“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 17 — producer Joel Dorn on Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 1967 album, The Inflated Tear

In this edition, producer Joel Dorn talks with Michael Jarrett about his relationship with the legendary multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, in the context of working with him on the 1967 Atlantic album,  The Inflated Tear.  

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“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 16 — producers and musicians recall Miles Davis’s 1969 album In a Silent Way

In this edition, producers Teo Macero, Bob Belden and Michael Cuscuna, and musicians Dave Holland and Joe Zawinul talk with Jarrett about the way Miles Davis’s 1969 album In a Silent Way came together. 

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“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 15 — producers Joel Dorn and Hal Willner on the 1981 tribute album Amarcord Nino Rota

Producers Joel Dorn and Hal Willner discuss the album Amarcord Nino Rota, a tribute to Federico Fellini’s musical director

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“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 14 — producer Teo Macero on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew

Producers Teo Macero and Bob Belden, and bassist Dave Holland talk about working with Miles Davis on his groundbreaking 1969 recording, Bitches Brew

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“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 13 — producer Tommy LiPuma on George Benson’s album Breezin’

In this edition, producer Tommy LiPuma talks with Jarrett about working with guitarist George Benson  on his 1976 Warner Brothers recording Breezin’

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“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 12 — producer Bob Thiele on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme

In this edition, producer Bob Thiele talks with Michael Jarrett, author of Pressed For All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums from Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis and Diana Krall about working with John Coltrane on his classic 1964 recording A Love Supreme

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“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 11 — producer Jean-Phillipe Allard talks about Abbey Lincoln’s The World is Falling Down

In this edition, producer Jean-Phillippe Allard talks with Michael Jarrett, author of Pressed For All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums from Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis and Diana Krall about working with the singer Abbey Lincoln on her 1990 Verve album The World is Falling Down

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“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 10 — producer Creed Taylor talks about Wes Montgomery’s Goin’ Out of My Head

In this edition, producer Creed Taylor recalls working with the guitarist Wes Montgomery on his 1965 Verve album Goin’ Out of My Head

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 9 — John Koenig, Sonny Rollins, and William Claxton talk about Rollins’ 1957 album Way Out West

In this edition, producer John Koenig, saxophonist Sonny Rollins and photographer William Claxton discuss their roles in Rollins’ 1957 Contemporary Records album Way Out West with Pressed For All Time author Michael Jarrett

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 8 — producer Ed Michel on Art Pepper’s 1980 album Winter Moon

. . Drawn from interviews with prominent producers, engineers, and record label executives, Michael Jarrett’s Pressed For All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums is filled with interesting stories behind some of jazz music’s most historic, influential, and popular recordings. In cooperation with Jarrett and University of North Carolina Press, Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally … Continue reading ““Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 8 — producer Ed Michel on Art Pepper’s 1980 album Winter Moon

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 6 — producer Tom Dowd on Herbie Mann’s Memphis Underground

In this edition, producer Tom Dowd talks with Michael Jarrett about the genesis of Herbie Mann’s 1969 recording, Memphis Underground, and the executives and musicians involved.

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 5 — producer Helen Keane on The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album

In this edition,  producer Helen Keane tells Jarrett about how the collaboration of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans began, culminating in the 1975 recording, The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album. 

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 4 — producer Creed Taylor on the 1962 album, Jazz Samba

In this edition,  producer Creed Taylor tells Jarrett about the recording session and marketing strategy for the 1962 Verve album by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, Jazz Samba. 

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 3 — producer Nat Hentoff on Charles Mingus

In this edition, Michael Jarrett interviews producer Nat Hentoff about his experience of producing recordings for Candid Records, and in particular the 1961 album, Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 2 — producer John Snyder on Ornette Coleman

In this edition,  Michael Jarrett interviews producer John Snyder about the experience of working with Ornette Coleman at the time of his 1977 album Dancing in Your Head for Horizon Records — a division of A & M Records (under Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss)

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“Pressed for All Time,” Vol. 1 — Creed Taylor on Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross’ Sing a Song of Basie

In this edition, Michael Jarrett interviews producer Creed Taylor about how he came to use tape overdubs during the 1957 Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross Sing a Song of Basie recording session

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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 — 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 Joe La Barbera, co-author of Times Remembered: The Final Years of the Bill Evans Trio

Drummer Joe La Barbera talks about his book, and the significance of his experience working in Bill Evans’ last trio

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“Ralph Ellison’s 4-second Appearance in Shirley” — film criticism by John Kendall Hawkins

Hawkins examines the relationship between the characters portrayed in the 2020 film Shirley, and the missed opportunity to include Ralph Ellison in the story

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“Pentimento” — a short story by Tanisha Shende

The first time I tried to convince Veronica that we’ve met before, it was a dark summer night, honeyed and sulky, and beneath my feet, the earth was still swollen with rain. Under my right arm, I carried one of her paintings in a wooden case, while my left hand held the scrap of paper bearing the Trevisan family home’s address, given to me in a brief yet frantic call from her aunt.

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Interview with Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

The author discusses the enigmatic and extraordinary pianist, composer, and band leader, whose most notable achievements came during a time of major societal and cultural change, and often in the face of critics who at times found his music too technical and bombastic.

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Reminiscing in Tempo: “Life during the time of isolation and social distancing”

Prominent artists and educators reflect on the pandemic and how they are spending their time during isolation and social distancing

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“Life during the time of isolation and social distancing” Vol. 3 — journalist Joe Hagan and photographer Tim Davis

Journalist Joe Hagan and photographer Tim Davis respond to the question; “During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?”

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Book Excerpt: The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century, by John Burnside

In the introduction to The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century, the T.S. Eliot prize-winning poet, novelist and memoirist John Burnside writes; “Can poetry save the world, as [poet Lawrence] Ferlinghetti suggests?  This will sound quixotic, but I have to say, not only that it can, but that it does.” The introduction to the book – excerpted here in its entirety – is Burnside’s fascinating conversation concerning the idea of how poets respond to what the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam called “the noise of time,” weaving it into a kind of music.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall, 2019 Edition

Twenty-eight poets contribute 37 poems to the Jerry Jazz Musician Fall Poetry Collection, living proof that the energy and spirit of jazz is alive — and quite well.
(Featuring the art of Russell Dupont)

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Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?”

. . Speak No Evil, a 1964 recording session by saxophonist Wayne Shorter (released in 1966), was among those listed by noted critics, authors and musicians as their all-time favorite Blue Note albums . __________ . “Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of … Continue reading “Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?””

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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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“All Blues: The Story of a Lost Friendship” — a true jazz story by Bob Hecht

…..I have to wonder how many friendships have been forged over mutual love of Miles Davis’ album, Kind of Blue. The one I want to tell you about came to pass in an unlikely setting back during the winter of 1963…

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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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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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David Robertson, author of W.C. Handy: The Life and Times of the Man Who Made the Blues

Before there was Elvis, there was W.C. Handy, “the man who made the blues.” Here is the first major biography in decades of the man who gave us such iconic songs as “St. Louis Blues,” “The Memphis Blues,” and “Beale Street Blues,” and who was responsible, more than any other musician, for bringing the blues into the American mainstream.

David Robertson charts W.C. Handy’s rise from a rural Alabama childhood in the last decades of the nineteenth century to become one of the most celebrated songwriters of the twentieth century. The child of former slaves, Handy was first inspired by spirituals and folk songs, and his passion for music pushed him to leave home as a teenager, despite opposition from his preacher father.

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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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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #6: “The Place Where Colored Notes Play,” by Rebecca Marshall-Courtois

Today, Celina is going tolive up to the promise she made to him fifteen years ago, that November dayin the neurologist’s parking lot, when he told her, “When my voice goes,I go.”

Ray can still hear the pitter-patter of raindrops onthe umbrella they’d shared that day, drumming out the minutes that passedas they stood, emotionally and physically immobile, terrified at the thoughtof taking another step. And he can still recall the wet wool smell of hersweater when he tucked his face into the hollow of her neck to hide his tears.But he thought Celina had chosen to forget that day and her vow, until twomonths ago when she asked him if he’d changed his mind. “Squeeze my arm ifyou still want to,” she’d told him.

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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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The Ralph Ellison Project: Robert O’Meally, editor of Living With Music, discusses Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison

While Ralph Ellison will forever be best remembered as author of the classic American novel of identity, Invisible Man, he also contributed significant essays on jazz that stand as compelling testaments to his era. His work included an homage to Duke Ellington, stinging critiques of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and recognition of the changing-of-the-guard taking place at Harlem’s Minton’s in the 1940’s. He wrote on musical topics from flamenco to Charlie Christian, and from Jimmy Rushing to Mahalia Jackson.

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Hazel Rowley, author of Richard Wright: The Life and Times

The child of the fundamentalist South with an eighth-grade education, a self-taught intellectual in the working-class Communist Party of the 1930s, a black man married to a white woman, and an expatriate in France after World War II, Richard Wright was always an outsider. He went well beyond the limits of the times in which he lived, and sought to reconcile opposing cultures in his work.

“How the hell did you happen?” the Chicago sociologist Robert Park once asked Wright. In Richard Wright: His Life and Times, biographer Hazel Rowley shows how, chronicling with the dramatic drive of a novel Wright’s extraordinary journey from a sharecropper’s shack in Mississippi to international renown as a writer, fiercely independent thinker, and outspoken critic of racism.

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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

Little is known of the lives of many of the young Black women who – in the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s – sang, wrote, created, and popularized their generation-defining music, and even less about the challenges they faced while performing during such a complex era, one rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s endeavor at giving them an opportunity to voice their meaningful experiences.

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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.  He dedicated his life to music – particularly to the concept of mining and marketing the music recorded a generation ago by essential and under-appreciated jazz musicians buried deep in record label catalogs. 

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From the Interview Archive: Dunstan Prial, author of The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music

 . . In this 2006 interview, John Hammond biographer Dunstan Prial talks about the life and career of one of the most charismatic and powerful figures in the history of American music.   . . ___ . .     photo by David Schull . Dunstan Prial, author of The Producer: John Hammond and the … Continue readingFrom the Interview Archive: Dunstan Prial, author of The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music

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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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“Sayir” – a short story by Ron Perovich

It was the first Friday in months that we didn’t both have our own gigs lined up, so my friend Paul invited me out to one of his favorite haunts on 8th Avenue. He promised me the food was good, but told me that the real draw was the live music. Honestly, I tried not to roll my eyes when he dropped that detail on me in the cab. I mean, I love music and all–I’d have to if I was going to work this hard at it–but I kind of was looking forward to giving my ears the night off.

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A Black History Month Profile: Miles Davis

In a 2003 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, John Szwed, author of So What: The Life of Miles Davis, reveals a brilliant, inventive, intensely driven musician who was plagued by a host of internal conflicts and contradictions.  “Miles’ life as a whole is not easy to grasp,” Szwed reflects, “and the meaning of it, with or without his help, is resistant to quick interpretations.”

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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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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.

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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 these virtual pages.

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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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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow

A story that takes place over the course of a young man’s life, looking specifically at all the women he’s loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

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Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song

In Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, the book’s author Judith Tick writes that Ella “fearlessly explored many different styles of American song through the lens of African American jazz, [and] treated jazz as a process, not confined to this idiom or that genre,” and who “changed the trajectory of American vocal jazz in this century.” Ms. Tick. who is professor emerita of music history at Northeastern University, talks with about Ella – and her book – in this wide-ranging October 23, 2023 interview.

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Interview Archive: Gary Giddins on Thelonious Monk

The former Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, who was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, and who is the country’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in a December 23, 2002 conversation about jazz legend Thelonious Monk.

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True Jazz Stories: “Well You Needn’t: My Life as a Jazz Fan” by Joel Lewis

The journalist and poet Joel Lewis shares his immensely colorful story of falling in love with jazz, and living with it and reporting on it during his younger days in New Jersey and New York

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In Memoriam: Carla Bley, 1936 – 2023

An account that the photographer Veryl Oakland shared of his time spent with Carla Bley and her then-husband Michael Mantler during her visit to the San Francisco Bay area in 1979.  This encounter is an example of how she’d find inspiration for her music; in this case within the  “the marvelous inner workings of mechanical music boxes.”

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“A Song and Dance Proposition” – a short story by Richard Moore

Because of his childhood experiences, the story’s narrator loses his singing voice and as an adult neither sings nor dances. But when his marriage falls apart he meets a ‘song and dance man’ who turns out to be Iris, a woman with multiple sclerosis. With her help, he comes to grip with his inhibitions.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #63 — “Company” by Anastasia Jill

20-year-old Priscilla Habel lives with her wannabe flapper mother who remains stuck in the jazz age 40 years later. Life is monotonous and sad until Cil meets Willie Flasterstain, a beatnik lesbian who offers an escape from her mother’s ever-imposing shadow.

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Interview with Stephanie Stein Crease, author of Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat That Changed America

The author talks about her book and Chick Webb, once at the center of America’s popular music, and among the most influential musicians in jazz history.

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Remembering and honoring my father

. . My dad…Joseph Maita, Sr. 1917-2000 This photo would have likely been taken in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s .   .. . ___ . . “Good fathers not only tell us how to live, they show us.”   -Mark Twain . As we get older, memories become more precious, and we hold them closer to … Continue reading “Remembering and honoring my father”

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Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950’s Quartets

In this May, 2023 interview, Shipton and Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht talk about Mulligan’s unique contributions to modern jazz.

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“Partial Memories of Music and Love” – a short story by Lindsay Flock

What if you love music…but you can no longer hear? Ms. Flock’s story contemplates the paralleled loss of the protagonist’s hearing and her husband, where music fits into her life now, and attempts to forge a new relationship being deaf.

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Interview Archive: A conversation with Michael Dregni, author of Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend

Michael Dregni talks about the life of the acknowledged jazz master, Django Reinhardt – and the extraordinary times and circumstances in which he lived.

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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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Interview Archive: Donzaleigh Abernathy, author of Partners to History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement

The daughter of Reverend Ralph Abernathy talks about her life as a child of the civil rights movement, and to remember the two visionaries who changed the course of American history

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #62 — “Mr. P.C.” by Jacob Schrodt

A saxophonist and his teenage daughter – a drummer –bond over their club performance of John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C,” but it doesn’t come without its parental challenges, and the father’s warm remembrance of her childhood.

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A Women’s History Month Profile: Lena Horne

. . In a 2009 interview, James Gavin, author of Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne, discusses the challenging yet inspiring life of one of the 20th century’s most revered entertainers . . ___ . .     James Gavin, author of  Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne . ___ . . . … Continue readingA Women’s History Month Profile: Lena Horne”

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A Black History Month Profile: An interview with Ralph Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad

Ralph Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad talks about the complex life of the author of Invisible Man, the celebrated work that focuses on racial and economic issues of mid-20th century America

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A Black History Month Profile: Louis Armstrong scholar Thomas Brothers on the “Master of Modernism”

Louis Armstrong scholar and biographer Thomas Brothers talks about the artist’s most fertile period, from his arrival as a young man in Chicago in 1922 to join Joe “King” Oliver, through the years of the “Hot Five and Hot Seven” recordings 

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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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Book Excerpt from Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance, by Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder

In this excerpt, the authors write about some influential midcentury Latin-themed dance albums.

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Interview with Richard Brent Turner, author of Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism

. .       Richard Brent Turner is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the African American Studies Program at the University of Iowa, and the author of  Soundtrack to a Movement:  African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism [New York University Press] . . ___ . . …..In Richard Brent Turner’s … Continue reading “Interview with Richard Brent Turner, author of Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism

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“Heliocentric Ra Ra” — a story of finding artistic inspiration in the music of Sun Ra, by Meisha Synnott

The two versions of the 1965 album The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra (Vol. 1) were part of the inspiration for Meisha Synnott’s enlightening artistic exploration

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #59 — “His Second Instrument” by Dave Wakely

Gail’s days on the bandstand are behind her now, London nights swapped for the life of a farmer’s wife back in Devon. But if an intriguing young man with a love of Billy Strayhorn wants sax lessons, who is she to deny him the chance to experience what she has given up?

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“Old Man Hands” — a short story by Terry Sanville

Gordon sat in the corner of the Red Sky Café and stared at his fingers as they slid across the fretboard of his Fender Stratocaster. They seemed disconnected from the rest of his body but hardwired to his brain. When he thought blue, they moved to his favorite notes. When he thought joy, a new series of chords and major scales opened up. He thought, played, listened, and watched.

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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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“Intersection” — a short story by Sal Difalco

Dressed in a tight-fitting black suit, Rosario Cino, flanked by his son Mario and his nephew Charlie, also in black suits, exited the cool of All Souls Church and stepped into a rank wall of unseasonably warm and humid air. They and a handful of friends and relatives had just sat through the funeral of Guido Tutolo, a former bookie, loan shark, and paisan—and last of the old gang, as Rosario had said repeatedly to his son and nephew, neither of whom seemed torn up about the death, their connection to Guido limited, their youthfulness of course looking forward.

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“The Compositional Genius of Bill Evans — A Brief Overview & Playlist,” by Bob Hecht

Contributing writer Bob Hecht discusses Bill Evans’ enduring compositional genius, and has assembled an extensive Spotify playlist that includes many of his tunes.

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Interview with Wayne Enstice, co-author of The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer

The book’s co-author in conversation about the little-known life story of the pioneering Ms. Dodgion, who defied the odds to become a world-class jazz drummer in a world – and on an instrument – dominated by men.

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Interview with Kitt Shapiro, author of Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black & White

Being the daughter of an international celebrity is sure to have its rewards and challenges, particularly when the mother – in this case Eartha Kitt – grew up motherless and in extreme poverty in the South, and who as an adult, broke hardened and racist societal barriers with her intense inner drive, determination, and strength of character. In a November, 2021 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Ms. Kitt’s daughter Kitt Shapiro, author of Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black & White, talks about Eartha’s legacy as a mother, the life and career challenges they both faced, and her book—a moving account of a heartfelt mother/daughter relationship.

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Playlist: “Jazz Tributes” — compositions and performances by jazz musicians, for jazz musicians

Bob Hecht has created an extensive Spotify playlist he calls “Jazz Tributes” that also serves as a kind of “Thanksgiving” greeting – compositions and performances by jazz musicians, for jazz musicians. 

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Book Excerpt: The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer, by Dottie Dodgion & Wayne Enstice

In this chapter titled “Mingus,” Ms. Dodgion describes her experiences singing in late-1940s jam sessions and night club performances with the legendary bassist Charles Mingus.

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“Queen Mabelle’s Blues,” a short story by David Rudd

Maebelle had been surprised when, in 1934, a scout for the American Record Corporation invited her to come and sing at the General Store, “for our field recordings.”

“Field recordings?” she’d joked. “They wanna hear the Boll Weevil, close up?” She was recalling the Charley Patton song.

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“Ways to Look at Blind Lemon Jefferson” — a story by Larry Smith

One of the best things about my life is that in the course of it I had the chance to see the great Blind Lemon Jefferson on eleven different occasions. This was especially gratifying because for me he was the finest blues singer who ever lived, even better than Robert Johnson or Charlie Patton or Bessie Smith.

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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

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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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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #57 — “Constant At The 3 Deuces” by Jon Zelazny

In the closing weeks of 1949, the consensus of New York’s cognoscenti was unanimous: the American debut of London’s Sadler’s Wells Ballet was the triumph of the post-war era. The praise and attention lavished upon the visiting artists was unrelenting; the Yanks’ sudden passion for tutus, Tchaikovsky, and entrechat quatres bordered on obsession. And yet, three weeks into their engagement, with four performances at The Met remaining, their company’s esteemed music director and conductor Constant Lambert was bored to tears.

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True Jazz Stories: Musical Adventures of Joe Maita, Sr.

. .     Joseph Maita, Sr. c. 1935 . ___ .   …..My father Joseph Maita (Sr.) was affable, charismatic, and loving – gifted as a musician and, ultimately, a successful business owner.  He was also extraordinarily complex and challenged by having to make choices so many young parents find themselves confronting – following … Continue reading “True Jazz Stories: Musical Adventures of Joe Maita, Sr.”

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Interview with Travis Atria, author of Better Days Will Come Again: The Life of Arthur Briggs, Jazz Genius of Harlem, Paris, and a Nazi Prison Camp

…..The Grenada-born trumpeter Arthur Briggs was among the first to introduce and popularize jazz music, and did so from Europe, where he permanently settled after arriving from Harlem in 1919, and where he eventually grew to be considered “the Louis Armstrong of Paris.”  Little-known in America, his musical biography features his befriending and performing with the likes of Sidney Bechet (who Briggs was with when he bought his first soprano saxophone), Josephine Baker, Coleman Hawkins, and Django Reinhardt.

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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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“Ensemble Man” — an essay by Scott D. Vander Ploeg

“Ensemble”—I had heard the director use the term on many occasions, and thought it just meant some undefined collection of musicians. My Jr-high classmates were asked “to meet for ensemble,” or were told that “the ensemble session will be at 10:10 today.” In school, if you joined the band you just started playing; there was no course in Orientation to Band 101 to explain these concepts to us.

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Interview with Jeff Gold, author of Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s

The author talks about his book and the rare collection of 200 full-color and black-and-white souvenir photos and memorabilia that bring life to the renowned jazz nightclubs of 1940’s and 1950’s.

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Two of a Mind: Conversations on Creative Collaboration, Vol 1: featuring Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart

An intimate portrait of Bill Charlap and mother Sandy Steward, who explore the art of musical collaboration and accompanying singers.

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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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A Black History Month Profile: Alain Locke, the father of the Harlem Renaissance

In a 2019 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Jeffrey Stewart, author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke and winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Non-Fiction, talks about Locke, the man now known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

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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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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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Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of Thelonious Monk, Paul Bley and Cecil Taylor

In this edition of photographs and stories from Mr. Oakland’s book, Thelonious Monk, Paul Bley and Cecil Taylor are featured.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2020 Edition

. .   “Clifford Brown” is a painting by Warren Goodson, a Saxapahaw, North Carolina artist whose work is driven by his appreciation for Black culture.  With his gracious consent, Mr. Goodson’s art is featured throughout this collection. . . _____ . . “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” -Lawrence Ferlinghetti … Continue reading “A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2020 Edition”

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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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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #54 — “A Failed Artist’s Paradise” by Nathaniel Neil Whelan

He’s here again, his mossy hair visible at the back of the crowd. I’ve seen him a few times before and it’s always the same: he leans against a pillar, arms crossed, a hungry look in his eyes. There’s a bit of rebel in him. I don’t know if it’s the cigarette or the rimless sunglasses perched on the edge of his nose, but he doesn’t fit in with the polished and the proper.

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Interview with Kevin Boyle — author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

. . In 2005, Kevin Boyle’s National Book Award-winning book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age told the story of Ossian Sweet, a Black doctor in Detroit who in 1925 moved from that city’s ghetto into a home of his own in a previously all-white neighborhood.  … Continue reading “Interview with Kevin Boyle — author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

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Interview with Maria Golia, author of Ornette Coleman: The Territory And The Adventure

Ms. Golia discusses her book and the artists whose philosophy and the astounding, adventurous music he created served to continually challenge the skeptical status quo, and made him a guiding light of the artistic avant-garde throughout a career spanning seven decades.

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“An Interview with Lee Konitz” — by Bob Hecht and Grover Sales

Bob Hecht hosts a previously unpublished 1985 interview with the late, great jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, featuring photography and music

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“Oblivious” — a short story by Carolyn Geduld

Her granddad shook Bridgett awake. He was sniffling.

“What’s the matter? Are you sick?” She propped herself on her elbows.

“It’s Morrison. Gone.“ He was standing there in a faded tie-dyed shirt, smelling musty. His thinning gray hair, reaching past his waist, had not been tied back, but he was wearing his love beads.

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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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Interview with Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

. .     . .     photo by Bouna Ndaiye/used by permission of Gerald Horne Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice:  Racism and the Political Economy of the Music . ___ . . …..Jazz music — complex, ground breaking and brilliant from its early 20th century beginnings — would eventually become America’s … Continue reading “Interview with Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

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Book Excerpt: Irving Berlin: New York Genius, by James Kaplan

This story, excerpted from Irving Berlin: New York Genius by James Kaplan, describes how Berlin came to write his first major hit song, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” and speaks to its historic musical and cultural significance.

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Book Excerpt — Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music, by Gerald Horne

Jazz music — complex, ground breaking and brilliant from its early 20th century beginnings — would eventually become America’s popular music.  That it did so in the face of the severe obstacles of blatant racism and sexism, organized crime and corrupt labor exploitation so prevalent in America at the time is at the heart of historian Gerald Horne’s new book,  Jazz and Justice:  Racism and the Political Economy of the Music.

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“Piano Girl” — a short story by Shannon Brady

Arlena Sawyer’s mother had spent all seventeen years of her life warning her against what seemed like every last thing under God’s creation. With her thin, trilling voice she had done her best to hammer fear and caution into her only daughter’s head like the beak of a woodpecker into a tree.

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Great Encounters: When Johnny Hodges met Sidney Bechet

 “Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. In this edition, Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues:  The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges, writes about Hodges’ early musical training, and the first meeting he had with Sidney Bechet, the influential and legendary reed player who Hodges called “tops in my book.”

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Book Excerpt — Art Rebels:  Race, Class, and Gender in the Art of Miles Davis and Martin Scorsese, by Paul Lopes

In this excerpt, author Paul Lopes writes of how “two starkly different biographical legends (of Miles Davis and Martin Scorsese) emerged:  one of an ‘unreconstructed’ black man who lambasted the relentless indestructible power of Jim Crow America, and another, of an ‘unmeltable’ Italian American who became, over time, a quintessential white ethnic American.”

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“The Elvin Jones Standard” — an appreciation by Evan Nass

His style is unique, expressive, bombastic, heavy and rolling. He became one of the most famous drummers, making vast contributions to the hard bop and post-bop jazz movements. He had great influence on all the jazz musicians he played with, but more importantly, they influenced him.

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Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of Yusef Lateef and Chet Baker

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland’s photographs and stories feature Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams.

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The Jazz Photography Issue

. . Carol Friedman’s 1976 photograph of Chet Baker . _____ . …..For many of us who revere jazz music – especially those fortunate enough to have grown up during the era of the 12 x 12 record album jacket and coffee table photography books– the images of great musicians taken by photographers like William … Continue reading “The Jazz Photography Issue”

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A collection of Short Fiction — May, 2019

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest.  In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories…

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Interview with Jeffrey Stewart, author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, discusses the life of the man known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance

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“Live a Little,” a short story by Anisha Johnson

Stelle eyed herself in the bathroom mirror, nodded firmly at her reflection, and tore her wig off.
Her new shingle cut was so sharp it could have sliced through paper like scissors, and it gleamed the same glossy hue as ink. She smoothed the pads of her thumbs against her head to straighten the curls that had bloomed beneath the wig, and examined herself with satisfaction.

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Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland’s photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.

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“D-Natural Blues” — a short story by Salvatore Difalco

Galinsky was killing my buzz. I could not see his face behind a fuming joint, clenched between his tarry teeth, but I could see his hands—one holding a deck of playing cards, one opened gesturally. They wove with the languid rhythm of a Greek rhetorician as Galinsky droned on about the pratfalls of legalized cannabis: how the government had screwed up a good thing, how the government was greedy, how the government had put the kibosh on a thriving subculture—a tribe to which we after all, at this game, belonged. The black market had provided a beautiful service, in his words, without all the red tape and

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A collection of jazz poetry — April, 2019 edition

Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

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“On the Turntable” — April, 2019 edition

This month, 22 recently released jazz recordings are recommended, including those by Chris Potter, Sons of Kemet, Joey DeFrancesco, Stephan Crump, Julian Lage, Antonio Sanchez and Brittany Anjou

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“Before the Sky Was Blue” — a short story by J. Lee Strickland

It is tempting to say that this story took place a long time ago, but that would not be accurate. The place where this story unfolds did not suffer Time as we know it—the linear time of beginnings and endings, of what once was, of what might never be.

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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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Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 7

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 35 – 38

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Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 6

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 29 – 34

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Interview with Thomas Brothers, author of Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington and the Magic of Collaboration

In Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration, Duke University musicologist Thomas Brothers – author of two essential studies of Louis Armstrong – tells a fascinating account of how creative cooperation inspired two of the world’s most celebrated groups.

The following interview with Mr. Brothers about his book — hosted and produced by Jerry Jazz Musician. publisher Joe Maita — was conducted on December 10, 2018.

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Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 3

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 12 – 16

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A Roundtable conversation — “Religion ‘around’ Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison”

. .     . …..While Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison are not known as being “religious” figures, they have, in a way, become “sacred” figures. Revered, iconic and inspirational, their essential work contributed mightily to the creative climate of twentieth-century America, and did so in the midst of complex and evolving religious … Continue reading “A Roundtable conversation — “Religion ‘around’ Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison””

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“Arabesque” — a short story by Anisha Johnson

. . “Arabesque,” a story by Anisha Johnson, was a finalist in our recently concluded 49th Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author. . . . Arabesque by Anisha Johnson .   ___ .   …..The first notes of Debussy’s First Arabesque soared through the air, each note so light … Continue reading ““Arabesque” — a short story by Anisha Johnson”

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“The Man Who Lives in My Head” — a short story by Luke Bergvist

  “The Man Who Lives in My Head,” a story by Luke Bergvist, was a finalist in our recently concluded 49th Short Fiction Contest.  It is published with the permission of the author.     The Man Who Lives in My Head by Luke Bergvist   ___     {A handwritten manuscript, fished from the … Continue reading ““The Man Who Lives in My Head” — a short story by Luke Bergvist”

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #49 — “Will You Play For Me?” by Hannah Draper

     The first time I saw her, she was puffing softly on a cigarette in the girls’ bathroom. She looked all too much the devil incarnate, with tattered jeans and a band shirt that left no doubt at all that their songs would consist of guitar smashing and angsty screaming. She had dyed her hair this brilliant shade of blue that was almost black it was so dark. Upon her exhale, a long strand of smoke twirled from her ruby stained lips and curled around a nose ring that

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Interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins

Gary Giddins, his generation’s most eminent jazz writer and author of the award winning biography Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903 – 1940, talks with us about his brilliant second book on Crosby, Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940 – 1946. The interview is a fascinating read — a virtual history of Crosby’s life and his impact on America during its most consequential decade. Featuring photos, music and film clips, and information about Giddins’ experience studying Crosby for 25 years.

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“Should I sacrifice my life to live half American?”

While the civil rights movement may not have officially begun until the December, 1955 day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, the stage for it was set years before that.  Religious leaders and institutions, jazz and athletics all famously played important roles in building a foundation for the movement,

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“The Color of Jazz” — an essay by Bob Hecht

     The late, great trumpeter Clark Terry once offered one of the most pointed, and humorous, comments about the perennial controversies in jazz over race and the perceived abilities of white versus black musicians…

     He said, “My theory is that a note doesn’t give a

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“Blue Venus” — a short story by Rhonda Zimlich

            Gas lamps lined the street lifting their warmth out into the world to stave off the night.  Their flickering orange reflected in the puddles along the curb and the cobble still shiny with rain long gone.  A storm had passed.  Leaves now settled in clumps along the gutters and at the feet of a slumped musician folded forward on a stoop.  The curve of his instrument’s dark case towered above him, concealing an elegant bass within.

            Brownstones framed the scene extending stoops from hidden entryways.  A newspaper fat with rain hung over a wrought-iron rail, the upside-down words “Congress Overrides Veto of Taft-Hartley” visible even in the obscurity of predawn.  A five-and-dime, closed for business until morning, hosted a shadowy window display advertising dry shampoo and

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On the Turntable — Miles Ahead

I have been fortunate – thus far – to have avoided the many summer colds going around this season, but I have been afflicted, once again, by “Miles Fever.”  Every so often, I am struck by an irresistible urge to dig into the catalog of this artist so present during virtually every season of my life, and rediscover the thrill of his sound, and of his cultural significance.   

I contracted the virus this morning, and spent the morning (in bed, of course) listening to Miles Ahead, the 1957 recording featuring Miles Davis and 19 musicians under the direction of Gil Evans – his first collaboration with Miles since the Birth of the Cool sessions of 1950, and one of his earliest recordings for Columbia Records.  An early example of

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Jazz History Quiz #116

This jazz pianist was considered a child prodigy.  At the age of 11, he soloed in the first movement of a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony.  His 1962 debut Blue Note album, Takin’ Off, included a song that the Afro-Cuban Latin jazz percussionist Mongo Santamaria recorded and made popular – reaching #10 on the pop song charts in 1963.  The pianist reworked the song in 1973, which he included on an album that helped redefine jazz music.  Who is he?

 

Keith Jarrett

Cecil Taylor

Horace Silver

Les McCann

Ramsey Lewis

Erroll Garner

Herbie Hancock

McCoy Tyner

 

Go to the next page for the answer!

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Jazz History Quiz #111

This bassist played in Ornette Coleman’s early bands before eventually leading the Liberation Music Orchestra, where he became known as one of free jazz’s founding fathers. Who is he?

Jaco Pastorius
Charlie Haden
Stanley Clarke
Dave Holland
Ron Carter
Jimmy Garrison
Steve Swallow

Go to the next page for the answer!

 

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Dylan, The Byrds, and John Coltrane

In Robbie Robertson’s entertaining biography Testimony, the rock guitarist tells a short story about a conversation he overheard Bob Dylan having with The Byrd’s Jim (a.k.a. “Roger”) McGuinn concerning John Coltrane’s influence on McGuinn when he wrote “Eight Miles High.” 

The setting was Los Angeles, 1966, during a Dylan tour that employed Robertson and, among others, bandmates Rick Danko and Richard Manuel, who are referred to in the excerpt.  The “Levon” in the story was the drummer Levon Helm, who left the tour after a month out of frustration of playing with Dylan during his initial “electric” period, when folk music purists routinely

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“Bird Lives” — a memory of Charlie Parker’s Kansas City, by Robert Hecht

     The night I truly ‘got’ the shining genius of Charlie Parker I was in my girlfriend’s apartment on the Lower East Side. The year was 1961. I was nineteen, she was much older and hipper, and had turned me on not only to some great music but to getting high as well. She had all the essential jazz records, including the one on the turntable that night. It was The Fabulous Bird, on the old Jazztone label, consisting of reissues of some of Bird’s phenomenal 1947 Dial sessions. She had a very low-fi stereo—I can still see the nickel she had scotch-taped to the tone arm to keep it in the grooves. But the fidelity didn’t matter, in part at least because this evening I had just smoked a

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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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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #46 — “Cotton Candy on Alto Sax,” by Julie Parks

At first, I simply sit on the front steps of my building, letting the summer sun bake my knees while I’m planning my getaway, trying to decide which subway to take to get to Caroline’s place faster. I know nobody will miss me. Nobody will even notice. Not like the first time I ran away.

The first time I ran away – OK, maybe I didn’t exactly run away, as the only thing I did was leave my house in the morning to go down to New Utrecht Avenue to sit in a subway station. But I didn’t come back. I wasn’t going to. I sat there all day, until it got late and dark, and eventually even darker and so late that it was time for my mom to come home. And when she did and saw that I’m gone, she called the cops and they found me instantly. Picture a pink haired girl sitting on a bench in an all Hasidic neighborhood. Not a rocket science to spot my cotton candy stack of hair even in the middle of a dark subway station. So I was brought home that same night, safe and sound, and feeling like an

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“Requiem For Ishmael” — a short story by Jeanine DeHoney

There had to be hundreds of people standing in the rain, waiting to get into Misty’s Supper Club on Lenox Avenue for my brother Ishmael’s memorial. I swallowed the lump of grief in the back of my throat and surveyed the crowd, fans and protégé’s of his music, as varied as a pot of jambalaya.

Some people recognized me from seeing

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“Louisiana Pearl” — a short story by Bokerah Brumley

The faraway trumpet’s trill drifted into the home we shared. The tune stirred the heavy air. It should have been spring weather, but a heatwave had taken over our parish. It made the air heavy and made us languid during the days.

Mama hummed along with the hand-me-down song while she worked, stirring the wash or cooking supper or mixing herbs. Her mama taught her to hear it, same as she taught me. It was as constant as the wind.

Mama’s gray strands peeked from beneath a dark blue kerchief, the majority braided then twirled in an age-thinned bun. She didn’t know how old she was. Best she could figure, she was

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #41 — “You Blows What You Is,” by Ruth Knafo Setton

The port of Casablanca was crammed with Vichy officers, soldiers, cops, thieves and criminals. Each night I slept behind sand dunes, and each morning, washed in the freezing sea and shook myself dry in the winter wind. My shirt and trousers were stiff with salt and stuck to my chest, arms and legs. I figured it would be easy to steal a sweater or coat, grab it off a café chair while its owner ate and drank. But each time I stuck my head inside a restaurant and started weaving between tables, the owner threatened to call the cops.

No cops, no officers, no father whipping me, never again. I’d lie low, steal what I needed, and owe no one a damned thing.

Ten days after I arrived in Casablanca, a shipload of

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Mind of Blue: Conveying Emotion Affects Brain’s Creativity Network

In a recent University of California, San Francisco study involving jazz pianists, according to the public release document associated with the research, neuroscientists have concluded that “the workings of neural circuits associated with creativity are significantly altered when artists are actively attempting to express emotions.”

The public release, entitled “Mind of Blue: Conveying Emotion Affects Brain’s Creativity Network,” reminds us that during the act of improvisation, a brain region known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is “involved in planning and monitoring behavior” is deactivated, allowing the musician to enter into a “flow state” that artists enter to

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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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“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

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“Dizzy Moods” — a short story by Daniel Alvarado

Three cars honked almost in union. Then successively, each a blare in order, one two three, then two three one three four with the line through, beat ripitum boom, ba, riptum boom, now hear it a little faster, just a little faster, lips to instrument, trumpet, three valves, infinite notes to jot to sing to blow, perched lips, fat cheeks, cosmic energy of the union, the intertwined with keys of ivory.

Marcus Breck was recalling stepping on stage the first time. Nervousness rising from toes to a tingling head. Dry mouth, the initial silence of the room that precedes the beginning of

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“A Man’s Hands En Clave” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Club Havana was known for hosting decent Afro-Cuban jazz bands. There was dancing Thursdays through Sundays, and Sunday afternoons, the management handed out free cigars. Hector became close to the house band, whose rhythm section inspired him. He thought the drummer Manny was off the charts. Completely bald, he wore leather bands that cinched his pump wrists as if to keep his hands from flying off his body whenever he played fast and furious. A skinny, short guy played bongos, and a drunk worked the tumbadoras. Jorge, Carlos and Javier, all dapper guys, played horns. As if to distinguish themselves, one wore a mustache; another, a hat; and the other, wire rimmed glasses. Additionally, there was a young Julliard graduate on piano, a white-haired Cubano on flute, and a sax player who looked exactly like Lester Young. One afternoon, before their gig, Manny and Hector got to talking, and Hector started messing around on the tumbadoras, imitating what he had so often seen and heard. Manny raised his eyebrows and cocked his head. He liked this kid, and his sound was good.

“Why don’t you come hang with us this weekend. A few of us like to jam at Columbus Circle. Come along and let’s see how you work those congas in a group.”

Over the course of the summer, Hector hung out in the park. It was there he met

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Live From New York, it’s Saturday Night Live, featuring musical guest…Gil Scott-Heron

Tonight, NBC presents a 40-year anniversary show on Saturday Night Live, which, during that time has presented many cutting-edge (and let’s face it, at times very drab) comedic moments and personalities. While the show is known for its comedy, musical performances have at times made the show staying up past normal bedtime hours a worthwhile option. One of those moments was a December, 1976 SNL hosted by Richard Pryor, who hand-picked his musical guest, the soul/jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron. That memorable appearance is reported on by Marcus Baram in this excerpt from his biography Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces of a Man:

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In the fall of 1975, Gil got a call from Richard Pryor, who invited him to be a musical guest on an upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live, which Pryor was going to host in a few weeks. Pryor invited him after hearing a story about Gil that impressed the comic: A few months earlier, Gil had been invited by singer Roberta Flack to perform on

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“In a Blue Moon, Once” — a short story by Richard Herring

“Night of the living dead,” a voice screamed in Tom’s head. A softer voice pointed out it was still late afternoon. It sure wasn’t life as he wanted to know it. In reality, it was just another long Thursday afternoon of monthly staff meetings, with new mandates and standards flowing downhill from the top. All the nodding mannequins around the conference room would take it all in, shoot a few inane, brown nose comments back at the presenter, then go back to do their jobs tomorrow the same as always.

Sylvia’s attention was on the crochet hoop in her lap. Jack’s eyes had been closed for the better part of 45 minutes. Tom’s life support system came through the cord fed neatly up beneath the lapel, to the headphones partially obscured by thick sideburns and abundant head of hair. A collection of earpieces was present among these old codgers, but his was connected to the brand new cassette player in his suit coat pocket.

The tape Mikki turned him on to seemed to emanate from a place beyond his routine, tired existence. It was as if the music offered a

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Interview with Thomas Brothers — author of Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism

In Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism, Thomas Brothers picks up where he left off with the acclaimed Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans, following the story of the great jazz musician into his most creatively fertile years in the 1920s and early 1930s, when Armstrong created not one but two modern musical styles. Brothers wields his own tremendous skill in making the connections between history and music accessible to everyone as Armstrong shucks and jives across the page. Through Brothers’s expert ears and eyes we meet an Armstrong whose quickness and sureness, so evident in his performances, served him well in his encounters with racism while his music soared across the airwaves into homes all over America.

Brothers discusses his book with Jerry Jazz Musician publisher Joe Maita in an April, 2014 interview.

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“Epistrophy” – a short story by Arya Jenkins

The publication of Arya Jenkins’ “Epistrophy” is the third in a series of short stories she has been commissioned to write for Jerry Jazz Musician. For information about her column, please see our September 12 “Letter From the Publisher.” For Ms. Jenkins’ introduction to her work, read “Coming to Jazz.”

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Disenchanted leaves fell early through the trees the summer I left my life for an ashram. The path to the ashram snaked into the woods not far from Tanglewood and reminded me less of where I had been than where I was going with its rotund emphasis on kindness and formality-Within a year I would be studying Buddhism in a monastery and teaching English at Cornell in Ithaca.

I was attempting to put a punto finale to the moneyed nonsense in which I’d lived too long in Fairfield County, and wanted to quell my fulminating instinct, my destructive fires and find some kind of peace and stability, even at the expense of boredom–which may have been expecting too much.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #35: “The Usefulness of the Blues,” by Sam Lieberman

I’m lonely most nights. It’s part of my job. You can’t be happy if you want to play the blues. But there were some nights that made my misery worth it, where I felt light for once and everything fit together. I’m sure it was the absence of thought that did it. When I think about things, I realize how awful they are. But when I float out of my chains, having known what they were like, the freedom is all the sweeter.

January 8th was such a night.

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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

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Interview with Marc Myers, author of Why Jazz Happened

Marc Myers is a busy guy…In addition to being a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal (where he writes about jazz, rock, and other culture), he also posts daily on his award-winning blog Jazz Wax and travels around the world promoting his pursuits. Perhaps his most important contribution is his book Why Jazz Happened, described by his publisher (University of California Press) as “the first comprehensive social history of jazz.” Myers’ perspective is fresh and thorough and wonderfully entertaining. For those who love the history of this music, it should be on your night table.

I recently interviewed Myers about his book, which he took the time to converse in great detail about — topics like how the G.I. Bill altered the direction of jazz; the advent of the extended jazz solo that came with the introduction of the LP; and how the suburbanization of Southern California ushered in a new harmony-rich jazz style in contrast to the music played in urban markets. It is a great read!

What follows is part conversation/part history class about Myers’ fascinating cultural study of why, in his opinion, “jazz happened.”

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“The Bluest Train,” a short story by Arya Jenkins

My friend Carl lived in a house full of ghosts with an evil sonofabitch brother who stole his shit, I mean all of it. But Carl himself, man, Carl was good as gold. He would give you the shirt off his back–everything, and did.

I moved in with my ex-old lady across the street from him in the late 80s when I was drying out and desperate for change. Marcy took me in, even after I had been such a dick. She knew it was the booze made me sleep around, and even though she kicked my drunken ass out on the curb, she took me in once she saw I was sober and clean. By then, she was already shacked up with a polite, fat, slob who was everything I wasn’t or would ever be.

Homestead Avenue, where we lived, was a pleasant street in a nice section of Fairfield called Black Rock, near the water. At the time, people were starting to navigate to the hood, although since then real estate prices have dropped due to the many storms–there have been too many storms in the area, man. But because of Black Rock’s proximity to the sound, which is like the sea, artists and strange people gravitate there.

I noticed Carl right off the bat. You couldn’t help but see him sitting on his porch with his supersized feet, head and limbs, a Franken monster. So I crossed the street one day to meet my neighbor, who looked a sorry sight–blackish long hair

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Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 2

Paul Morris is a graphic designer and writer who collects album art of the 1940’s and 1950’s. He finds his examples of influential mid-century design in the used record stores of Portland, Oregon.

In this edition, Paul focuses on the art of Columbia

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Remembering Clifford Brown

October 30 is Clifford Brown’s 83rd birthday. Long since deceased (he died in a car crash in 1956 at age 25), his birthday is a reminder of the musical joy he shared with his listeners, and of his classic sound. For me, it is a time of remembrance and appreciation for the contribution he made to intensifying my interest in jazz. To this day, my memory is thick with the sound of “Joy Spring” filling my Berkeley apartment in the mid-1970’s, when I was falling in love with the music.

Check out what bandmate Harold Land said about Brown, and then treat yourself to a listen to “Joy Spring.”

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Connecting Fiction with Music

While in the midst of reviewing the stories from the over 100 entrants in our current Short Fiction Contest, I have been impressed by the spirit of creativity that shines through in virtually every submission. No matter the story theme, the creative energy and spontaneity is as frequently evident in the writer’s turn of a phrase as it is in a jazz musician’s harmonic progression.

The other day I got into a conversation about how jazz musicians of the 1950’s and the Beat era writers shared an artistic language and had similar creative values that showed up in a variety of examples. The one that came to mind first was in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” where Kerouac is inspired by a jazz performance in Chicago…This is what he writes:

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Book Excerpt from “Mingus Speaks,” by John Goodman

Charles Mingus is among jazz’s greatest composers and perhaps its most talented bass player. He was blunt and outspoken about the place of jazz in music history and American culture, about which performers were the real thing (or not), and much more. These in-depth interviews, conducted several years before Mingus died, capture the composer’s spirit and voice, revealing how he saw himself as composer and performer, how he viewed his peers and predecessors, how he created his extraordinary music, and how he looked at race.

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Outside In: A Jazz (and Writing) Odyssey, by Scott Shachter

In this June, 2013 essay, Scott Shachter shares many of the creative and business challenges he had to overcome before the first copy of his novel Outside In was pressed. It is a story many of our finest writers share today — that of remaining authentic in spirit and vision in a world where formula is most often rewarded.

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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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“Accent on Youth,” by Sam Bishoff

Sam Bishoff, a high school student from Bainbridge Island, Washington, is the 2012 Jerry Jazz Musician “Accent on Youth” writer. His passion for jazz and the challenges he faces as a youthful fan of it is the focus of the column.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #29: “Inspiration,” by Gabriella Costa

The garden by the sea is just beginning to grow into itself. Its green has started to spill out over the fence and tumble onto the walk that lines the side of the shore house. The weather is warming, and combined with the rich soil of the ground, the plants reap the favor of the earth, led to grow lush and vibrant across the expanse. The tendrils of the cucumbers have travelled far up their trellises, continuing to curl out into the air, while the bushes of basil nearby explode into a happy, bright leafed green.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #26: “The Improvisational Distance,” by J. A. Reynolds

Everyone is afraid to knock on the door when they hear the trumpet behind it. A closed door is like an On Air sign or a red light outside a dark room. Still, they have to talk to him. Sonny is nowhere to be found. And Thibodeau is too busy eye-fucking the women at the hotel bar to practice. And Baldwin is just tired.

They wait for a lull, a break. Three minutes waiting outside the door, and it comes. They knock soft, one of those we didn’t want to have to bother you but didn’t see any other recourse knocks; a musician has a way of using sound, its timbre, its breadth, to say everything. Knocking is no different.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #25: “Fahrenheit,” by Danny C. Knestaut

A trumpet squealed in the hospital halls. The note, like a brass rabbit, zipped past room 334. Moments later Mr. Fahrenheit watched two orderlies jog past the open door: not too fast, not real slow. It appeared to be the speed of indicated hurry. A few more notes from the trumpet whizzed down the hall before they too slowed to a jog, and then drew themselves out into expressions of gold, blue, green – then stopped before Mr. Fahrenheit could call the name of the song to mind. The next few notes he tapped out on the back of the hand he held in his own. His wife did not respond. Even he had begun to forget to expect a response. She inhaled. She exhaled. The eyes beneath her blue lids quivered and shimmered.

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Conversations with Gary Giddins: On his books Jazz and Warning Shadows

Giddins has been a frequent contributor to Jerry Jazz Musician. This is the 15th interview in our “Conversations with Gary Giddins” series. He joins us in a June 1, 2010 discussion about his two new books.

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Poetry by Bill Freedman

Something You Can Count On

I had, once, a Captain Midnight ring
that told the weather, or so they said.
Frankly, I don’t remember Captain Midnight,
didn’t listen to him much.
Don’t know what made him special,
what made him Captain Midnight, for that matter.
But I didn’t need to, knew in my 1947 heart of hearts

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Short Fiction Contest-winner #22: “No Thanks,” by Karen Karlitz

Thanksgiving, 1968. I can’t remember what I ate for dinner last night, but I see that day as clearly as if I’m watching it on an old Magnavox. My mother Rose buzzes around our cramped two-bedroom apartment in Queens, New York, her hair in rollers, no makeup. She’s beautiful though, anyone would agree. It’s early in the day. She retrieves the tablecloth my grandmother embroidered when a teenager herself from the back of the hall closet, and sets the dining table in the foyer with her best dishes (black and white Noritake), silver plate from Fortunoff’s, and real cloth napkins in a tasty shade of pumpkin. She’s been up since five cooking; pies were baked the night before. But although her culinary plans are running smoothly, my mother’s mood is lethal.

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Graham Lock and David Murray, editors of Thriving on a Riff: Jazz & Blues Influences in African American Literature and Film

The widespread presence of jazz and blues in African American visual art has long been overlooked. The Hearing Eye makes the case for recognizing the music’s importance, both as formal template and as explicit subject matter. Moving on from the use of iconic musical figures and motifs in Harlem Renaissance art, this groundbreaking collection explores the more allusive — and elusive — references to jazz and blues in a wide range of mostly contemporary visual artists.

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Great Encounters #27: When W.C. Handy traveled to New York for his first phonographic recording session and meeting with James Reese Europe

Excerpted from W.C. Handy: The Life and Times of the Man Who Made the Blues, by David Robertson

Harry Pace, even at his distance at Atlanta, always had been more innovative in marketing their firm’s songs in newer ways than Handy, and, as his career later reveals, he was interested in the possibilities of owning his own phonographic business. While on a trip for his insurance company to New York City

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #21: “Parker’s Mood,” by Leland Thoburn

In the fall of 1991 I believed I would be the next Charlie Parker. Few of the bands on campus had even heard of Bird, and the few that had did not want a flute player. This did not deter me. I was out on the commons at UCLA riffing on “Confirmation” when Nadine found me.

“That makes my nipples hard.” She smiled.

I lowered my flute and stared. She was wearing a man’s dress shirt, as if she’d spent the night away. The shirt did little to hide the truth of her statement. But that wasn’t what got my attention. It was her face. She had the knack of smiling with her whole face – eyes, cheeks, lips, nose. Everything got into the act.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #20: “Maybe Marrying Margaret,” by Jocelyn Crawley

There’s this painting she keeps staring at.

She imbibes it, absorbs everything it has to offer. A lilting shade of lavender, it features fourteen flawless flowers arranged with a meandering dissonance that flies in the face of the frame’s four square corners. They make its math seem maddening, symmetry superfluous.

“I like it,” she says quietly, tucking long brown strands of slightly curly hair behind her ears. She turns towards me slowly then, notes the slight adversarial something in my eyes. Intimately familiar with my proclivity for irreverent mocking, she now offers a slight smirk that seems just one shade shy of sly. Aware of my antagonism,

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #19: “Offkey” by Kate Robinson

If Mom and Dad had heard about my friend Benny and all that jazz from me, they’d have handled it. But when my fifth grade teacher ratted on us, it became a big, fat deal. Mom had to meet me in the front office after school and we silently trudged back to my classroom, both taking refuge in our own mental world.

Mrs. Drake motioned us to identical chairs in front of her desk. “I don’t want to alarm you. This isn’t an emergency, Mrs. McKenzie.” She forced her goosy face into a sympathetic mask. “Cathy’s not a problem child by any means.”

Mom’s shoulders relaxed under her starched cotton housedress, but her hands clutched the white gloves and tooled leather pocketbook positioned mid-lap.

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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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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #16: “Cipher,” by Colleen Anderson

It had been warm all day, the type of day where the heavy air presses into you and makes it hard to move. It didn’t help that her shift had been spent calling customers and listening to endless streams of why they couldn’t make their hydro payments. And they would yell, swear at her as if she had caused their loss of job, their alcoholism, their way of life. She absorbed it all, the words sinking through the membrane in her ear and resonating within the membrane of her mind long after the calls had stopped.

If there’d been a breeze, or a slight coolness to the air, then those words could have lifted from her. They heated her, churning and boiling within so that by the time she got the apartment door open her flesh looked glossy with the sweat.

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The Ralph Ellison Project — Arnold Rampersad, author of Ralph Ellison: A Biography

Ralph Ellison is justly celebrated for his epochal novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953 and has become a classic of American literature. But Ellison’s strange inability to finish a second novel, despite his dogged efforts and soaring prestige, made him a supremely enigmatic figure. In Ralph Ellison: A Biography, Arnold Rampersad skillfully tells the story of a writer whose thunderous novel and astute, courageous essays on race, literature, and culture assure him of a permanent place in our literary heritage.

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Joshua Prager, author of The Echoing Green:The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World

The 1951 regular season was as good as over. The Brooklyn Dodgers led the New York Giants by three runs with just three outs to go in their third and final playoff game. And not once in major league baseball’s 278 preceding playoff and World Series games had a team overcome a three-run deficit in the ninth inning. But New York rallied, and at 3:58 p.m. on October 3, 1951, Bobby Thomson hit a home run off Ralph Branca. The Giants won the pennant.

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Great Encounters #24: When Peggy Lee joined Benny Goodman’s band

Excerpted from FEVER: The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Lee, by Peter Richmond

In CHICAGO in August 1941, preparing for an engagement at the College Inn, Benny Goodman was staying at Frank Bering’s Ambassador East. One night, Benny’s fiancee, Lady Alice Duckworth, suggested that he come next door to the Buttery and catch the new girl singer. The imperious, handsome granddaughter of Commodore Vanderbilt – founder of the New York Central Railroad – Lady Duckworth was also John Hammond’s sister.

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Dunstan Prial, author of The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music

John Hammond is one of the most charismatic figures in American music, a man who put on record much of the music we cherish today. A pioneering producer and talent spotter, Hammond discovered and championed some of the most gifted musicians of early jazz — Billie Holliday, Count Basie, Charlie Christian, Benny Goodman — and staged the legendary “From Spirituals to Swing” concert at Carnegie Hall in 1939, which established jazz as America’s indigenous music. Then as jazz gave way to pop and rock Hammond repeated the trick, discovering Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan in his life’s extraordinary second act.

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Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Jazz Festivals

In a wide-ranging conversation, Gary Giddins — for many years the country’s most eminent jazz critic whose most recent collection of cultural criticism is titled Natural Selection — talks about his recent trip to Brazil’s Ouro Preto International Jazz Festival, the business of jazz festivals and touring, jazz education, and the debate concerning where today’s cutting-edge of jazz resides.

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Rick Coleman, author of Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll

While many think of Elvis Presley as rock ’n’ roll’s driving force, the truth is that Fats Domino, whose records have sold more than 100 million copies, was the first to put it on the map with such hits as “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill.”

In Blue Monday, acclaimed R&B scholar Rick Coleman draws on a multitude of new interviews with Fats Domino and many other early musical legends to create a definitive biography of not just an extraordinary man but also a unique time and place: New Orleans at the birth of rock ’n’ roll.

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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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Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era author Elizabeth Pepin

Billie Holiday singing at the New Orleans Swing Club. Dexter Gordon hanging out at Bop City. Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane all swinging through town for gigs. Sound like a nostalgic snapshot from the New York jazz scene, or perhaps New Orleans? Nope. This particular sentimental journey describes San Francisco’s Fillmore District in its heyday.

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Ashley Kahn, author of The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records

Following the path of its star musician John Coltrane, Impulse Records cut a creative swath through the 1960s and 1970s with the politically charged avant-garde jazz that defined the label’s musical and spiritual identity. Ashley Kahn’s The House That Trane Built tells the story of the label, balancing tales of individual passion, artistic vision, and commercial motivation.

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Short Story Contest-winning story #11: “Stalking Bella,” by Hope Payson

The whole stalking thing started with the footprints. They were so large that his size twelve’s fit easily into the indents in the snow, and the space between them was so wide that following them forced him into an awkward little step-jump. Large paw prints ran parallel to the human prints. He assumed that they belonged to a dog. What else could they be? Yet, what did he know about the customs or recreational habits of these Northern Maine people? For all he knew they strutted through the pines chatting with bears.

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“Up From New Orleans: Life Before, During and After Hurricane Katrina” — A conversation with transplanted New Orleans musicians Devin Phillips and Mark DiFlorio

“I’m always wondering,” Louis Armstrong wrote in 1966, “if it would have been best in my life if I’d stayed like I was in New Orleans, having a ball.”

In 1922, Armstrong left his city of New Orleans by choice, boarding a Chicago-bound train in his long underwear, carrying a “little” suitcase with a “few” clothes in it, his cornet, and a trout sandwich packed by mother Mayann.

In late August of 2005, an unimaginable number of New Orleans residents in the path of an oncoming Hurricane Katrina were left with little choice but to flee the city. One can only assume that few had the luxury of leisurely packing a suitcase, let alone a trout sandwich

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Brian Priestley, author of Chasin’ The Bird : The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker has been idolized by generations of jazz musicians and fans. Indeed, his spectacular musical abilities — his blinding speed and brilliant improvisational style — made Parker a legend even before his tragic death at age thirty-four.

In Chasin’ The Bird, Brian Priestley tells Parker’s life story, from his Kansas City childhood to his final harrowing days in New York. Priestley offers new insight into Parker’s career, beginning as a teenager single-mindedly devoted to mastering the saxophone, to his first trip to New York, where he washed dishes for $9.00 a week at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, a favorite hangout of the great pianist Art Tatum, whose stunning speed and ingenuity were an influence on the young musician.

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Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion/Volume Two: What musical recording(s) changed your life?

“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 musical recording(s) changed your life?

Featuring Dianne Reeves, Francis Davis, Fred Hersch, Jim Hall, Joshua Redman, Nat Hentoff and others…

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Conversations with Gary Giddins: A History of Jazz in New Orleans

This edition of “Conversation with Gary Giddins” is the first of three Jerry Jazz Musician features devoted to the importance of New Orleans culture. In an enlightening, passionate conversation, Giddins — for many years the country’s most eminent jazz critic — discusses the beginnings of jazz in the city of New Orleans, its prominent figures, and what needs to be done to properly market jazz in a city that has contributed so much toward shaping the soul of America.

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Book Review/”Weatherbird,” by Gary Giddins

The world of jazz criticism is enriched every time Gary Giddins brings out a new book, and Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of its Second Century, bulges with riches. The collection is mostly drawn from his recently-ended Village Voice column (also called “Weather Bird”), with the addition of significant essays published elsewhere. Even faithful readers of the Voice will find ample new Giddins material here.

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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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David Evanier, author of Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin

As a performer, Bobby Darin rivaled Frank Sinatra. Energizing the early rock-and-roll scene with his rollicking classic “Splish Splash,” Darin then became a top-draw nightclub act. Chronic illness dogged him from childhood, setting the tone of urgency that inspired a career full of dizzying twists and turns: from teen idol to Vegas song-and-dance man, and from hipster to folkie and back.

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Nick Salvatore, author of Singing in a Strange Land: C.L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America

There are few American lives more powerful or more moving than that of C. L. Franklin. Born in rural Mississippi, he would go on to become the most famous African American preacher in America. His style of preaching revolutionized the art, and his call for his fellow African Americans to proclaim both their faith and their rights helped usher in the civil rights movement. Booming, soaring, flashy, and intense, C.L. was one of a kind. And yet Franklin was, like many great public figures, immensely complicated. A beacon of faith and light, he also knew the shadows. He knew the power of the Lord, yet he was no saint. In Singing in a Strange Land, Bancroft Prize-winning historian Nick Salvatore tells Franklin’s story for the first time.

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Great Encounters #16: When drummer Joe Morello joined the Dave Brubeck Quartet

Excerpted from Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond by Doug Ramsey

By the fall of 1956, Joe Dodge was worn down by the travel and the intense schedule and wanted to be with his family. He told Brubeck it was time to look for another drummer. In the Quartet’s New York stays, Desmond had heard Marian McPartland’s trio and was impressed with Joe Morello, the drummer who had been working with her since 1953. Morello, born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1928, played there with alto saxophonist Phil Woods and guitarist Sal Salvador before he moved to New York

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #8: “Natural Selection,” Jackson Lassiter

The rigid wooden slats of the park bench press relentlessly against the length of my goose-pimpled back. A stocking cap rides low over my ears and most of my forehead, and a wool blanket — cocooned around my prone body — laps over my chin and tucks snugly around the sides of my face. Only my eyes, nose, and weather-cracked lips brave the raw chill. I gaze skyward as the frozen minutes slowly pass. I wouldn’t normally choose to rest here in the dead of winter, but tonight I didn’t have a choice. In life you are either a have or a have-not. Mike and I are have-not’s.

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Michael Dregni, author of Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend

Django Reinhardt was arguably the greatest guitarist who ever lived, an important influence on Les Paul, Charlie Christian, B.B. King, Jerry Garcia, Chet Atkins, and many others. Handsome, charismatic, childlike, and unpredictable, Reinhardt was a character out of a picaresque novel. Born in a gypsy caravan at a crossroads in Belgium, he was almost killed in a freak fire that burned half of his body and left his left hand twisted into a claw. But with this maimed left hand flying over the frets and his right hand plucking at dizzying speed, Django became Europe’s most famous jazz musician, commanding exorbitant fees — and spending the money as fast as he made it.

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