DREAM LUCKY by Roxane Orgill




Dream Lucky, the new book by Roxane Orgill (Smithsonian Books 236pp) would make splendid firestarter for a film.  Subtitled "When FDR was in the White House, Count Basie was on the radio, and everyone wore a hat…" the book is a beautiful stroll through the late 1930s using the Roosevelt administration, with Eleanor as an essential and quite resonant subtext, and the parallel evolution of Count Basie from territory band member then band chief, to his not-without-pitfalls conquering of Manhattan, to renowned road warrior bandleader to provide vivid context to the era.  Included also are chapters that shine a vivid light on the big band contrasts between the Benny Goodman and Chick Webb (with Ella as subtext in the manner of Eleanor to Franklin) outfits and their eventual historic confrontation at the Savoy Ballroom.  I found the passages on Reverends Adam Clayton Powell Sr. and (and eventual congressman) Jr. particularly strong, especially Jr.’s dogged and dashing determination and boycott leadership to open up Harlem businesses as employers of it’s black residents.  As they say in the publishing game, this is a true page-turner and highly recommended.  Ms. Orgill handles this colorful period in our history with aplomb and wry humor.



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