The Five Spot Café, a club located in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood, was the site of a six month gig for the quartet of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, drummer Shadow Wilson, and bassist Wilbur Ware. This engagement — coming on the heels of Monk’s cabaret card reinstatement — marked the merging of two of the most original voices in American music, Monk and Coltrane, in a space where cheap beer and good music attracted some of the city’s most influential artists and writers. Regulars included Larry Rivers, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jack Kerouac, Frank O’Hara and Allen Ginsberg.
In Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, author Robin D.G. Kelley quotes Five Spot co-owner Joe Termini remembering the impact Monk’s quartet had on his club: “Once we hired Monk, all of a sudden the place was crowded every night. And frankly, in the beginning, I just didn’t understand any of it.” […] Continue reading »
The critic Gary Giddins once told me that fellow jazz writer Dan Morgenstern has the “best ears in the business.” Morgenstern’s work as editor of Down Beat during the 1960′s and 70′s (when it was jazz music’s premier magazine) and as the director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, according to writer Sheldon Mayer helped direct “a generation of jazz scholars and broadened the discussion and range of the discipline.”
In addition to his work at Down Beat and the Institute, I associate Morgenstern’s career with his defense of the latter-day Louis Armstrong, and for the many great liner notes he penned. In the introduction to my 2005 interview with Morgenstern (at the time of the release of his book Living With Music), I wrote: “Dan Morgenstern was the […] Continue reading »
This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Nat King Cole and Dexter Gordon, was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists, and was the only player to turn down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?
Go to the next page for the answer! […] Continue reading »
In his 1973 autobiography Music is My Mistress, Duke Ellington writes about his admiration for Lena Horne. In a footnote to Ellington’s thoughts on Horne, he wrote that he inherited the line he was known to use when telling a woman he thought she was beautiful — “You Make That Hat Look Pretty!” — from his father.
Lena Horne is such a delicate beauty. When she decided it was show business for her, before she became of age, she had to be accompanied by her mother when she came to work at the Cotton Club. From bandstands with Charlie Barnet, she went on to movies, and always with a dignity that […] Continue reading »
In the October 17 edition of the New York Times Magazine, in an article titled “Streaming Music Has Left Me Adrift,” Dan Brooks articulates what many of us who grew up with the long playing record album have long mourned, the passing of the era when consumers “owned” their own music collection based on a dedication of pursuing musical interests.
With the current ability to listen to just about anything ever recorded with merely an insignificant monetary monthly subscription (Brooks calls it “sharing the same record collection”), gone are the days when […] Continue reading »