Interview with Richard Crawford, author of Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music

Richard Crawford’s Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music is a rich and detailed musical biography that describes Gershwin’s work throughout every stage of his career. In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Crawford discusses his book and the man he has described as a “fresh voice of the Jazz Age” who “challenged Americans to rethink their assumptions about composition and performance, nationalism, cultural hierarchy, and the racial divide.”

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“In Memory of George Lewis, Great Jazzman” — a poem by Lou Lipsitz


1

Man is the animal that knows
the clarinet

makes his living
on the docks, a stevedore,
110lbs., carrying what loads
he can

the Depression comes along,
his teeth rot, no money and
he has to accept silence

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Community Bookshelf #2

“Community Bookshelf” is a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share information about their recently authored books.

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A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2

The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

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A collection of jazz haiku

Earlier this year I invited poets to submit jazz-themed poetry that didn’t need to strictly follow the 5-7-5 syllabic structure of formal haiku, but had to at least be faithful to the spirit of it (i.e. no more than three lines, brief, expressive, emotionally insightful).

This collection, featuring 22 poets, is a good example of how much love, humor, sentimentality, reverence, joy and sorrow poets can fit into their haiku devoted to jazz.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2023 Edition

This edition features poetry chosen from hundreds of recent submissions, and from a wide range of voices known – and unknown – to readers of these collections.  The work is unified by the poets’ ability to capture the abundance of jazz music, and their experience with consuming it.

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A collection of short jazz poems – Vol. 1

A collection in which over 30 poets communicate their appreciation for jazz music in poems no longer than seven lines.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2022 Edition

A broad collection of jazz poetry authored by an impressive assemblage of regular contributors and established poets new to this publication – all of whom open their imagination and hearts to the abundant creative experience they derive from this art.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2022 Edition

Over 60 poets from all over the world celebrate their love of jazz…in poetry.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall/Winter, 2021-22 Edition

Molly Larson Cook’s abstract-expressionist paintings accompany the 50 poets contributing to this collection. Her art has much in common with the poetry and music found within it; all three art forms can be described as “landscapes of the imagination,” created by artists from all over the world who are inspired in a meaningful way by jazz music, and whose work can be uniquely interpreted and appreciated (or not!) by those who consume it.

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A Black History Month Profile: The Harlem Globetrotters

in this 2005 interview, Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, discusses the complex history of the celebrated Black touring basketball team.

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A Black History Month Profile: Zora Neale Hurston

In a 2002 interview, Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, talks about the novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet whose work is is taught in American, African American, and Women’s Studies courses in high schools and universities from coast to coast.

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Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer

The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

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From the Interview Archive: A 2011 conversation with Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway

In this interview, Alyn Shipton discusses Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2023 Edition

This is the 14th extensive collection of jazz poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician since the fall of 2019, when the concept was initiated. Like all previous volumes, the beauty of this edition is not solely evident in the general excellence of the published works; it also rests in the hearts of the individuals from diverse backgrounds who possess a mutual desire to reveal their life experiences and interactions with the music, its character, and its culture.

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Interview with Richard Koloda, author of Holy Ghost: The Life & Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler

An impeccably researched biography of an influential figure in American music, the goal of which is “to draw attention away from the circumstances surrounding Ayler’s death and bring it sharply back to the legacy he left behind.”

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall/Winter, 2022-23 Edition

.This collection of jazz poetry – the largest yet assembled on Jerry Jazz Musician – demonstrates how poets who are also listeners of jazz music experience and interact with the spontaneous art that arises from jazz improvisation, which often shows up in the soul and rhythm of their poetic language.

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Interview with Winston James, author of Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik

A discussion about the revolutionary, non-conformist poet Claude McKay’s complex early life that culminated in a pioneering role in American letters

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A Black History Month Profile: Louis Armstrong

In a November 16, 2020 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician, Ricky Riccardi, author of Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong,  discusses his vital book and Armstrong’s enormous and underappreciated achievements during the era he led his big band.

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Book Excerpt: Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism, by Richard Brent Turner

In an excerpt from his book Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism, Richard Brent Turner writes about Max Roach and his wife, the singer Abbey Lincoln, and the contributions they made to social justice, constructed in the intersecting worlds of African American Islam and jazz.

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On the Turntable — The “Best Of the ‘Best Of’” in 2021 jazz recordings

December has once again produced a large number of year-end “Best Of” lists, and the goal of this post is to present those albums oft mentioned by the critics. While these 21 albums hardly constitute a comprehensive assessment of the “Best Of the ‘Best Of’” lists, it does provide some guidance about 2021 recordings critics seemed to agree about, and suggest we check out more thoroughly.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2021 Edition

“It’s not exclusive, but inclusive, which is the whole spirit of jazz.”

-Herbie Hancock

.

And…this spirit is not limited to the musicians, because celebrating jazz is rich in creative opportunity for writers and visual artists as well.  The 54 poets who contribute to this poetry collection are living proof of that.

As always, thanks to the poets, and I hope you enjoy…

Joe

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Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — “Keeping Jazz Alive in the Desert”…Monk Montgomery and the jazz musicians of Las Vegas

In this edition, “Keeping Jazz Alive in the Desert,” Mr. Oakland’s photographs and stories focus on Monk Montgomery’s efforts to bring jazz to Las Vegas, and the notable jazz musicians who played in that city 

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A Poetry Collection — inspired by Miles Davis

Few artists inspire creativity like Miles Davis. This collection of poetry by 50 poets from all over the world is evidence of that.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #56 — “Celestial Vagabonds” by Max Talley

He drove uptown on Riverside Drive, the motor noise magnificent. Traffic increased as he approached Harlem. Other drivers jostling to get ahead noticed the car first. A red Ferrari was not subtle in gray Manhattan, and the engine roared money and power and European elegance. Then neighbors would study the man in outsized sunglasses. Some recognized him, smiling or shaking their heads in disbelief. Others looked aggrieved, even outraged that a person like him could be driving a vehicle like that. Ferrari only built three-hundred of their 275 GTB.

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Book Excerpt: Riff: The Shake Keane Story, by Philip Nanton

In this excerpt from the books first chapter – published with the gracious consent of Papillote Press – Nanton writes about his initial meetings with the celebrated artist, and the 20th century currents that were important in shaping his individual talents and personality.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2021 Edition

In this winter collection of diverse themes and poetic styles, 55 poets wander the musical landscape to explore their spirit and enthusiasm for jazz music, its historic figures, and the passion, sadness, humor and joy it arouses.

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A Black History Month Profile: Thelonious Monk, a founding father of modern jazz

. . In a 2009 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, talks about  the legendary composer/pianist who was a founding father of modern jazz. . .   .Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an … Continue reading “A Black History Month Profile: Thelonious Monk, a founding father of modern jazz”

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Interview with Dave Chisholm, author of the graphic novel Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California

Author Dave Chisholm talks about the experience creating his graphic novel about Charlie Parker in California, “Chasin’ the Bird”

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“An Archaeologically Authenticated, Gastro-Musicological Historical Artifact: The Menu For The Jazz Brunch At Jack’s Tea Garden” – humor by Lee Shamberg & Mark Shamberg

“An Archaeologically Authenticated, Gastro-Musicological Historical Artifact: The Menu For The Jazz Brunch At Jack’s Tea Garden” is excerpted from a work-in-progress entitled “The Hip Man Letters, vol. 2: Dear Morty.”

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Poetry in the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season, Vol. 5

In this fifth collection of poetry reflecting these times,  33 poets offer their perspectives…

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Interview with Kevin Whitehead, author of Play the Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film

Kevin Whitehead, the longtime jazz critic for NPR’s Fresh Air, discusses jazz music and the movies – the “natural allies” that both grew out of existing creative traditions, and, since the mid-1920’s have told stories about “child prodigies, naturals who pick up the music the first time they hear it, hard workers with a painstaking practice regimen, talented players diverted into soul-killing commercial work, and even non-improvisers taught to fake it.”

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“What one song best represents your experience with 2020?”

The community of poets, writers, artists and photographers who have recently contributed their work and time to Jerry Jazz Musician to answer this question, “What one song best represents your experience with 2020?”

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“I Can’t Breathe” — a story by Leke Adefioye

All of a sudden, I began to experience an unusual perspiration.  A perspiration that altered the rhythm of my heartbeat. The more the rhythm was thrown off, the more rapid my heartbeat pounded. I listened with displeasure as my heartbeat produced discordant tunes. The tunes were unpleasant to the ears.

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Interview with Ricky Riccardi, author of Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong

In a November 16, 2020 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician, Riccardi discusses his vital book and Armstrong’s enormous and underappreciated achievements during the era he led his big band.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Autumn, 2020 Edition

Jazz and poetry have always had a symbiotic relationship.  Their creative languages share the common soil of imagination and improvisation, from which their audiences discover inspiration and spirit, and perhaps even a renewed faith in life itself.

This collection features 50 gifted poets from places as disparate as Ohio and Nepal, Estonia and Boston, Guyana and Pittsburgh, each publicly sharing their inner world reverence for the culture of jazz music.

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Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season — Vol. 4

On the cusp of an election of consequence the likes of which America hasn’t experienced for 150 years, and in the midst of continued Black Lives Matter protests and an indisputable surge of COVID, 29 poets sharing perspectives from all over the world contribute to this volume of poetry reflecting our tumultuous, unsettling era…

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Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season — Vol. 2

23 poets contribute 26 poems that speak to the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season

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Interview with Dominic McHugh, co-author of The Letters of Cole Porter

In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview with The Letters of Cole Porter co-author Dominic McHugh, he explains that “several of the big biographical tropes that we associate with Porter are either modified or contested by the letters,” and that “when you put together these letters, and add our quite extensive commentary between the letters, it creates a different picture of him.” Mr. McHugh discusses his book, and what the letters reveal about the life – in-and-out of music – of Cole Porter.

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Interview with James Kaplan, author of Irving Berlin: New York Genius

Irving Berlin biographer James Kaplan talks about Berlin’s unparalleled musical career and business success, his intense sense of family and patriotism during a complex and evolving time, and the artist’s permanent cultural significance.

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Blood For Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army — an interview with author David Colley

From the Jerry Jazz Musician archives, in a March, 2003 interview, David Colley, author of Blood For Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army, talks about the integration of the United States military, and about the courage of African American soldiers determined to achieve success before and after World War II.

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Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who responded to our question, “What are some of your favorite record album covers of all time?”

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Interview with Mary Schmidt Campbell, author of An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden

Mary Schmidt Campbell, author of .An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden,discusses the remarkable life of this important American artist in a Jerry Jazz Musician interview.

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Guy Lombardo, “about as artistically creative as the average comic book”

. . “If you can dance at all, you can dance to [Guy] Lombardo’s music,” the Metronome writer George T. Simon wrote in 1942.   The Lombardo band’s popularity was once so immense and widespread that he set attendance marks wherever he went, including at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. His appeal came despite what Simon described as … Continue reading “Guy Lombardo, “about as artistically creative as the average comic book””

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“Icarus” — a short story by Ian MacAgy

     Near the end of high school I thought myself sophisticated, a fan of Pink Floyd and King Crimson and Kevin Ayers, but at a Weather Report Concert in 1972 I had a nearly religious conversion.  It was as though a stranger had run up to me and said, “hold this for minute” and ran off. Then the music exploded. I had never heard anything like this. Everything changed. 

      It was as though I grew hair in secret places and a new appendage.  I became a different creature.  After that night few of my suburban DC white friends’ guitar and lyrics-oriented ears could hear what mine could; the joy and heartbreak in this unfamiliar and ebonic timbre, this canvas painted in horn, acoustic bass, and polyrhythm; this blues, this brokenness, this homesickness.   

     There it was, though, for anyone who had ears for it—there, in the absence of verse, in the uncertainty and unpredictability of lengthy solos, in the timelessness of power beyond the moment from which

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“Woman Plays Horn” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

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 get out at the wrong time, just as a truck was passing.

“C’est la vie” he always said about that, as if it meant something. He had to go on, a musician without a limb, without his instrument, because he was a man and had children and a legacy to uphold through them, but inside, where nothing touched him, he felt as torn as his shoulder had been that night. Something had shifted. Only his wife, his gentle, meek and attendant wife who saw him sitting at the edge of their bed each night head bowed counting his blessings, all but one, only she knew what

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Guy Lombardo — “about as artistically creative as the average comic book”

“If you can dance at all, you can dance to [Guy] Lombardo’s music,” the Metronome writer George T. Simon wrote in 1942. The Lombardo band’s popularity was once so immense and widespread that he set attendance marks wherever he went, including at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. His appeal came despite what Simon described as the band’s “exaggerated sax vibratos, the clippety brass phrases with their illegitimate tones…and the style of singing that lets you hear all consonants and no vowels,” leading to what some musicians would ridicule as being “about as artistically creative as the average comic book.”

But, as Simon wrote in the chapter on Lombardo from his essential 1967 book The Big Bands, “Lombardo believed implicitly in his music, and he succeeded handsomely in selling it to two generations of dancers.”

For many of us born in the years following World War II – raised culturally by the likes of

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Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion, Volume 15: What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1960’s?

“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” As often as possible, Jerry Jazz Musician poses one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.

This edition asks the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1960’s?” Respondents include the musicians John McLaughlin, Vijay Iyer, Warren Wolf, Jane Ira Bloom, Don Byron, Robin Eubanks, and journalists Gary Giddins, Dan Morgenstern, Terry Teachout, Neil Tesser, John Goodman and lots more…

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Kansas City Jazz: A Pictorial Tour

In cooperation with Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, authors of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — a look at the fascinating historyof Kansas City’s golden age through book excerpts, photos and music

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Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes!” So ranted Thelonious Sphere Monk, who proved his point every time he sat down at the keyboard. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest composers. Yet throughout much of his life, his musical contribution took a backseat to tales of his reputed behavior. Writers tended to obsess over Monk’s hats or his proclivity to dance on stage. To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. But these labels tell us little about the man or his music.

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Doug Ramsey, author of Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond

Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond is the story of a jazz artist who transcended genres to establish one of the most immediately recognizable sounds in all of music. Long before his success as the alto saxophonist with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, decades before he wrote “Take Five ,” Desmond determined that he would be himself, never a disciple or an imitator, whatever the cost.

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Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway

Clad in white tie and tails, dancing and scatting his way through the “Hi-de-ho” chorus of “Minnie the Moocher,” Cab Calloway exuded a sly charm and sophistication that endeared him to legions of fans.

In Hi-de-ho, author Alyn Shipton offers the first full-length biography of Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the highest-earning African American bandleaders. Shipton sheds new light on Calloway’s life and career, explaining how he traversed racial and social boundaries to become one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

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Marybeth Hamilton, author of In Search of the Blues

Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton — we are all familiar with the story of the Delta blues. Fierce, raw voices; tormented drifters; deals with the devil at the crossroads at midnight.

In an extraordinary reconstruction of the origins of the Delta blues, historian Marybeth Hamilton demonstrates that the story as we know it is largely a myth. The idea of something called Delta blues only emerged in the mid-twentieth century, the culmination of a longstanding white fascination with the exotic mysteries of black music.

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Brad Snyder, author of A Well Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports

Upon being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969, Curt Flood, an All-Star center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, wanted nothing more than to stay with St. Louis. But his only options were to report to Philadelphia or retire. Instead, Flood sued Major League Baseball for his freedom, hoping to invalidate the reserve clause in his contract, which bound a player to his team for life.

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An Online Story of Jazz in New Orleans – Chapter 4

Featuring the complete text of chapter 4 rom “Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told By the Men Who Made It”, a 1955 book by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff

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Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion/Volume Eight: When you were growing up, what were three or four of your parents’ favorite recordings?

“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” As often as possible, we pose one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.

When you were growing up, what were three or four of your parents’ favorite recordings?

Featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hubert Laws, Jacky Terrasson, Jimmy Owens, Kurt Elling and others…

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Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion/Volume Seven: What do you recall about the first live music performance you ever attended?

“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” As often as possible, we pose one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.

What do you recall about the first live music performance you ever attended?

Featuring Alan Broadbent, Cyrus Chestnut, Dave Frishberg, David Evanier, and others…

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Stanley Crouch, author of Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz

Stanley Crouch — MacArthur “genius” award recipient, co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, National Book Award nominee, and perennial bull in the china shop of black intelligentsia — has been writing about jazz and jazz artists for over thirty years. His reputation for controversy is exceeded only by a universal respect for his intellect and passion. As Gary Giddins notes: “Stanley may be the only jazz writer out there with the kind of rhinoceros hide necessary to provoke and outrage and then withstand the fulminations that come back.”

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Kansas City Jazz: A Pictorial Tour

  Kansas City Jazz: A Pictorial Tour _____ In cooperation with Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, authors of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — a look at the fascinating history of Kansas City’s golden age through book excerpts, photos and music * All photos and book excerpts used with the permission of Frank Driggs, … Continue reading “Kansas City Jazz: A Pictorial Tour”

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David Maraniss, author of Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero

On New Year’s Eve 1972, following eighteen magnificent seasons in the major leagues, Roberto Clemente died a hero’s death, killed in a plane crash as he attempted to deliver food and medical supplies to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. Author David Maraniss now brings the great baseball player brilliantly back to life in Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero.

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Great Encounters #22: Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, and Sam Cooke — the Clay/Sonny Liston fight, Miami, 1964

Excerpted from Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, by Peter Guralnick

Jerry Brandt got them all tickets for the Clay-Liston fight in Miami on February 25. Allen brought his wife, Betty, Sam took Barbara, and J.W. came by himself, with Allen arranging for accommodations at Miami’s resplendent Fountainebleau Hotel. Allen had already registered and was in his room when Sam arrived, only to be told that there had been a mix-up about the reservations. It was not as blatant as Shreveport,

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Chuck Haddix, author of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop

There were but four major galaxies in the early jazz universe, and three of them — New Orleans, Chicago, and New York — have been well documented in print. But there has never been a serious history of the fourth, Kansas City, until the recent publication of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — A History, by Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix.

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Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters

Before Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, or Michael Jordan — before Magic Johnson and Showtime — the Harlem Globetrotters revolutionized basketball and spread the game around the world. In Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, author Ben Green tells the story of this extraordinary franchise and iconic American institution.

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Great Encounters #20: When the Minneapolis Lakers played the Harlem Globetrotters; Chicago, 1948

Excerpted from Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, by Ben Green

In 1948, George Mikan, the six-foot-ten center of the Minneapolis Lakers, was dominating the sport like no other big man ever had. When Mikan had first arrived at DePaul University in 1942, he was a clumsy, slow-footed freshman who was so blind (with 20/300 vision) that, even wearing Mr. Magoo glasses, he had to ask teammates to read the game clock. But first-year DePaul coach Ray Meyer recognized the youngster’s fierce competitiveness, and put him through a rigorous, unorthodox, training program: he made him shoot thousands of hook shots with either hand, hired a female dance instructor to improve his footwork,

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Penny Von Eschen, author of Satchmo Blows Up the World

At the height of the ideological antagonism of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department unleashed an unexpected tool in its battle against Communism: jazz. From 1956 through the late 1970s, America dispatched its finest jazz musicians to the far corners of the earth, from Iraq to India, from the Congo to the Soviet Union, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Third World and to counter perceptions of American racism.

In Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War, Penny Von Eschen escorts readers across the globe, backstage and onstage, as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and other jazz luminaries spread their music and their ideas further than the State Department anticipated.

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William Kenney, author of Jazz on the River

Just after World War I, the musical style called jazz began a waterborne journey outward from that quintessential haven of romance and decadence, New Orleans. For the first time in any organized way, steam-driven boats left town during the summer months to tramp the Mississippi River, bringing an exotic new music to the rest of the nation. For entrepreneurs promoting jazz, this seemed a promising way to spread northward the exciting sounds of the Crescent City. And the musicians no longer had to wait for folks upriver to make their way down to New Orleans to hear the vibrant rhythms, astonishing improvisations, and new harmonic idioms being created.

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Louis Armstrong biographer Terry Teachout

“I suppose you could say that the seeds of my next book, a full-length biography of Louis Armstrong, were planted three years ago, when I was writing an essay for the New York Times about Armstrong’s centenary in which I called him “jazz’’s most eminent Victorian,” Terry Teachout wrote in his August 17, 2004 Arts Journal blog.

Three years after the Times piece was published, he took a tour of the Louis Armstrong House in Queens and came away with the enthusiasm required of such an endeavor.

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Jazz historian Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz

Buying a vinyl long playing jazz album in the format’s heyday — from the 1950s through the 1980s — was a three-step sensual process that stirred an almost irrational enthusiasm for the entire culture the music ignited. The record industry’s flair for creating passionate cover art seduced the imagination, the sounds etched into the grooves promised diversion and surprise, and the densely-typed liner notes on the back cover fired up an eagerness for enlightenment. The process continued at the turntable, where the cut of a stylus transformed the listener into an aural witness to the performer’s character and improvisational skills. It was, quite simply, a bonding experience.

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Geoffrey Ward, author of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion in history, the celebrated — and most reviled — African American of his age. Prizewinning biographer Geoffrey Ward tells Johnson’s story in Unforgivable Blackness, which reveals a far more complex and compelling life than the newspaper headlines he inspired could ever convey.

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Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Jazz Vocalists

In the final column of his thirty year career as jazz critic of the Village Voice, Gary Giddins wrote, “I’m as besotted with jazz as ever, and expect to write about it till last call, albeit in other formats. Indeed, much in the way being hanged is said to focus the mind, this finale has made me conscious of the columns I never wrote.”

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Martin Torgoff, author of Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age

Illicit drugs have transfigured the American cultural landscape in the past half-century, leaving their mark on everything from art, music, literature, sexuality, spirituality, pop culture, the economy, and politics, to crime, public health, and national law enforcement policy. In Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945 – 2000, documentary filmmaker and writer Martin Torgoff traces the tangled trajectory of illegal drug use in America, as it spread post-World War II from the Beats and bebop musicians, all the way to the Ecstasy-fueled rave culture.

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Neil Lanctot, author of Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution

The story of black professional baseball provides remarkable perspective on several major themes in modern African American history: the initial black response to segregation, the subsequent struggle to establish successful separate enterprises, and the later movement toward integration. Baseball functioned as a critical component in the separate economy catering to black consumers in the urban centers of the North and South. While most black businesses struggled to survive from year to year, professional baseball teams and leagues operated for decades, representing a major achievement in black enterprise and institution building.

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Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry author Tim Brooks

Lost Sounds is the first in-depth history of the involvement of African Americans in the earliest years of recording. It examines the first three decades of sound recording in the United States, charting the surprising role black artists played in the period leading up to the Jazz Age.

Applying more than thirty years of scholarship, Tim Brooks identifies key black artists who recorded commercially in a wide range of genres and provides revealing biographies of some forty of these audio pioneers. Brooks assesses the careers and recordings of George W. Johnson, Bert Williams, George Walker, Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, W.C. Handy, James Reese Europe, Wilbur Sweatman, boxing champion Jack Johnson, as well as a host of lesser-known voices.

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Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Underrated Jazz Musicians, Part Two

In the final column of his thirty year career as jazz critic of the Village Voice, Gary Giddins wrote, “I’m as besotted with jazz as ever, and expect to write about it till last call, albeit in other formats. Indeed, much in the way being hanged is said to focus the mind, this finale has made me conscious of the columns I never wrote.”

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Ishmael Reed, author of Blues City: A Walk in Oakland

Often overshadowed by San Francisco, its twinkling sister city across the Bay, Oakland is itself an American wonder. The city is surrounded by and filled with natural beauty — mountains and hills and lakes and a bay — and architecture that mirrors its history as a Spanish mission, Gold Rush outpost, and home of the West’s most devious robber barons.

Oakland is also a city of artists and blue-collar workers, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, neighbor to Berkeley, and home to a vibrant and volatile stew of immigrants and refugees.

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Fire in a Canebrake author Laura Wexler

“Fire in a Canebrake” is a phrase Walton County, Georgians used to describe the sound of fatal gunshots, and the title of Laura Wexler’s critically acclaimed book on the Moore’s Ford lynching of 1946, the last mass lynching in America.

While the book is a moving and frightening tale of violence, sex and lies, it is also a disturbing snapshot of a divided nation on the brink of the civil rights movement and a haunting meditation on race, history, and the struggle for truth.

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Vincent Cannato, author of The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle to Save New York

When liberal Republican John Lindsay was elected mayor of New York in 1965, political observers described him as a White Knight, the best hope for a stagnant and troubled city. A reformer with movie-star looks, Lindsay brought glamour and hope to City Hall. At the height of his appeal, leading politicians from both parties, including Nelson Rockefeller and Robert Kennedy, feared Lindsay’s growing popularity. Some even pegged him for the White House.

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David Colley, author of Blood For Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army

Prior to the closing months of World War II, American military doctrine had long held that blacks were inferior fighters who fled under fire and lacked the intelligence, reliability, and courage of white fighters. That changed in early March 1945, when, for the first time, more than two thousand African-American infantrymen entered the front lines in Germany to fight alongside white soldiers in infantry and armored divisions engaged in the final battles of World War II in Europe.

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Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters

Alice Walker’s 1975 Ms. magazine article “Looking for Zora” and Robert Hemenway’s 1977 biography reintroduced Zora Neale Hurston to the American landscape and ushered in a renaissance for a writer who was a bestselling author at her peak in the 1930’s, but died penniless and in obscurity some three decades later.

Since that rediscovery of novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet Hurston, her books — from the classic love story Their Eyes Were Watching God to her controversial autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road — have sold millions of copies. Hurston is now taught in American, African American, and Women’s Studies courses in high schools and universities from coast to coast.

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David Skover, author of The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon

Lenny Bruce’s words had the power to provoke laughter and debate — as well as shock and outrage. It was the force of his voice that would place him on the wrong side of the law in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Lenny committed his life to telling the truth. But the truth he told infuriated those in power, and authorities in the largest, most progressive cities in the country worked effortlessy to put him in jail. To them, Lenny’s words were filthy and depraved. But to his friends — the hip, the discontented, the fringe — his words were not only sharp and hilarious, they were a light in the dark to the repressed society of the early 1960’s.

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Will Friedwald, author of Stardust Melodies: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs

In Stardust Melodies: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs, author Will Friedwald takes these legendary songs apart and puts them together again, with unprecedented detail and understanding. Each song’s history is explored — the circumstances under which it was written and first performed — and then its musical and lyric content.

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Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Bing Crosby

When Gary Giddins, the jazz critic and columnist for the Village Voice, began work on an in-depth biography of Bing Crosby, many asked him, “Why?” He has explained that Crosby, perhaps the most famous entertainer in America between 1927 and 1956, has been unjustly forgotten since his death in 1977.

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Nick Catalano, author of Clifford Brown : The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter

Few enthusiasts and scholars would argue the place trumpeter Clifford Brown holds in jazz history. His work, sadly cut short by his death in 1956, is dramatic, creative, revered. Until now, there has not been a body of work on his life to better acquaint us with his play, his life in and out of jazz, and his enthusiasm for life. Author Nick Catalano, whose love for Brownie had its beginnings at age 14 when he briefly shared a bandstand with him, has given us Clifford Brown : The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, a critically-acclaimed, newly released biography

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In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

The cover to Nina Simone's 1967 album "SIlk and Soul"
“Brown Girl” by Jerrice J. Baptiste

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Publisher’s Notes

photo by Rhonda Dorsett
A very brief three-dot update…Where I’ve been, and an update on what is coming up on Jerry Jazz Musician

Interview

Michael Cuscuna in 1972
From the Interview Archive: Jazz Producer, Discographer, and Entrepreneur Michael Cuscuna...Few music industry executives have had as meaningful an impact on jazz music as Michael Cuscuna, who passed away on April 20 at the age of 75. I had the privilege of interacting with Michael several times over the years, including this wide-ranging 2019 interview I conducted with him. His energy and vision was deeply admired within the jazz world. May his spirit for the music and its culture continue to impact those of us who remain.

Poetry

Photographer uncredited, but the photo was almost certainly taken by Chuck Stewart. Published by ABC/Impulse! Records.. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“And I’m Not Even Here” – a poem by Connie Johnson

Click here to read more poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Essay

"Lester Leaps In" by Tad Richards
"Jazz and American Poetry," an essay by Tad Richards...In an essay that first appeared in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry in 2005, Tad Richards - a prolific visual artist, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has been active for over four decades – writes about the history of the connection of jazz and American poetry.

Interview

photo of Pepper Adams/courtesy of Pepper Adams Estate
Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer...The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

Click here to read more interviews published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

Three poets and Sketches of Spain

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

Review

Jason Innocent, on “3”, Abdullah Ibrahim’s latest album... Album reviews are rarely published on Jerry Jazz Musician, but Jason Innocent’s experience with the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s new recording captures the essence of this artist’s creative brilliance.

Short Fiction

Christerajet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow...The author's award-winning story takes place over the course of a young man's life, looking at all the women he's loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

"Jazz Trio" by Samuel Dixon
A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2...The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

Jazz History Quiz #171

Dick Cavett/via Wikimedia Commons
In addition to being one of the greatest musicians of his generation, this Ohio native was an activist, leading “Jazz and People’s Movement,” a group formed in the late 1960’s who “adopted the tactic of interrupting tapings and broadcasts of television and radio programs (i.e. the shows of Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett [pictured] and Merv Griffin) in protest of the small number of Black musicians employed by networks and recording studios.” Who was he?

Click here to visit the Jazz History Quiz archive

Community

photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Coming Soon

An interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 - 1960;  an interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow? An Oral History of the 60's Girl Groups;  a new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive