Advent calendars across the country are opening their doors. Get 10% off all books and free UK p&p. Offer applied at checkout

As Serious As Your Life

Imprint: Serpent's Tail
Pages: 304
Subject: Non-Fiction, Popular Culture & Music

As Serious As Your Life

John Coltrane and Beyond

Valerie Wilmer

Paperback(Preorder only)
9781788160711 (Published 1 Mar 2018)

About the book

In this classic account of the new black music of the 1960s and 70s, celebrated photographer and jazz historian Val Wilmer tells the story of how a generation of revolutionary musicians established black music as the true vanguard of American culture. Placing the achievements of African-American artists such as Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Sun Ra in their broader political and social context, Wilmer evokes an era of extraordinary innovation and experimentation that continues to inspire musicians today.
As vital now as when it was first published in 1977, As Serious As Your Life is the essential story of one of the most dynamic musical movements of the twentieth century.

About the author

Val Wilmer is an internationally acclaimed photographer, journalist, author and black music historian who has been documenting African-American music since 1959. In that time she has interviewed and photographed almost every significant figure in post-war jazz, blues and R&B, from Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk to Sun Ra and Albert Ayler via Muddy Waters and Aretha Franklin. As a photographer, her work features in the permanent collections of the British Library, the V&A Museum and the National Portrait Gallery; as a writer and historian, she has contributed to the Oxford Dictionary Of National Biography and the New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz. She lives in London.


This book saved me from giving up. Even though the jazz musicians Wilmer wrote about were mostly male, their approach to music making, their passion and their activism resonated with me and showed me a way to move forward musically

- Viv Albertine

The best of those books that found evidence of a black revolution or resurgence in the musical achievements of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and others

- Guardian

A very powerful and proud black book ... it sings the praise-song of the procreators of the new music and their direct descendants

- Coda

An exceptionally illuminating book on jazz now - and on music to come. Indeed, it's one of the relatively few indispensable books about America's classical music

- Nat Hentoff

A fascinating document, full of the energy of political struggle

- Socialist Review

Additional Information

Imprint: Serpent's Tail
Pages: 304
Subject: Non-Fiction, Popular Culture & Music