JAZZ ON MY MIND ... The memoirs of internationally acclaimed jazz enthusiast Herb Wong will come to life at Kepler's Books on Sunday, Aug. 7, when Paul Simeon Fingerote presents photographs, recordings and Wong's behind-the-scenes stories of legendary jazz greats from Wong's and Fingerote's new book, "Jazz on My Mind: Liner Notes, Anecdotes and Conversations from the 1940s to the 2000s." Wong -- a longtime Menlo Park resident who hosted a show on San Francisco's KJAZ for more than 35 years and wrote more than 400 liner notes for many of the great jazz musicians -- died two years ago before finishing the book. Fingerote, a friend and colleague, completed the book, which was released by McFarland & Company in April. "Jazz on my Mind" provides readers with a curated vision of America's music genre and includes much of Wong's "encyclopedic knowledge" of jazz history, which was often called upon by CNN, PBS and the Smithsonian Institution. The collection is organized as if it were an extended play CD, with "tracks" for each instrument, from to trumpet to vibraphone, to vocals. Wong also taught jazz at Palo Alto High School at night and started the Stanford Jazz festival. Student musicians dedicated to upholding Wong's legacy will perform compositions taken from the book at the release party. "A Jazzy Afternoon at Kepler's: Celebrating the Life of Herb Wong" will take place at 2 p.m. at 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. The event is free.
MIDNIGHT WITH POTTER ... Harry Potter fans can celebrate the release of the eighth book in J.K Rowling's series at special midnight release parties at Kepler's Books and Books Inc. in Palo Alto and Mountain View. "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition)" is the official script book of the London production debuting on Saturday, July 30 -- the same day as the book's official release. Written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, the script is based on an original story by J.K. Rowling. Kepler's will host an evening of wizardry with themed crafts, games, trivia and costumes starting at 10 p.m. on July 30. Book's Inc. will hold an all-day countdown to the book's midnight release with Not Your Mother's Book Club! and will have themed games, treats and crafts at its Palo Alto location starting at 10 p.m. Auntie Dori will host an hour of themed activities at the Mountain View store starting at 11 p.m.. Book's Inc. is giving 20 percent of proceeds from pre-orders to Addison Elementary School and the SF Education Fund. Kepler's Books is at 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. To reserve a space at the release party or pre-order a book, go to keplers.com/event/potter. Book's Inc.'s Palo Alto store is at 855 El Camino Real, #74, and its Mountain View location is at 301 Castro St. To pre-order a book (which provides two guests admission to the release parties), go to booksinc.net
FORGOTTEN PIONEER ... During the Great Depression, Henry Alsberg rose from journalist to formidable social justice pioneer while serving as director of the Federal Writers' Project, part of the Works Progress Administration's New Deal program.
Susan Rubenstein DeMasi's newly released biography, "Henry Alsberg: The Driving Force of the New Deal Federal Writers' Project," brings to light this pivotal but forgotten figure of the 20th century. As Project director, Alsberg helped thousands of unemployed writers find work and produced more than 1,000 publications and an unprecedented collection of more than 10,000 oral histories from ex-slaves and immigrants, despite attacks from the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Alsberg also was a leader in the struggle to aid Jewish pogrom survivors in Eastern Europe and initiated the first major effort to assist international political prisoners. In his final years, Alsberg lived Palo Alto with his sister, Elsa, a longtime director of the Palo Alto Fair Play council. "Henry Alsberg: The Driving Force of the New Deal Federal Writers' Project" (McFarland & Company) is available at amazon.com.
PALY GRAD 'CROSSING THE LINES' ... Palo Alto High School graduate Tony Acarasiddhi Press has released a collection of short stories about life and love in his new book, "Crossing the Lines." Press' works, which include poems, essays and short stories, have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and a Million Writers Award. "Crossing the Lines" (Big Table Publishing Co.) is now available at the East Palo Alto Library and at amazon.com.