• This month’s edition looks at album covers showing teenagers enjoying their music!

  • Musicians and journalists share their lists of favorite jazz albums recorded during the 1960′s with our readers

  • In 1949, this artist coined the phrase “Bop for the People,” which implied a more accessible form of the music. Who is he?

  • A photo gallery of select Van Vechten portraits

     

     

  • Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Volume 6
  • What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums from the 1960's?
  • Monday Jazz Quiz #32
  • The Photography of Carl Van Vechten
rodgers3 Uncategorized

“My Funny Valentine”

So many great songs to choose from for marking Valentine’s Day…The standard that most immediately comes to mind is an obvious choice, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “My Funny Valentine.” Written for their 1937 Broadway musical Babes in Arms, the piece was overshadowed on Broadway (and in the film version starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland) by “Where or When,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” and “The Lady is a Tramp,” and was not made relevant until Frank Sinatra’s recording of it in 1953. It was eventually recorded by more than 600 artists on countless albums, and became synonymous with Chet Baker, who recorded it over 100 times. Will Friedwald, author of Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs — an entertaining and essential work of popular music history — wrote that “the tune could be said to follow Baker from the grave, since it’s usually included in memorial tributes to him.”

Friedwald writes, “What makes the whole [song] so remarkable is the happy/sad nature of the lyric, brilliantly mirroring the major/minor nature of the music. It’s a love song, but far from those ‘I love you and everything’s rosy’ tunes so popular in the twenties (vis-a-vis Iriving Berlin’s ‘Blue Skies’). It’s vaguely optimistic, but it couldn’t […] Continue reading »

ayler1 Literature

“Truth Comes Marching In –Remembering Albert and Donald Ayler — a poem by Mark Kerstetter

Names like
Little Bird & Bicycle Horn
missed your tracking
Parker solos faster
backward to the future,
higher than Shaker Heights,
further than armies marching
to spiritual masterlocks
missing the Trane
to the Future Truth
marching in.

French Mayonnaise
sustained journeys
to Sweden & Denmark
where pickup players
kept standard time
while you advanced
[…] Continue reading »

bixfeb10a Features

Bix Beiderbecke, Miles Davis among the National Portrait Gallery’s “American Cool” exhibition

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington is currently curating an exhibit called “American Cool,” which features 100 photographs of iconic Americans who, according to the institution, “have contributed an original artistic vision to American culture and are symbolic figures of their time.”

Artists like Bessie Smith, Bix Beiderbecke, Bert Williams, and Willie “the Lion” Smith and writers like Ernest Hemingway and Zora Neale Hurston are included in the “Roots of Cool” category, while Lester Young, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk are among those deemed to be part of the “Birth of the Cool” group.

What were the determining factors in what constitutes “cool” and who has enough of it to be featured in the exhibition? According to Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, “‘American Cool’ is about America’s greatest cultural export—cool—and who embodies it. The show offers an opportunity […] Continue reading »

beatles1 Features

The Beatles — post Ed Sullivan appearance critical reviews, a Charles Mingus rant, and perspective

With the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan prominently in the news this past week, it is interesting (and entertaining) to revisit some of the critical perspectives of their music following the performance.

On February 10, 1964, Theodore Strongin, music critic for the New York Times (who Wikipedia describes as a “champion of new music”) wrote that “The Beatles’ vocal quality can be described as hoarsely incoherent, with the minimal enunciation necessary to communicate the schematic texts.” Three days later, acknowledging the phenomenon that hit our shores, George Dixon of the Washington Post wrote, “Just thinking about the Beatles seems to induce mental disturbance. They have a commonplace, rather dull act that hardly seems to merit mentioning, yet people hereabouts have mentioned scarcely anything else for a couple of days.”

Months later, William F. Buckley, the era’s chief conservative voice and founder of the National Review got into the act, writing […] Continue reading »