John Szwed’s new biography, ALAN LOMAX: The Man Who Recorded the World (Viking, $29.95), chronicles Lomax’s pioneering field recording, research, and dissemination of music from around the U.S., and the world. His collection spans recordings from the age of wax cylinders all the way to our own age of instant global diffusion. There is, even more pertinently, a chapter on Lomax’s first big recording project for the Library of Congress—in Haiti. Last year, some of these priceless recordings were issued in a deluxe box set: ALAN LOMAX IN HAITI, 1936-1937 (Harte Recordings, 10 CDs, $129.99) includes two books containing extensive notes and Lomax’s journal, a replica of the map he used, and color video footage. There are extensive annotations by Haitian scholar Gage Averill. The box set is nominated for two Grammys: Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.
My thanks to Judith Dollenmayer for sending word of the new book.