• This edition offers two accounts of the events surrounding Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk’s performance at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival — a story that is, according to Thelonious Monk biographer Robin D.G. Kelley, “shrouded in myth.”

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

     

  • 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.

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

  • Great Encounters: Miles and Monk at Newport, 1955
  • "You Blows What You Is" -- a story by Ruth Knafo Setton
  • A Moment in Time: Art Pepper, Los Angeles, 1956
  • Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 17
billie2 Literature

“The Day Lady Died” — a poem by Frank O’Hara

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
Three days after Bastille Day, yes
It is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
Because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
At 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
And I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
And have a hamburger and a malted and buy
[…] Continue reading »

ellamarch12 Art

The Photography of Carl Van Vechten

The publication of a new biography on Carl Van Vechten has sparked a renewed interest in his work. Critic, author and patron of many a Harlem Renaissance artist, Van Vechten was also an accomplished photographer, whose work was described by a New York Telegraph reporter in 1933 as “breathtaking…each [photo] with life and sparkle, vision and intelligence.”

His access to the artists led to a portfolio of what he called “purely documentary” photographs of a “who’s who” of early-to-mid 20th Century American cultural icons — including some of the era’s finest writers and musicians. Emily Bernard, author of Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance writes that “Van Vechten always saw the act of taking a photograph as […] Continue reading »

sugarray1 Quiz Show

Monday Jazz Quiz #29

Who was known as the “middleweight champion of the tenor?”

John Coltrane

Johnny Griffin

Ike Quebec

Gene Ammons

Hank Mobley

Eddie Lockjaw Davis

Cannonball Adderley

Cleanhead Vinson

[…] Continue reading »

louis Features » Book Excerpts

Book excerpt from Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism, by Thomas Brothers

On the heels of terrific books on Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington comes Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism, author and Duke University Music Professor Thomas Brothers’ follow-up to his revered Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans.

In the book’s introduction, Brothers reports that his book picks up where Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans left off, with Armstrong’s 1922 Chicago arrival, and ends ten years later. He writes, “My main thesis is that the success of this nimble-minded musician depended on his ability to skillfully negotiate the musical and social legacies of slavery. Indeed, his career can be understood as a response to these interlocking trajectories.” I have just begun reading it and have been taken in by “Welcome to Chicago,” the book’s first chapter that tells the story of what Armstrong would have seen as he entered Lincoln Gardens for the first time in August, 1922; for example, the racially inflected floor show whose “centerpiece of the presentation is a row of light-skinned dancing girls;” dancing couples in an environment where “correct dancing is insisted upon” (to keep immorality charges at bay); and the local white musicians — “alligators” — described as “the little white boys…motivated to learn the music and cash in.”

I had the privilege of interviewing Thomas Brothers following the publication of Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans, and he has accepted my invitation for an interview about his new book. It is […] Continue reading »