Under the stars, we danced to your song.
She held me tight, while you, Artie,
With your clarinet, brought the music alive.
What rapture, that night! All the time,
she was whispering to me about
this and that…
There were no clouds that night,
no curse of life’s dark embers, not a one.
The tenderness in her eyes, in her voice,
[…] Continue reading »
Under the stars, we danced to your song.
In the March, 1945 Down Beat, under the headline “Herman’s Is Finest Ofay Swing Band,” Frank Stacy wrote this about Woody Herman and his “Herd.”
Woody Herman has the greatest ofay band in the country — bar none! That’s what all the band popularity contests said this year and that’s just the way I feel about it. Out of 1,606 swing fans who named the Herman Herd their favorite dispenser of jive in Down Beat‘s annual contest, undoubtedly some (the bobby soxers) cast their votes that way because they go for the snappy corduroy jackets that Woody sports on the stand. Most fans, however, pick Woody’s crew for its crack over-all musicianship, for its up-to-the-minute presentation of advanced big band orchestrations, for Woody’s superior talents as an instrumentalist, singer, showmanly stick-waver, and, above all, for his grasp of the right band ideas.
In addition to the band’s excellence that Stacy opines on, the band was filled with interesting and humorous personalities — among them the pot head (bassist Chubby Jackson) and the practical joker (trombonist Bill Harris). Check out this story about one of Harris’s best “jokes,” excerpted from […] Continue reading »
Although only one story wins our thrice yearly Short Fiction Contest, since we typically receive well over 100 entrants, often times there are several worthy of publication. Our last competition, our 37th, was won by Kenneth Levine. His short story “Homage” — about the effect Chet Baker’s drug addiction had on a father and son relationship — was published on November 4.
A finalist in the competition was Adam Murray’s “Silent City,” an excellent story about “how we can’t have the things we can no longer have because they no longer exist.” In this case, what we can’t have again is the 1940’s jazz laboratory known as Minton’s Playhouse. When I sent an email to Murray requesting his permission to allow me to publish “Silent City,” he wrote back and agreed, informing me that he had written this story specifically for Jerry Jazz Musician and “from there just kinda’ crossed my fingers.” In that same email, Murray wrote; “I’m currently homeless in Australia and penned this piece with my back to the brickwork behind a little jazz joint here called Ellington’s, digging on the swing, the night and the street, so your acceptance is a fitting coda for me. I’d be honoured to appear in your publication with like minded souls and voices.”
Murray’s email is an extraordinary reminder […] Continue reading »
Toward the end of her life, Ella Fitzgerald, “The First Lady of Song,” faced several health challenges, most stemming from her battle with diabetes. The effects of the disease resulted in the amputation of her legs, and famously contributed to the debilitation of her eyesight. (Who can forget her frequent television appearances, when each successive performance seemed to bring new eye wear fashion and a more powerful eyeglass prescription). But it was her respiratory ailments and congestive heart failure that brought some of the biggest names in jazz together for a fund raiser sponsored by the American Heart Association Avery Fisher Hall in February of 1990. Hosted by Lena Horne and violinist Itzhak Perlman, “Hearts For Ella” featured a Benny Carter-led band that included […] Continue reading »
In yesterday’s New York Times, in a piece titled “In Ethiopia’s Capital, a Resurgent Jazz Scene,” Rachel Doyle writes; “Nowadays jazz concerts take place all over the city (Addis Ababa), and on nearly every night of the week a clarinet is being played in a mirrored discothèque in an old hotel, or in a smoky one-room club near the airport. But even though Ethio-jazz dates from the 1960s, its reappearance in the capital is a fairly new development” The piece is an excellent look at […] Continue reading »