• “The Blues Museum,” by Jay Franzel

  • This edition tells the story of Billy Taylor’s 1937 visit to Jelly Roll Morton’s Washington, D.C. club, where he witnessed Morton’s “arrogant wisdom”

  • She was born into a family of musicians. Her father had played bass in a jazz band and traveled with Dizzy until an accident had cost him his arm and his career. Getting out of a limousine that had stalled on the highway en route to a gig in Chicago, he opened the car door to

  • Paul shares some of his personal jazz record collection, concentrating on the lesser known and sometimes quirky covers

  • Short Fiction Contest Winning Story
  • Great Encounters: When Billy Taylor saw Jelly Roll Morton
  • "Woman Plays Horn" - a short story by Arya Jenkins
  • Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 14
billie-may1 Literature » Jazz Fiction by Arya Jenkins

“Don’t Threaten Me with Love, Baby” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Chantal Doolittle wasn’t like anybody else she knew. Who else, for example, would stand transfixed before a record player or stereo, still as stone while listening to music — not merely attending to it — her very cells taking in the song, calculating and absorbing. “That girl is special,” Nana Esther always said.

When she was a kid and Motown was the thing, Chan would sing Marvin Gaye’s tunes to her grandmother in their high ceilinged apartment, where, more often than not it was soul music, the harmonizing voices of The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, drifting in from the surrounding windows and disappearing into the sky that was perennially a washed out gray, as if there was an invisible flag always at half mast, hanging outside heaven. From the time she was five or six, all Chan had to do was hear a song once and she would know it. She knew all the Motown tunes word for word, and sang them right on key, perfectly, which is why Nana Esther dubbed her, “my little songbird.”

Of course, there was nothing little about Chantal, but, being her grandmother’s one and only, she was “a little one” to her. Chantal was tall, big for her age, and when she developed as a young woman, busty too. She stood out even before she opened her mouth, due to her attitude. Her nana had taught her to be “confident as a man,” and she had seemingly […] Continue reading »

bessie2 Uncategorized

What Queen Latifah left out of Bessie — the myth of Bessie Smith’s death

Queen Latifah’s homage to Bessie Smith, the HBO film Bessie, offers a look at the complexity of this transcendent entertainer’s life. The movie is wonderfully entertaining with strong performances by Latifah throughout, but, like most “biopics,” it is also somewhat flawed. For example, while her overt bi-sexuality, alcohol abuse, violent temper, and tempestuous marital life were central to her life story – and thus important to this film – her great musical talent didn’t feel completely honored in performance.

Given that the myth encompassing Bessie Smith’s death has dominated her life story to the point where prominent historians believe she was better known for her death than for what she accomplished in life, it was not surprising that Latifah chose to end her film without […] Continue reading »

mlk522 Quiz Show » Jazz History Quiz

Jazz History Quiz #72

Following Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 assassination, this famous singer was offered unofficial leadership in the civil rights movement by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King. Who is she?

Ethel Waters

Aretha Franklin

Josephine Baker

Ivie Anderson

Dinah Washington

Carmen McRae

Alberta Hunter

Go to the next page for the answer!
[…] Continue reading »