Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
Tiger Rag
Cover of Tiger Rag
Tiger Rag
A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow

The acclaimed author of Veronica and A Trip to the Stars returns with a dazzling new novel based on one of the great legends of musical history.

New Orleans, 1900.The virtuoso cornet player Charles "Buddy" Bolden invents jazz, but after a life consumed by tragedy, the groundbreaking sound of his horn vanishes with him. Rumors persist, though, that Bolden recorded a phonograph cylinder, and over the course of a century it evolves into the elusive holy grail of jazz.

Florida, the present day. Dr. Ruby Cardillo's life is falling apart. Her husband, a prominent cardiologist, has left her for a twenty-six-year-old. Her daughter, Devon, a once promising jazz pianist, has recently finished an enforced stint picking up trash along the interstate after a drug conviction. Ruby's estranged mother has just died, but not before conjuring up ghosts that Ruby thought she had put behind her long ago. After a long career as a well-respected anesthesiologist, Ruby suddenly jumps the tracks, forgetting to eat and sleep, indulging her every whim, wearing only purple, consuming only bottles of 1988 Château Latour.

Then Ruby enlists Devon to accompany her on an impulsive road trip to New York, and both mother and daughter get more than they bargained for, discovering that their own shrouded family history is connected to the tantalizing search for Buddy Bolden's long-lost cylinder.

Ranging from turn-of-the-century Louisiana to Roaring Twenties Chicago to contemporary Manhattan, Tiger Rag is at once a moving story of loss and redemption and an intricate historical mystery from one of our most brilliant storytellers.

Praise for Tiger Rag

"The structure here is like a long and complex jazz arrangement. There is a comparatively simple theme set up against what might be thought of as distinctive chord changes. And then, against this main story, the author sets up what might be seen as highly individualistic solos. The themes of the male performers and the female audiences come together, separate, then come together again. If you love the world of jazz, if it's a little like a religion to you, you'll love this ambitious, thoughtful novel." --The Washington Post

"Describing music in a book is a bit like trying to describe color to a blind person; it rarely goes well. The opening stretch of Nicholas Christopher's latest novel Tiger Rag, however, paints a picture of a jazz recording session so vividly that the reader might want to keep a towel handy for mopping his brow James Brown-style." --GQ.com

"Nicholas Christopher's new novel, Tiger Rag, is a New Year's treat that lovers of good music and good writing should not deny themselves. . . . Nicholas is a master at building a rich story populated with vivid characters on the bare foundation of historical record. Although no recording of Bolden and his band has yet surfaced, his sideman Willy Cornish, a trombone player, died claiming a recording session took place. Nicholas has imagined a satisfying and engrossing tale about what might have happened. He has fleshed out the lives touched by the wax cylinders that stored three versions of "Tiger Rag." From the musicians who played with or followed Bolden, to the recording engineer and his assistant at the fateful recording session, Nicholas has created a colourful cast whose stories draw readers into their lives. . . . Nicholas is a poet as well as a novelist, and the book sings, thanks to his compelling descriptions and use of imagery. . . . [C]ompulsively readable." --The Toronto Star

From...

The acclaimed author of Veronica and A Trip to the Stars returns with a dazzling new novel based on one of the great legends of musical history.

New Orleans, 1900.The virtuoso cornet player Charles "Buddy" Bolden invents jazz, but after a life consumed by tragedy, the groundbreaking sound of his horn vanishes with him. Rumors persist, though, that Bolden recorded a phonograph cylinder, and over the course of a century it evolves into the elusive holy grail of jazz.

Florida, the present day. Dr. Ruby Cardillo's life is falling apart. Her husband, a prominent cardiologist, has left her for a twenty-six-year-old. Her daughter, Devon, a once promising jazz pianist, has recently finished an enforced stint picking up trash along the interstate after a drug conviction. Ruby's estranged mother has just died, but not before conjuring up ghosts that Ruby thought she had put behind her long ago. After a long career as a well-respected anesthesiologist, Ruby suddenly jumps the tracks, forgetting to eat and sleep, indulging her every whim, wearing only purple, consuming only bottles of 1988 Château Latour.

Then Ruby enlists Devon to accompany her on an impulsive road trip to New York, and both mother and daughter get more than they bargained for, discovering that their own shrouded family history is connected to the tantalizing search for Buddy Bolden's long-lost cylinder.

Ranging from turn-of-the-century Louisiana to Roaring Twenties Chicago to contemporary Manhattan, Tiger Rag is at once a moving story of loss and redemption and an intricate historical mystery from one of our most brilliant storytellers.

Praise for Tiger Rag

"The structure here is like a long and complex jazz arrangement. There is a comparatively simple theme set up against what might be thought of as distinctive chord changes. And then, against this main story, the author sets up what might be seen as highly individualistic solos. The themes of the male performers and the female audiences come together, separate, then come together again. If you love the world of jazz, if it's a little like a religion to you, you'll love this ambitious, thoughtful novel." --The Washington Post

"Describing music in a book is a bit like trying to describe color to a blind person; it rarely goes well. The opening stretch of Nicholas Christopher's latest novel Tiger Rag, however, paints a picture of a jazz recording session so vividly that the reader might want to keep a towel handy for mopping his brow James Brown-style." --GQ.com

"Nicholas Christopher's new novel, Tiger Rag, is a New Year's treat that lovers of good music and good writing should not deny themselves. . . . Nicholas is a master at building a rich story populated with vivid characters on the bare foundation of historical record. Although no recording of Bolden and his band has yet surfaced, his sideman Willy Cornish, a trombone player, died claiming a recording session took place. Nicholas has imagined a satisfying and engrossing tale about what might have happened. He has fleshed out the lives touched by the wax cylinders that stored three versions of "Tiger Rag." From the musicians who played with or followed Bolden, to the recording engineer and his assistant at the fateful recording session, Nicholas has created a colourful cast whose stories draw readers into their lives. . . . Nicholas is a poet as well as a novelist, and the book sings, thanks to his compelling descriptions and use of imagery. . . . [C]ompulsively readable." --The Toronto Star

From...

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book New Orleans—­July 5, 1904

    Suite 315 at the Hotel Balfour on Oleander Street, the honeymoon suite. The heat was stifling. In the large sitting room the windows were shut tight. A long mahogany table and two chairs were pushed up against the wall. A carpet had been nailed over the door, to block out sound. Myriad scents— lavender hair oil, talcum powder, cinnamon—­were interlaced. Also the lingering smell of lunch: fried catfish and roasted corn. On the table there was a bucket of beer, a pitcher of ice water, glasses. The musicians were accustomed to performing at night, so at four o'clock, with the city bathed in sunlight, they had drawn the curtains.

    The Bolden Band. Seven musicians in a semicircle tuning their instruments: drums, guitar, stand-­up bass, valve trombone, two clarinets, and a cornet, played by Charles Bolden himself. All of them tuning to the cornet, including the drummer, Cornelius Tillman. Bolden would not be accompanied by untuned drums. And he would only play a Conn Wonder, manufactured in Elkhart, Indiana, a triple-­silver-­plated cornet, the inside of the bell gold-­plated, the finger pieces inlaid pearl. In the right hands, Bolden's hands, the Conn could project a powerful sustained sound on a single breath.

    The musicians were in shirtsleeves, sweating, all except the trombonist, Willie Cornish, who never took off his chalk-­striped jacket, even when his shirt was wet through. He kept his hat on, too, for luck. He was studying the sheet music, running his finger along it, pointing out something to Bolden, who nodded and looked away. Bolden didn't want to think about notes on paper when he could already hear himself playing them, could see them dancing in the air. He and Cornish were the only band members who read music. Bolden had learned in church as a boy, Cornish taught himself while working as a pressman at Montgomery Brothers, musical publishers. Bolden was wearing a red shirt, red tie, and yellow silk vest. His handkerchief, too, was red, and after he mopped his neck, the dye ran so that the drops of sweat on the floor looked like blood. Which he was aware of. Also that this was the honeymoon suite, which amused him.

    Oscar Zahn, the recording engineer, was a stocky young man with sharp eyes and a heavy brow. He spoke with a slight German accent. He too was perspiring heavily in a high-­collared shirt and a bow tie. He had a pencil behind his ear. A Turkish cigarette between his lips. He was sitting on a stool in the corner screwing the wax cylinder onto the mandrel of the Edison recorder. It was one of the new Edison Gold Moulded cylinders, hard black wax, playable hundreds of times. Its four-­minute capacity was double that of the old carnauba wax cylinders. Zahn had learned sound engineering at the W. T. Bellmon Studios in St. Louis, recording opera singers and barbershop quartets. He came to New Orleans with his wife and daughter, hoping to save enough money to open his own studio. In the meantime, he was learning how to capture sound cleanly in spaces like this, or—­when the money wasn't there—­far more cramped spaces in basements and back rooms. But Buddy Bolden had the money. He was in demand, every night of the week. In addition to performing with his band, he sometimes made the rounds of a half dozen dance halls, social clubs, and fairgrounds, all for a handsome fee. If you doubled that fee, he would play your private party, sitting in with the hired band and laying down a couple of solos, the flashier the better. But he had never cut a cylinder. He had resisted, not, like some musicians, because he feared his techniques could be...
About the Author-
  • Nicholas Christopher is the author of five previous novels: The Soloist, Veronica, A Trip to the Stars, Franklin Flyer, and The Bestiary; eight books of poetry, including his new and selected poems, Crossing the Equator; and a book on film noir, Somewhere in the Night. He lives in New York City.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 22, 2012
    Poet and novelist Christopher (Veronica) mixes fiction with jazz history in this delightful dual narrative. In July 1904, Charles “Buddy” Bolden, “the father of all jazz trumpeters,” is in New Orleans recording “Tiger Rag” with his band on three Edison wax cylinders. Since the recordings were never released and Bolden never cut another track, their whereabouts are of great significance. Jump to December 2010, when, after a messy divorce, middle-aged Miami anesthesiologist Ruby Cardillo contacts her daughter, Devon Sheresky, a jazz pianist and recovering drug addict. Together they drive to New York City so an increasingly manic Ruby can deliver a professional association speech and Devon can meet with Emmett Browne, an elderly music dealer who attempted to contact her recently deceased grandmother. As the chapters alternate between narratives, the schizophrenic Bolden is locked away at age 29, and one of his recordings makes its way to Devon’s thieving grandfather, journeyman trumpeter Valentine Owen. Emmett tries to conspire with Devon to retrieve the recording from its present owner, the psychic Joan Neptune, who knew and banned the unsavory Valentine. Based on the real-life rumor the recordings exist, Christopher’s intriguing yarn lays out how their zealous guardians have preserved Buddy Bolden’s jazz legacy. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc.

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2012
    The story of history's most enigmatic jazz trumpeter becomes a touchstone for a troubled doctor and her daughter. Talented poet and novelist Christopher (The Bestiary, 2007, etc.) returns to the rich vein of early-20th-century American history for his elegiac and expressive sixth novel. The book opens on a hotel room in New Orleans circa 1904, where seven musicians huddle over their instruments in stifling heat. Christopher captures this long-whispered moment perfectly, as Charles "Buddy" Bolden and his boys lay down three inspired recordings of a song known as "Number 2"--aficionados know it as "Tiger Rag" today-- before fading into the night. From this point, the author folds this rumored bit of jazz history into a modern-day search for the lost cylinders. His protagonist is Ruby Cardillo, a hot mess of a divorcee who's taken to only wearing purple and downing numerous bottles of Bordeaux. She recruits her daughter, jazz pianist and recovering addict Devon, to drive with her to New Orleans so that Ruby can deliver a speech about anesthesiology. In New York, they meet with music dealer Emmett Browne, who believes that Devon's grandfather Valentine Owen was a compatriot of Bolden's who may have squirreled away the legendary recordings. The manic Ruby and damaged Devon's journey makes for fine drama, and Christopher delivers well-drawn and convincing characters in all their screwed-up glory. But the book's wonder comes from Bolden's downward spiral into alcoholism, schizophrenia and dementia, even as Christopher captures one brief moment of clarity. "In 1931 Charles Bolden picked up where he had left off in 1906, just that once stepping back into real time by way of his music, which had thrived in the outside world while he himself was wasting away," he writes. "It was as if, for a few minutes, without being remotely aware of it, much less imagining the possibility in such grand terms, he had been allowed to participate in his own immortality." Red hot and cool.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2012

    The exquisite writer Christopher should be better known; perhaps this juicy new novel will do it. Dr. Ruby Cardillo's cardiologist husband has left her and her estranged mother has died, so she drafts her gifted jazz-musician daughter (just out of rehab) for a trip to snowbound New York, where they hunt for a recording Edison was said to have made.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Washington Post "The structure here is like a long and complex jazz arrangement. There is a comparatively simple theme set up against what might be thought of as distinctive chord changes. And then, against this main story, the author sets up what might be seen as highly individualistic solos. The themes of the male performers and the female audiences come together, separate, then come together again. If you love the world of jazz, if it's a little like a religion to you, you'll love this ambitious, thoughtful novel."
  • The Toronto Star "Nicholas Christopher's new novel, Tiger Rag, is a New Year's treat that lovers of good music and good writing should not deny themselves. . . . Nicholas is a master at building a rich story populated with vivid characters on the bare foundation of historical record. Although no recording of Bolden and his band has yet surfaced, his sideman Willy Cornish, a trombone player, died claiming a recording session took place. Nicholas has imagined a satisfying and engrossing tale about what might have happened. He has fleshed out the lives touched by the wax cylinders that stored three versions of "Tiger Rag." From the musicians who played with or followed Bolden, to the recording engineer and his assistant at the fateful recording session, Nicholas has created a colourful cast whose stories draw readers into their lives. . . . Nicholas is a poet as well as a novelist, and the book sings, thanks to his compelling descriptions and use of imagery. . . . [C]ompulsively readable."
  • Associated Press "Full of outsize charm and drive . . . a moving, page turner of a story that spans a century . . . [P]arallel stories, well-syncopated in Christopher's skilled hands, soon begin to merge, at times in fascinating, unexpected ways. . . . With Tiger Rag, Christopher has reached into jazz history to produce a novel that enriches the Bolden story and is a suspenseful modern drama about a fractured family as well."
  • The Daily Beast "This book is a threefold success: a compelling family drama in the sections set in the present day, a well-controlled piece of historical fiction in the others, and a worthy tribute to jazz music and all its attendant liveliness and messiness throughout."
  • Publisher's Weekly "Poet and novelist Christopher mixes fiction with jazz history in this delightful dual narrative. . . . [an] intriguing yarn."
  • Booklist "Compelling . . . should appeal to jazz buffs eager to read about Bolden, Bechet, Bunk Johnson, et al., however imagined; to the coterie of readers of Bill Moody's similarly themed jazz mysteries; and to fans of the talented and prolific Christopher."
  • New York Post,
  • Required Reading
  • "Based on a legend that jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden made a long-lost recording in 1904 New Orleans of a song that came to be know as "Tiger Rag," Christopher has created a pair of compelling contemporary characters who search for the old Edison cylinder. Dr. Ruby Cardillo is an anesthesiologist who's taken to wearing only purple after her doctor husband dumps her for a 26-year-old. Her jazz-pianist daughter, Devon, is a recovering addict. Together, they try to uncover the secrets of -- and family connections to -- the Holy Grail of jazz."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Random House Publishing Group
  • Kindle Book
    Release date:
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 5 titles every 7 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

MP3 audiobooks are only supported on macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). Learn more about MP3 audiobook support on Macs.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
Tiger Rag
Tiger Rag
A Novel
Nicholas Christopher
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.