Book Review: Nelson Riddle: Music with a Heartbeat by Geoffrey Littlefield with Christopher Riddle

NELSON RIDDLE was possibly the greatest; one of the most successful arrangers in the history of American popular music. He worked with global icons such as Peggy Lee, Judy Garland and many more. And in a time of segregation and deep racial tensions in the US, he collaborated with leading black artists such as Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, forming close, personal friendships with both. He also wrote successful TV themes and Oscar-winning film scores.

A complex and often forlorn genius, he will forever be remembered for his immortal work with FRANK SINATRA, but like fine wines his later vintage was just as palatable, if somewhat of a surprise.

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My Review

This biography of Nelson Riddle is pretty interesting. I had never heard of him, but I’m not one to pay attention to who composed what. The information about Frank Sinatra and the relationship he had with Nelson Riddle was particularly interesting.

A lot of the details in this biography are given by Nelson Riddle’s son Christopher and some by other siblings. Christopher was also a composer and has been the leader of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra for over 30 years, so he knows a lot about what happened behind the scenes as he got older.

One tidbit I never knew is that the Rat Pack that was so famous with fans wasn’t the original Rat Pack! Frank Sinatra was the only member of the original Rat Pack, and he didn’t like the “new” group being called that.

Nelson Riddle worked with Frank Sinatra for over 25 years but he also worked with Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Linda Ronstadt among many others. He was obviously an amazing composer.

I’m sure anyone interested in 40s and 50s music and/or 50s and 60s Hollywood would appreciate the information in this book.

About the Author

Geoffrey Littlefield is a baby boomer born in London, England, whose lifelong passions include football, films and music. His first magazine article was published when he was just 13 years old, featuring interviews with Chelsea FC and England soccer players. His love of music grew simultaneously, with particular focus on the Great American Songbook.

Geoffrey eventually moved into professional music management and record production, and his written works include an exclusive interview with singer Vic Damone, who was described by Frank Sinatra “as having the best pipes in the business”.

2021 sees the centennial of the birth of iconic US arranger Nelson Riddle. Geoffrey has penned the authorised biography NELSON RIDDLE: Music With a Heartbeat, published on 26th February 2021.

Geoffrey has been the subject of several radio and television interviews about the Great American Songbook, both in the U.K. and U.S. He continues to write, produce and direct. He has two movie screenplays in development and a documentary set for release later in 2021.

New Release: Nelson Riddle – Music with a Heartbeat

Christopher Riddle has contributed several first-hand accounts and memories to his father’s biography

About the Book:       

NELSON RIDDLE was possibly the greatest; one of the most successful arrangers in the history of American popular music. He worked with global icons such as Peggy Lee, Judy Garland and many more. And in a time of segregation and deep racial tensions in the US, he collaborated with leading black artists such as Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, forming close, personal friendships with both. He also wrote successful TV themes and Oscar-winning film scores.

A complex and often forlorn genius, he will forever be remembered for his immortal work with Frank Sinatra, but like fine wines his later vintage was just as palatable, if somewhat of a surprise.

About the Author:

Geoffrey Littlefield is a baby boomer born in London, England, whose lifelong passions include football, films and music. His first magazine article was published when he was just 13 years old, featuring interviews with Chelsea FC and England soccer players. His love of music grew simultaneously, with particular focus on the Great American Songbook.

Geoffrey eventually moved into professional music management and record production, and his written works include an exclusive interview with singer Vic Damone. He has been the subject of several radio and television interviews about the Great American Songbook, both in the U.K. and U.S. Geoffrey continues to write, produce and direct. He has two movie screenplays in development and a documentary set for release later in 2021.


Excerpt from the book:

“We delve deep into an extraordinary musical legacy that saw Riddle win one of the first Grammy’s, an Oscar (after five nominations) for The Great Gatsby and spawned countless hit singles and albums.

Through family personal photographs of recording sessions, live performances and interviews with those who knew him well, my book explores the musical genius behind some of the greatest popular tunes of the 20th Century. My own knowledge and expertise in that field has been greatly enhanced by this journey of discovery.

But, like so many creative souls, Riddle was a complex and troubled figure; his marriage to Doreen, with whom he had seven children, was rocky to say the least. The maestro led a complicated and troubled personal life – perhaps never really finding the kind of peace or success in his private life that he enjoyed in his professional one. His marriage was constantly under threat by his numerous affairs.

And in spite of the mutual admiration, Sinatra always had a wandering eye. When Frank chose to have his own ‘professional sleeping around’ with other arrangers in the late 1950s, Riddle began another fruitful collaboration, recording with Ella Fitzgerald. Their work together included three of her landmark “songbook” albums, devoted to George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer.”

“Nelson Riddle:  Music with a Heartbeat” by Geoffrey Littlefield is available in hardback from Amazon at:

This book is also available in paperback from Amazon at:

Press/Media Contact Details:

Geoff Littlefield
Tel. 01252 710703, mob. 07757 788767
E-mail: glittlefield@live.com

Book Review: Darci the Drummer Takes Drum Lessons by Jeremy Bridgman

Darci the Drummer is a picture book for children ages 4 to 9 and brings to life the story of a 2nd grade girl who is a passionate drummer at heart, bashing away to the beat with natural rhythm on anything she can find when she hears a good song. Darci dreams of the day when she can play on a real drum set with skill. However, her little brother hates the raucous noises she makes, and she has no idea how she can even become a “real” drummer. Despite the criticism from her brother, and ensuing self-doubt, her parents help show her the way by surprising her with drum lessons and the encouragement to keep working at something she loves. Darci the Drummer invokes the passion of music and of learning how to play an instrument; it introduces children to various musical terms and the names of some influential drummers that span different musical genres; and it highlights the importance of musical education and the determination needed to improve oneself through practice.

The concept for Darci the Drummer formed as a result of Bridgman’s own musical adventures at a young age, along with the experience of music lessons that his own children are blessed to receive today. Bridgman was also inspired by the delight that has been exhibited by many who have sat down at his drum sets for fun, and the perseverance that he encourages in his children when facing doubt, struggle, and criticism.

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MY REVIEW

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Darci is always drumming on things. Rather than telling her to be quiet, her parents encourage her and tell her they think she has real talent. They surprise her with drum lessons! She’s excited but once she finds out how much work it’s going to be to be a good drummer, she momentarily has doubts. Once she has the tools she needs though, she’s ready to get busy learning all she can.

Darci the Drummer has colorful illustrations on every page by Gabbi Steiger that should help keep the interest of younger children. It also has a good story that encourages children to pursue their passion, something I’ve always thought was important. I like how other learning opportunities are included such as showing the names of some of items in the drum set and explaining what a metronome does. My favorite extra learning “extra” was that when a color is mentioned, that word is that color, for example gold.

I definitely think this is a great book for children 4 to 9 to enjoy and learn at the same time.

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ABOUT JEREMY BRIDGMAN:

Jeremy is an active member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators and a life-long musician, currently playing the drums in various music groups along with composing and producing music in his home studio, located in the charming downtown Westchester neighborhood of Bakersfield, California. He is also the proud father of four musical children, and husband to a lovely piano teacher and singer. He manages his own company with multiple distinct aspects, consisting of IT services and support; music recording, production, and performance; book authorship; and more.

Darci the Drumm​er is meant to encourage children to pursue their musical interests and education,” says Bridgman. “In an age where music and arts programs are continuing to see a cut in funding, it’s important to begin fostering the passion for music at a young age.  I hope children of all ages remember the absolute joy Darci experiences when it comes to her love of playing the drums, and to use that joy to connect to their own interests and passions.”

 Darci the Drummer is available for purchase through AmazonBarnes and Noble, and other fine retailers. Learn more by visiting www.darcithedrummer.com, or connect with the author on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

Guest Post by Husky Harlequin, author of Time’s Alibi

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Music to My Ears

Husky Harlequin Guest Post 

Music is a universal language.  We find it in our cars, on our phones, at weddings, and in our movies.  Music stitches together the everyday junctions as well and the defining moments of our lives.  In 2006, I got an idea.  What if I made a soundtrack for myself, one that expressed who I am, my life up to that point?  I shared this inspiration with my family and close friends and we came away with a simple challenge:  make a personal soundtrack and share it with others.  The only rule was it had to fit on a single CD.  I’m dating myself, I know.  With excitement, I retreated to my laptop.  The project proved to be tricky taking several iterations to get right.  I mixed nostalgia with grunge, grace with hope.  I even found my anthem.  What I produced was timeless—at least for me—a snapshot of who I am.  In the end, I gave and received many personal soundtracks.  I was surprised how much I learned about my friends and family through their selections.  Some took a chronological approach while others, like myself, took a holistic approach.  Some even enjoyed putting liner notes together to enhance the experience.  Here is Volume One of my Soundtrack.  I’d love to hear yours.

 

  1. Interstate Love Song – Stone Temple Pilots
  1. Free to Decide – The Cranberries
  1. Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town – Pearl Jam
  1. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
  1. These Are Days – 10,000 Maniacs
  1. Nightswimming – R.E.M.
  1. Guitar – Cake
  1. Dance with Angels – Lisa Loeb
  1. The World Has Turned and Left Me Here – Weezer
  1. #41 – Dave Matthews Band
  1. Stoned – Dido
  1. Fell on Black Days – Soundgarden
  1. Life Uncommon – Jewel
  1. She Said – Collective Soul
  1. Wildflowers – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  1. A Long December – Counting Crows
  1. This Time of Year – Better than Ezra
  1. In My Life – The Beatles

 

In Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave, Andrew and his grandfather, David, have bonded over music.  It is the one thing they can talk about when nothing else makes sense.  Andrew is remembering his grandfather and decides to write his story.  David’s history blends with Andrew’s in the same way our own lives blossom in the presence of our loved ones.  As a tribute to David, Andrew constructs and shares his own Soundtrack.  You can find it listed as chapter titles in the book.  Check it out.  Take a read.  Take a listen.

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