American jazz musicians, journalists Bill Dal Cerro and David Anthony Witter have unearthed and collected a wealth of information that sheds light on this often overlooked side of Italian American culture. Bravi!"

- Francesco Martinelli, Siena Jazz Foundation, Italy

Frank Salamone "This book is long overdue . . . The importance of Italians in jazz, their love of harmony and melody and bel canto performing, has long been a part of jazz, and too long neglected. (The book) demonstrates how aspects of the Italian personality have seeped into the music, into what Wynton Marsalis has called the 'gumbo' of jazz. Italians have added quite a bit to the gumbo."

- Frank A. Salamone, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus, Iona College, New Rochelle, New York, Author of "The Culture of Jazz: Jazz as Critical Culture"

Anthony J. Agostinelli BEBOP, SWING AND BELLA MUSICA is a paean to both jazz and those Italians and Italian Americans who had a large hand in creating this truly indigenous American art form. Although already familiar with the history of jazz and many of the Italian artists in the book, I was still introduced to new material and had my memory jogged, which made the entire reading of the book a marvelous, vicarious experience.

- Anthony J. Agostinelli, Professor (retired), Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island

Customer Reviews

Amazon 4-Star Rating I found this book entertaining and informative. Dal Cerro and Witter did much research in compiling this text. It reads as if a cousin were telling you stories, not just historically, but with the personal anecdotes that really bring the stories to life. This book has further prompted my interest in jazz and desire to explore more of the offerings of live music.

I highly recommend this text.

- Rebecca Sartus, customer reviewer