Few music writers had the resume of San Francisco’s Ralph J. Gleason: Columbia University School of Journalism; critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, where, in 1950, his criticism of popular music was the first such column in an American daily newspaper (before Gleason, newspapers regularly reviewed classical music only); produced the Jazz Casual television show for public television; witnessed and reported on all of the happenings of San Francisco during a time now known as the “San Francisco Renaissance,” when Gleason effectively connected the diverse endeavors of the era’s progressive musicians, literary figures, and comedians into an artistic aesthetic; co-founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival; writer on many a jazz record liner note (the next time you pull out Miles’ Bitches Brew, check out Gleason’s poetic description); contributing writer to Ramparts; co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine.
John Gennari, author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics – itself an important history of jazz journalism – described Gleason as “the jazz critic who […] Continue reading »
Our “Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion” feature — where we pose one question via email to a small number of prominent and diverse people — is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited. We are currently in the midst of producing the current edition, in which we are asking the question, “Who was your childhood hero?”
Here is famed vibraphonist Gary Burton’s contribution, received earlier this week: […] Continue reading »
Harlem Night Club
Sleek black boys in a cabaret.
Play, plAY, PLAY!
White girls’ eyes
Call gay black boys.
Black boys’ lips
Grin jungle joys.
[…] Continue reading »
Richard Boyer’s entertaining and candid New Yorker profile of Duke Ellington first appeared in the June 24, 1944 edition under the title “The Hot Bach I.” (Parts “II” and “III” were published in subsequent weeks). Described by Ellington biographer Terry Teachout as “the most comprehensive journalistic account of Ellington’s life and work to appear in his lifetime,” the feature is filled with now well-known Ellington history (for example, his approach to composition and his appetite for food, women and the Bible), social history (Boyer’s casual description of the racial discrimination the band encounters on the road is notable), and some humorous interplay between Ellington and writing partner Billy Strayhorn, described at the time by Boyer as a “staff arranger.” The piece is a terrific companion to Teachout’s book, and another reminder of how important The New Yorker has been to the arts over the years. […] Continue reading »
This vocalist’s recording of “My Blue Heaven” was considered the top-selling recording of all-time prior to 1942, when Bing Crosby recorded “White Christmas.” Who was he?
Jelly Roll Morton […] Continue reading »