Watch The Closing Doors


Subtitled: A History Of New York's Musical Melting Pot Vol. 1 (1945-59). Legendary journalist Kris Needs' frighteningly-ambitious project aims to capture the fast-vanishing magic of New York City, documenting major musical landmarks and developments, decade by decade over a series of double-CD sets. The first volume focuses on the 1940s and 1950s, setting the scene for a further five sets, straddling the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and 2000s, each accompanied by a 72-page book containing the relevant musical and social history, artist biographies, illustrations and Needs' own stories and recollections of the city that once never slept. For some local perspective and occasional advice on inclusions, Needs pesters names he has encountered during his 35 years as a writer, starting with Suicide's Martin Rev. For the covers, he applies the graffiti techniques he picked up in New York in the early '80s. The first volume includes jazz giants such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Cozy Cole, Horace Silver, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk, mambo king Machito, the burgeoning activism-fired folk and blues movements represented by Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers, Harry Belafonte, Josh White, Dave Van Ronk, New Lost City Ramblers, Allen Ginsberg heading up the Beats, John Cage and Raymond Scott the avant garde and Cab Calloway the Harlem street-slicker, before Big Joe Turner ushers in the rock 'n' roll revolution along with Clyde McPhatter, Drifters and the Honeycones. Singing the blues are Danny "Run Joe" Taylor, Sonny Terry and Big Maybelle. The female singers which the city became renowned for are beautifully represented by Nina Simone, Faye Adams and Billie Holiday, while the mighty cavalcade of vocal groups who, for many, define New York City, include the Paragons, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, Five Satins and The Embers. Explains Needs, who compiled and annotated two volumes of the highly-successful Dirty Water: The Birth Of Punk Attitude: "There hasn't really been a project which brings together all the different ingredients in New York City's musical melting pot as they happened in parallel scenes and neighborhoods since the war. The sets will aim to reflect the different forms of music which gestated in local scenes, often before exploding onto the world stage; jazz, folk, mambo, rock 'n' roll, soul, avant garde, psychedelia, electronic, punk, hip-hop, disco, electro, house and post-punk."