Bauer, William R. 1957-

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BAUER, William R. 1957-

PERSONAL: Born May 23, 1957, in Queens, NY; son of John Edwin (a surveyor) and Helen Ruth (a nurse; maiden name, Wohlrab) Bauer; married Marjorie H. Spring (divorced); children: Conrad William, Isaac Hornblower, Declan Darrow Spring (stepson), Evan Harris Spring (stepson). Ethnicity: "Anglo-American". Education: Empire State College, State University of New York, B.S. (music), 1981; Columbia University, M.A. (music, composition), 1987; City University of New York Graduate Center, Ph.D. (music, composition), 1996.

ADDRESSES: Home—893 Montgomery St., No. 3, Jersey City, NJ 07306. Off?ce—Dept. of Performing and Creative Arts, College of Staten Island/CUNY, 2800 Victory Blvd., Room 1P-203, Staten Island, NY 10314. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, assistant professor of music, 1994—.


Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2002.

Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Current Musicology, Downbeat, Jazz Educator's Journal, American Dalcroze Journal, and Annual Review of Jazz Studies.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Betty Carter: Finest Hour, CD liner notes, Verve Records; research of the jazz scene in Newark, NJ.

SIDELIGHTS: William R. Bauer's career has been greatly influenced by his love of the music of jazz great Betty Carter, and he immortalized the singer in his biography Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter, called a "labor of love" by Library Journal's Harold V. Cordry. Carter, who died in 1998 at the age of sixty-nine, gave her blessing to the book and cooperated with Bauer until her death. Bauer also received assistance from Carter's family, friends, and fellow musicians, including John Hicks, her long-time accompanist.

The better part of the book focuses on Carter's career and biography. Bauer also goes into detail about her professional development and recordings and includes analyses of her solos, along with transcriptions of words and/or scat. Craig Jolley, who reviewed the book for the Web site All about Jazz, noted that Bauer "has invented a phonetic system to notate the pronunciation, accents, and rhythms of her solos that gives insight into what she was up to." Bauer includes a discography and videography, incorporating a number of private recordings. Jolley wrote that Open the Door "is probably the most scholarly and informative biography of a jazz singer published so far."

Carter was born Lillie Mae Jones in Flint, Michigan and grew up in Detroit. When she was sixteen she attended performances by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. She left Detroit at age nineteen to join Lionel Hampton and his band, and several years later she moved to East Orange, New Jersey. She recorded albums and appeared at theaters that included the Regal in Chicago and the Apollo in New York, often with musicians such as Ray Charles and Miles Davis. Her album with Charles was well received. Carter married James Redding and had two sons, Myles and Kagle. The family lived in Irvington, New Jersey for approximately ten years.

With the increased popularity of rock and roll after the 1950s, jazz singers like Carter found it difficult to earn a comfortable living. Although Carter occasionally performed in Newark, by 1967 her career had come to a halt. She took her sons first to Detroit, then to the West Coast to see if there might be more opportunity for a jazz singer, but she eventually returned to Newark where she eked out a living with help from Jazz Spot-lite Productions, managed by Jim Harrison. In 1970 Carter formed her own label, Bet-Car Records. Bauer documents the singer's strength in taking control of her career in spite of racial and gender discrimination.

Carter moved to Brooklyn, New York, and by the mid-1970s had launched a comeback that earned her international recognition and a 1988 Grammy Award. Her last performance in Newark was in 1997 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and she was still touring when pancreatic cancer took her life in 1998.

Betty Spero wrote in the Newark Star-Ledger that Bauer "relates easily to the subject of his new biography." A Publishers Weekly reviewer said that Bauer "skillfully interweaves his discussion of Carter's compositions and performances with her life story."

Bauer told CA: "Trained as a composer, I came to jazz scholarship through my love of Betty Carter's work. My introduction of phonemic analysis of jazz vocal improvisation opens up new pathways for understanding in concrete terms how jazz singers use their instrument expressively. As a teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, I am also interested in the ways singers embody their artistry through physical movement."



Black Issues Book Review, May, 2002, review of Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter, p. 32.

Choice, October, 2002, T. E. Buehrer, review of Open the Door, p. 288.

Library Journal, April 15, 2002, Harold V. Cordry, review of Open the Door, p. 86.

Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2002, review of Open the Door, p. 53.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), April 5, 2002, Bette Spero, review of Open the Door, p. 42.


All about Jazz, (May 2, 2002), Craig Jolley, review of Open the Door.*