I can't exactly place when Mike Gerber and Five Leaves started discussing a book on Jews and jazz, but the earliest saved email exchange was on 13/06/2003. Perhaps we were discussing it before email, or even movable type, it feels so long ago. At times it felt like the messiah would arrive before the book did. But unless the messiah gets his or her skates on, Mike's book will be out first.
Many people have been waiting for this book. Some have grown old while waiting. But it is on its way, 656 pages in all, which is about 500 pages larger than we originally planned, with an index featuring 7,000 names from all over the world as the book also became an international survey. And quite a few quid more than we'd planned, but, you know, inflation and all that.
I guess that other such books - not that there are any like this one - would be written by an academic on sabbatical, or a writer on a good advance, published by a publisher with a big editorial team. But Mike is a freelance journalist, with all the pressures that brings, and a family, which is probably living in dire poverty now because of all the CDs he had to buy and Five Leaves is only a small publisher which sometimes bites off more than it can chew.
Thanks to those who have waited. Just wait a little bit longer. This won't be the last word on Jews and jazz, just many tens of thousands of words as a contribution to a discussion.
Meantime, here's a picture of the Makabi club orchestra from Siauliai (Shavl in Yiddish) in Lithuania in 1932, courtesy of the Siauiliai Austros Museum.