Michael E. Ross
March 08, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Blue Devils of Nada

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Albert Murray
publisher
Pantheon
genre
Essays, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

The blues has its putative origin with plantation workers in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, but for undersung novelist and essayist Albert Murray, the figurative ”territory of the blues” is America itself. In the collection of essays The Blue Devils of Nada, Murray shows how the music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie has common ground with the writing of Ernest Hemingway and the paintings and collages of Romare Bearden. Sometimes a scholarly, didactic tone comes through, making an emotional topic sound like a treatise. But for the most part, Murray imbues his subject with passion, in prose that’s both a vibrant symphony and a righteous riff. B+

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