• In his 1993 book Upside Your Head! Rhythm and Blues on Central Avenue, the jazz and blues musician and impresario Johnny Otis writes primarily about the music scene in Los Angeles during the 40’s and 50’s.

  • In 1961 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had purchased Verve Records from Norman Granz. Creed Taylor became the new executive director, and made a number of crucial policy decisions, including the sacking of the majority of Verve’s contract artists. One of a handful to survive was

  • On the evenings of April 21 and 22, 1961, Miles Davis and his quintet recorded at San Francisco’s The Black Hawk nightclub, a longtime Tenderloin neighborhood establishment described by Bay area music writer Ralph J. Gleason as

  • A story about “a man of the cloth…deputized by a higher power to save jazzmen’s souls from the lures and wiles and temptations of bad taste.”

  • Johnny Otis writes about racism
  • Great Encounters: In the studio with Bill Evans and Stan Getz
  • Liner Notes -- Miles Davis in Person At The Blackhawk
  • "Father Kniest, Jazz Priest" -- a short story by Con Chapman
hoagy3 Quiz Show » Jazz History Quiz

Jazz History Quiz #59

“Mrs. Swing”‘s most famous recording was written especially for her by Hoagy Carmichael, and was recorded with a small group of musicians from Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. Who was “Mrs. Swing”?

Ethel Waters

Alberta Hunter

Mildred Bailey

Ida Cox

Sippie Wallace

Ma Rainey

Maxine Sullivan

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

artie1 Uncategorized

“Begin the Beguine” — a poem by Luis Lazaro Tijerina

Under the stars, we danced to your song.
She held me tight, while you, Artie,
With your clarinet, brought the music alive.
What rapture, that night! All the time,
she was whispering to me about
this and that…
There were no clouds that night,
no curse of life’s dark embers, not a one.
The tenderness in her eyes, in her voice,
[…] Continue reading »

woody1 Uncategorized

Woody Herman’s “practical joker”

In the March, 1945 Down Beat, under the headline “Herman’s Is Finest Ofay Swing Band,” Frank Stacy wrote this about Woody Herman and his “Herd.”

Woody Herman has the greatest ofay band in the country — bar none! That’s what all the band popularity contests said this year and that’s just the way I feel about it. Out of 1,606 swing fans who named the Herman Herd their favorite dispenser of jive in Down Beat‘s annual contest, undoubtedly some (the bobby soxers) cast their votes that way because they go for the snappy corduroy jackets that Woody sports on the stand. Most fans, however, pick Woody’s crew for its crack over-all musicianship, for its up-to-the-minute presentation of advanced big band orchestrations, for Woody’s superior talents as an instrumentalist, singer, showmanly stick-waver, and, above all, for his grasp of the right band ideas.

In addition to the band’s excellence that Stacy opines on, the band was filled with interesting and humorous personalities — among them the pot head (bassist Chubby Jackson) and the practical joker (trombonist Bill Harris). Check out this story about one of Harris’s best “jokes,” excerpted from […] Continue reading »

silentcity Literature » Short Fiction

“Silent City” — a short story by Adam Murray

Although only one story wins our thrice yearly Short Fiction Contest, since we typically receive well over 100 entrants, often times there are several worthy of publication. Our last competition, our 37th, was won by Kenneth Levine. His short story “Homage” — about the effect Chet Baker’s drug addiction had on a father and son relationship — was published on November 4.

A finalist in the competition was Adam Murray’s “Silent City,” an excellent story about “how we can’t have the things we can no longer have because they no longer exist.” In this case, what we can’t have again is the 1940’s jazz laboratory known as Minton’s Playhouse. When I sent an email to Murray requesting his permission to allow me to publish “Silent City,” he wrote back and agreed, informing me that he had written this story specifically for Jerry Jazz Musician and “from there just kinda’ crossed my fingers.” In that same email, Murray wrote; “I’m currently homeless in Australia and penned this piece with my back to the brickwork behind a little jazz joint here called Ellington’s, digging on the swing, the night and the street, so your acceptance is a fitting coda for me. I’d be honoured to appear in your publication with like minded souls and voices.”

Murray’s email is an extraordinary reminder […] Continue reading »

ella1 Uncategorized

“Hearts For Ella”

Toward the end of her life, Ella Fitzgerald, “The First Lady of Song,” faced several health challenges, most stemming from her battle with diabetes. The effects of the disease resulted in the amputation of her legs, and famously contributed to the debilitation of her eyesight. (Who can forget her frequent television appearances, when each successive performance seemed to bring new eye wear fashion and a more powerful eyeglass prescription). But it was her respiratory ailments and congestive heart failure that brought some of the biggest names in jazz together for a fund raiser sponsored by the American Heart Association Avery Fisher Hall in February of 1990. Hosted by Lena Horne and violinist Itzhak Perlman, “Hearts For Ella” featured a Benny Carter-led band that included […] Continue reading »