• Having just been released from serving a ten month drug related prison sentence at Terminal Island, the distinctive alto saxophonist Art Pepper re-entered the Los Angeles jazz scene in 1956 – still undeniably talented and hopelessly drug-addicted.

  • “You Blows What You Is” is the winning entry in our 41st Short Fiction Contest

     

  • An excerpt from What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing, in which author Brian Seibert recounts a time when the connection between jazz and tap began to grow strained — through no fault of the great hoofer Baby Laurence, who adapted tap to bebop.  

  • In this edition, Paul writes about the album cover art of Erik Nitsche, a pioneer of modern design

  • A Moment in Time: Art Pepper, Los Angeles, 1956
  • "You Blows What You Is" -- a story by Ruth Knafo Setton
  • Book Excerpt from What the Eye Hears
  • Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 17
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“Hollywood’s Fake Version of Nina Simone”

In an opinion piece titled “Hollywood’s Fake Version of Nina Simone,” the New York Times’ Brent Staples takes on the decision to cast Zoe Saldana as Ms. Simone in the upcoming film Nina. The casting controversy involves whether or not Ms. Saldana’s skin is dark enough, especially considering that, as Staples writes, “Ms. Simone’s embrace of her blackness was essential to both her art and who she was as a person, and that any number of talented

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tap Features » Book Excerpts

From What the Eye Hears — when the connection between jazz music and tap dancing became strained

I have been spending some time recently with an excellent new book, What the Eye Hears — A History of Tap Dancing. Written by New York Times dance critic Brian Seibert, the book — recently named a finalist for the National Book Critics Award in Nonfiction — is an informative, entertaining history of tap dancing, and a reminder of its central role in American popular culture. A particularly interesting part of its history is its relation to jazz music, especially in the vaudeville circuit and in the nightclubs of the early twentieth century.

Regarding this, Seibert wrote in an email to me: “Jazz and tap dancing grew up together. Both came, in W.C. Handy’s words, ‘down the same drain’ of minstrelsy, and origin stories for ragtime include the syncopated stepping of

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