by Patty Farmer (with contributions by Will Friedwald)
If you would like to think of Hugh Hefner as something more than a pajama wearing old man who "dates" several young women at once on a tv show, then you will be happy to know that the Playboy magazine founder is a very central figure in jazz history.
I haven't quite finished the book yet, but Patty Farmer's deeply researched and (vividly)-written account of the founding of the Playboy clubs is fun, intimate, and surprisingly weighty in a readable way.
Playboy Swings contains lots of name dropping. Celebrities and other famous people show up on seemingly every page, but it isn't obtrusive, instead Farmer's narrative flows smoothly through the history of what many call the "only true American music."
In addition to many of the artists whose careers were helped by Hefner and his clubs, we are introduced to many others who played crucial roles in the promotion of jazz. These relatively minor characters flesh the history out in ways no amount of research ever could.
It's not Patty Farmer's fault I haven't yet finished the book. I am in the midst of one of the busiest times of my life, but I am determined to finish this master class on a subject I didn't know I wanted to take.
I have already decided that this book will make a wonderful Christmas gift for one of my jazz crazy friends. This book is truly a hidden gem. You would do well to read it yourself and I know you have a friend or two that would enjoy it as well.