Book Excerpt: The Letters of Cole Porter, by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh

March 11th, 2020

 

.

.

.

…..Much is known about the life and genius of songwriter Cole Porter, whose music appears in many of Broadway’s most successful and beloved musicals, including Kiss Me Kate, Can-Can and Silk Stockings.  His most popular tunes are found at the heart of the Great American Songbook, “Night and Day,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “In the Still of the Night” and “You’re the Top,” among them, and his work also touched Hollywood, in films like Born to Dance, Rosalie, High Society, and Les Girls.

…..Several Cole Porter biographies and biographical films have been written and produced, enough to acquaint us with a meaningful understanding of his life – of his wealth and luxurious lifestyle, his sexuality and marriage, and his tragic horse riding accident that caused lifelong pain and, eventually, a leg amputation.

…..In The Letters of Cole Porter, a comprehensive collection of surviving correspondence that has recently been published, much of what is known about Porter is discussed by Porter and his family, friends, and business associates.  In a recent interview, Dominic McHugh, the book’s co-author (with Cliff Eisen), told me that one of the results of the book is 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.  Our idea was to show what the archives say about Cole Porter in contrast to what people think about him.”

…..This book is revealing and, ultimately, wonderfully rewarding.  It helps being a Porter fan, but it isn’t necessary because the correspondence is an often entertaining inside look at a complicated man – wealthy but frequently anxious about money; gay yet in love with his wife; devoted friend who embraces relationships and the challenge of his work with warmth and delight until health issues finally overcome his spirit.

…..With the consent of Mr. McHugh and the book’s publisher, Yale University Press, the following ten page book excerpt provides a generous example of what the reader will discover in the book.  The excerpt includes correspondence in the time frame of June to August, 1953, including those with George Byron (the man who married Jerome Kern’s widow), fellow writer Abe Burrows, Noel Coward, his secretary Madeline P. Smith, close friend Sam Stark, and his lawyer John Wharton.  .Between the letters, McHugh and Eisen provide commentary that add context to them.

.

My extensive interview with Dominic McHugh will be published in March, along with those with Richard Crawford, author of Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music, and James Kaplan, author of Irving Berlin: New York Genius.

.

.

_____

.

.

.

Excerpted from The Letters of Cole Porter by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh. Copyright © 2019 by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press

.

.

Note that the letters are preceded by author commentary

.

___

.

…..In the following letter to the singer George Byron (who married Jerome Kern’s widow), Porter answers questions about the inspiration for eight of his songs:

……………………30 June 1953: Cole Porter to George Byron

Dear George:
…..Under separate cover, by Registered mail, I return the sheet music which you so kindly sent to me. The following are the stories which I can remember concerning the numbers included, and most of these stories are very dull.
…..1. HOT HOUSE ROSE. Fanny Brice visited Venice in 1926, when my wife and I were living in the Palazzo Rezzonico. At this time in my life I had given up all hope of ever being successful on Broadway and had taken up painting but Fannie, [sic] whom we grew to know very well, asked me to write a song for her. This was the reason for HOT HOUSE ROSE. When I finished it I invited her to the Rezzonico to hear it and afterwards she always told friends how wonderfully incongruous it was, that I should have demonstrated to her this song about a poor little factory girl as she sat beside me while I sang and played it to her on a grand piano that looked lost in our ballroom, whose walls were entirely decorated by Tiepolo paintings and was so big that if we gave a Ball for less than one thousand people in this room they seemed to be entirely lost. She never sang the song.
…..2. IT’S BAD FOR ME. This I wrote for Gertrude Lawrence. The name of the show was Nymph Errant; book by Romney Brent. I did the music and lyrics and it was produced by C. B. Cochran in 1933 in London but never played New York, although it was a great success. Gertie sang this song in a train compartment to a Parisian producer who had made her acquaintance when she boarded the train in Zurich, on her way to England from a Swiss Ladies Finishing School. Gertie was supposed to have reached home by June 20th. She did reach home June 20th but a year later, due to the advice that she received from her Science teacher, who sang to all the girls as they were graduating the song, Experiment.
…..3. EXPERIMENT. This has been explained above.
…..4. GIVE HIM THE OO LA LA. This song was written at the last moment in Boston during the tryout of DU BARRY WAS A LADY, when we all suddenly realized that Ethel Merman didn’t have quite enough material, as she was so great in this show. This show was also interesting for the fact that it was the first time Betty Grable played Broadway, and she made an instantaneous hit.
…..5. AFTER YOU. I shall always be grateful to AFTER YOU because I had been engaged by Dwight Wiman for Gay Divorce. Our great hope was to persuade Fred Astaire to play the lead. We were living in Paris at the time and I asked Fred over to the house to hear what I had written so far. Once I had played AFTER YOU he decided to do the show.
…..6. LOOKING AT YOU. I wrote LOOKING AT YOU for Clifton Webb, when I was doing a review at Les Ambassadeurs in Paris in 1927. Clifton did it so well that in 1929 I put it in the score of WAKE UP AND DREAM in London, where it was sung by Sonny Hale. Later, when Jack Buchanan starred in WAKE UP AND DREAM on Broadway he sang this song.
…..7. OURS. I wrote OURS for the motion picture BORN TO DANCE in 1936. It was thrown out. I put it in the score of RED, HOT AND BLUE, a Broadway show starring Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope. It was thrown out.
…..8. WALTZ DOWN THE AISLE. I wrote WALTZ DOWN THE AISLE for a Broadway show named ANYTHING GOES. It was thrown out, so the next year I put it in the score of JUBILEE. It was thrown out.
Let me congratulate you on all three albums. I played the Kern Album and the Gershwin Album* over and over and they are delightful.
…..My best to you both.
…..Sincerely,
…..[unsigned]

.

…..In the middle of a positive period of work, with Can-Can set in for a long run and the Kiss Me Kate film in the middle of production, Porter wrote to his friend and copyist Dr Albert Sirmay and mentioned his next Broadway project:

.

9 July 1953: Cole Porter to Albert Sirmay

.

Dear Doctor:
…..Thank you very much for your letter of June 30th. I don’t like any of Mr. Kassern’s French lyrics enough. If you think I should pay him something for his effort I should be delighted to do so and then, if later I change my mind and use the lyrics, I shall naturally pay him whatever he would ask. For the time being, however, get me out of this tactfully.
…..I don’t see why you continue giving flattering offers to the people connected with Kismet as Frank Loesser tells me that he is publishing the score.
…..In answer to your letter of July 3rd, regarding your bet that we would receive unanimously favorable notices for CAN-CAN. You simply use as a weapon one notice from Variety. This was made before the weekly magazines appeared with their blasts, so you will have to dine with me at Le Pavillon when I return and we shall discuss this matter in detail – over a big souffle. It does seem, however, as if the unfavorable notices have done little harm as Cy Feuer, who is here, assures me that we shall be sold out over the dog-days.
…..Keep this under your old Hungarian hat, but Cy came out to see me regarding doing a new show with him and Ernie [Martin], and brought along an excellent script written by George S. Kaufman and his wife. It is based upon NINOTCHKA but it is much funnier, with an excellent love story. I have decided to do it so I go back into slavery on August 1st, scared but happy. Thank you very much for the new sheet music cover for MY HEART BELONGS TO DADDY.
…..Lots of love,
…..[signed:] Cole

.

…..Porter also mentioned the Ninotchka musical – based on the famous Greta Garbo film of 1939 – to his lawyer, John Wharton, who by now was managing all his business affairs. The show would become Silk Stockings (1955). The letter furthermore discusses a possible revival of Nymph Errant, which had been produced in London by Charles Cochran in 1933:

.

9 July 1953: Cole Porter to John Wharton

.

Dear John:
…..I enclose a letter from one of my dearest friends, L. C. Hanna, Jr. He was in my class in college and he is now a very big shot in Cleveland. Will you please look into the contents of his letter and answer him direct?
…..I don’t see how you can possibly get all the rights to do this show,* without infinite work, and I wonder if it is worth it. As you probably remember, Charlie Cochran died about two years ago and I imagine his estate is in the hands of his wife, Evelyn, who has been drunk for years. In any case, try to answer Len Hanna as tactfully as possible.
…..Keep it under your hat, but it looks as if I was going to do a new show for Feuer and Martin. They have come up with an excellent script.
…..All my best.
…..Sincerely,
…..[signed:] Cole

.

Wharton replied in July to say that he believed the materials were lost.

…..Also in mid-July Porter replied to Burrows’s letters from June, because he had not had the writer’s address while he was abroad. The most interesting part of his reply is his initial reaction to Kiss Me Kate on the screen (four months before its official release), with a mixture of feelings about the use of technology:

.

 

 

14 July 1953: Cole Porter to Abe Burrows

.

Dear Abe:
…..I haven’t written you before because I attempted to send you a birthday cable and the news came back that you had left your Paris hotel, leaving no forwarding address. I don’t believe this.
 …..Now that I know you are safe in New York again I want to thank you so much for the two great letters you sent me. Your paragraph in one letter, describing the show as having all the attributes of a child, is so true that I have put it in my scrapbook. In your other letter you wrote me how   much you liked the painting by Vertes. I can’t tell you how happy I am that it pleased you.
 …..I have been watching KISS ME, KATE at Metro. Unfortunately, it has been shot in that silly 3D (how I hate those glasses!) and it has also been shot in “flat”. In both versions there is a wide screen. Metro has a new color process called Ansco* which is very superior to Technicolor and the picture is extraordinarily beautiful to look at. I don’t know the pace of the picture yet as there was [sic] always long pauses between each reel. The revelation of the picture, however, is the performance of Howard Keel,† who is an excellent Petruchio. He is everything that one would NOT expect – flamboyant and romantic. Also, his diction is perhaps even better than Alfred Drake’s.
 …..I spend a lot of time here going out in the evenings, and it is so much fun to loll in somebody’s sitting room and see an unreleased picture every night– although I still think it is unfair to the picture to be plied with Martinies and New York Cut and then have all the lights go out.
 …..Cy and Posey [Feuer] have been here and it was a joy to see them.
 …..Isn’t it nice that our little CAN-CAN is doing so well!
 …..My love to you and Carin and, again, my gratitude for those two wonderful letters.
 …..Love,
 …..[signed:] Cole

.

 …..In July, Noël Coward wrote to Porter to ask for permission to perform his own lyrics for ‘Let’s Do It’ during his cabaret residency in Las Vegas. In his response Porter mentions Linda’s health, which had only recently recovered from problems over the winter:

.

14 July 1953: Cole Porter to Noël Coward

.

Dear Noley:
 …..Thanks a lot for your letter of June 11th, explaining the lyrics of LET’S DO IT.
 …..I hear nothing but great reports about your different efforts.
 …..We are having a heat wave here and I am in a constant rage. The reason I always come to this place for the summer is to avoid the horror of our east coast.
 …..Linda is at our house in the Berkshires and having a ball. After being seriously ill most of the winter she is entirely well again and it makes me so happy every time we talk on the telephone. Her guests now are Mainbocher and his friend, Pollard. They stay through July and then Natascha [Wilson] and Nickie come up, so she is well taken care of while I gad about with the Goetzes.
 …..Love,
 …..[signed:] Cole

.
 …..At the end of June, the New York Times had revealed that Porter’s mother left $551,550 in her estate, most of it to Cole. It is noticeable that he complains of his finances much less often in the letters from 1953. Perhaps Porter’s recent inheritance was behind his decision to raise his secretary’s salary in July:

.

15 July 1953: Cole Porter to Madeline P. Smith

.

Dear Mrs. Smith:
 …..Ever since arriving here I have been conscious of doing you an injustice, as you do so much work for me while I am away. Therefore I have arranged with Ford Dixon today to send you your full salary, retrospective to the last half of May. You will be on full salary throughout the year and, if circumstances permit, we will continue this arrangement in the future but the time might arise when I could no longer afford this and would have to put you on half-salary again in my absence.
 …..Please send the Arthur Fiedler Boston Pops record of CAN-CAN to all the original list. Each of these records should have an adaptor placed in it’s [sic] center before sending. The company from whom you order these will understand what I mean.
 …..Also, please send to me here one MGM album (33 speed) of THE BAND WAGON. Send me two Jan August recordings of ALLEZ-VOUS EN.
 …..Sincerely,
 …..[signed:] Cole Porter

.
 …..In the 1950s the nature of celebrity shifted with the expansion of televi- sion. At the same time, the mature Porter had started to realize, thanks to the guidance of Wharton and his colleagues, that his name was a brand that could be significantly commercialized. The next two letters show an approach, and Porter’s uncertain response to it, from Old Angus scotch, who wanted to use his name in their advertising:

.

21 July 1953: Lawrence Fertig & Company to Cole Porter

.

Dear Mr. Porter:
 …..It is the most difficult thing in the world, I think, to come to an artist (and a sophisticated one at that!) with anything remotely resembling a business endeavor! But come to you I must for I have the conviction that you would be perfect for the following endeavor and will not, of course, be satisfied until I learn your pleasure.
 …..One of this advertising agency’s clients, the Old Angus scotch people, have a yearly campaign featuring four celebrities of various realms, celebrities who will have an appeal to the men who are ostensibly their audience – men who are metropolitan in ways, well-read, dignified in their behavior and who have reached a point in life where they can afford to enjoy the work of those celebrities. In the past, we have featured Bennett Cerf, Peter Arno, Ogden Nash, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Arthur Fiedler and Maurice Evans,* and I have just concluded successful negotiations for S. J. Perelman for this year’s campaign. I would, of course, like to maintain this pattern, and, of course, enhance it. It is for this very reason that I come to you (as a matter of fact, it is with an enormous amount of restraint that I remain this objective – having the personal idolatry I do for your music!).
 …..Our advertising is done almost entirely in The New Yorker, Time and Esquire magazines and we offer (other than a television set or like piece of furniture, or the client’s product or a check in the amount of $500 – really more a gratuity than an enticement!) the opportunity of a credit line (in your case, I would imagine your record albums would be your choice) which would benefit by an audience of the width and kind of this campaign.
 …..Would you be good enough to let me know what your decision is and if you should wish any other particulars, I shall be happy to oblige. I am enclosing a tear sheet of one of the past ads for your information.
 …..Thank you for your courtesy.
 …..Cordially yours,
 …..[signed] Patricia Bunker

.

23 July 1953: Cole Porter to Robert Montgomery

.
Dear Bob:
 …..Will you please look into the enclosed from the Lawrence Fertig Advertising agency? If, without much trouble, I could get $500.00 for the Runyan [sic] Cancer Fund for this ad it might be wise for me to do it. On the other hand, in the past I have received much more than this for lending my name and photograph to products and maybe it would be a bad precedent to come down suddenly to $500.00. As I remember,  I received either $2,500.00 or $2,000.00. Whatever you decide will be O.K. with me.
 …..Best regards,
 …..Sincerely,
 …..[signed:] Cole

.

 …..By early August, Porter was hard at work on the musical based on Ninotchka, which would eventually become Silk Stockings. The subject of the show had been announced in the New York Times on 26 July: ‘[The] department ferret now brings to light the fact that the musical Mr. Porter will do is “Ninotchka”. George S. Kaufman and his wife, Leueen McGrath [sic], are well along in their task of fashioning the book based on Melchior Lengyel’s* satire of Soviet life . . . Probably only the basic idea will remain and, indeed, the title is bound to go the morning someone gets an inspiration either in the shower or while shaving.’ The following letter to Ernest Martin, co-producer of the show with Cy Feuer, suggests Porter was looking for material that he could use in the song ‘Paris Loves Lovers’:
 
.

5 August 1953: Cole Porter to Ernest Martin

.

Dear Ernie:
 …..Could you put your Research Department on the following:
 …..Phrases, nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs which are most commonly used by Soviet Russia?
 …..The first adjective that comes to my mind is “capitalistic”. These phrases, etc., should be pro-communistic and anti-communistic.
 …..Love to you and Pem Davenport.
 …..[signed:] Co e [sic]

.

.
…..Two weeks later, Porter had also drafted the song ‘All of You’, then titled ‘Of You’ in a letter to Cy Feuer:

.

21 August 1953: Cole Porter to Cy Feuer

.

Dear Cy:
 …..Please find enclosed the newest lyric to OF YOU, which I also consider the best. Please destroy the other two lyrics which you have. I have a series of substitute lines for this song which we can use in case the enclosed lyric doesn’t apply.
 …..Tell Ernie [Martin] that his niece, Ann, came to lunch with me yesterday and has started the research on the current Russian cliches. I found her very attractive and as bright as a button. She explained that she had been employed by Ernie and you to do this work, so that I no longer felt embarrassed about asking for favors. Thank you both a lot for helping me in this research.
 …..Haven’t you a spare script of Ninotchka around that you could send to me? Even though it is not yet correct, by reading it over and over again I could perhaps get some good ideas.
 …..All my best.
 …..Sincerely,
 …..[signed:] Cole

.

 

 …..In August, Porter wrote a typically eclectic letter to Sam Stark, though he did not mention Silk Stockings. The comments on two other famous musicals – Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey and Wright and Forrest’s Kismet – are intriguing:
.

21 August 1953: Cole Porter to Sam Stark

.

Dear Sammy:
 …..Your charming letter, full of treasure, appeared and I thank you. As for the Boston Pops recording* – throw it in the sea!
 …..I have examined the photographs of you in detail and I will NOT take this alibi about your fatness keeping you from coming up for lunch one Sunday. Why don’t you be honest and simply say that you don’t want to come to lunch? You write that a cousin of Harriet’s [sic] arrives on Sunday. Cousins of Harriet’s [sic] are always arriving. How many are there?
 …..I saw KISMET† last night and a lot of it is excellent. It is corn but, after all, you prefer corn. I don’t think, however, you will like it as much as the Student Prince.
 …..You cannot lure me to dine with you at Perino’s on Tuesday, September first, and go to see Pal Joey* with you. I hate dining early and I hate Pal Joey, but I would love nothing better than to have you both come up and dine with me one night, without cousins. That is, if this is not too long a trek for you, since after dinner there is no way in which I could provide a Broadway production . . .
 …..Love to you both.
 …..Your former friend,
 …..[signed:] Cole

.

___

.

 

.

.

Excerpted from The Letters of Cole Porter by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh. Copyright © 2019 by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press

.

.

Cliff Eisen is professor of music history at King’s College London. Dominic McHugh is reader in musicology at the University of Sheffield and a leading authority on Broadway.

.

.

.

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A Letter From the Publisher

An appeal for contributions to support the ongoing publishing efforts of Jerry Jazz Musician

In This Issue

The Modern Jazz Quintet by Everett Spruill
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2023 Edition

A wide range of topics are found in this collection. Tributes are paid to Tony Bennett and Ahmad Jamal and to the abstract worlds of musicians like Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders; the complex lives of Chet Baker and Nina Simone are considered; devotions to Ellington and Basie are revealed; and personal solace is found in the music of Tommy Flanagan and Quartet West. These are poems of peace, reflection, time, venue and humor – all with jazz at their core. (Featuring the art of Everett Spruill)

The Sunday Poem

“Mirabella,” by Samuel Lind
“Queen” by Emily Jon Tobias

Poetry

The poet Connie Johnson in 1981
In a Place of Dreams: Connie Johnson’s album of jazz poetry, music, and life stories...A collection of the remarkable poet's work is woven among her audio readings, a personal narrative of her journey and music she considers significant to it, providing readers the chance to experience the full value of her gifts.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII

Interview

photo courtesy of Henry Threadgill
Interview with Brent Hayes Edwards, co-author (with Henry Threadgill) of Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music...The author discusses his work co-written with Threadgill, the composer and multi-instrumentalist widely recognized as one of the most original and innovative voices in contemporary music, and the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Poetry

"Jazz Diva" by Marsha Hammel
A brief collection of poetry devoted to jazz…and love...Seven poets combine the music of jazz with an act of love…

Poetry

photo of Bill Evans by Veryl Oakland
Six poets, six poems on Bill Evans...A poetic appreciation for the work of the legendary pianist

Feature

Joel Lewis
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

Poetry

"The Dancer" by Elaine Croce Happnie
“The Dancer” – a poem by Zoya Gargova

Playlist

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“A Baker’s Dozen Playlist of Ella Fitzgerald Specialties from Five Decades,” as selected by Ella biographer Judith Tick...Chosen from Ella’s entire repertoire, Ms. Tick’s intriguing playlist (with brief commentary) is a mix of studio recordings, live dates, and video, all available for listening here.

Poetry

painting by Henry Denander
A collection of jazz haiku...This collection, featuring 22 poets, is an example of how much love, humor, sentimentality, reverence, joy and sorrow poets can fit into their haiku devoted to jazz.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII...Announcing the six writers nominated for the Pushcart Prize v. XLVIII, whose work was published in Jerry Jazz Musician during 2023.

Poetry

photo of Sarah Vaughan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
”Sarah” – a poem by Connie Johnson

Short Fiction

photo vi Wallpaper Flare
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #63 — “Company” by Anastasia Jill...Twenty-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.

Photography

photo of Anthony Braxton by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Anthony Braxton...Beginning in 1990, the noted photographer Giovanni Piesco began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world. Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the saxophonist Anthony Braxton, taken in January, 2015.

Interview

Chick Webb/photographer unknown
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.

Poetry

photo by Ric Brooks Knoxville, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Four Sides Live” – a poem by Justin Hare

Community

FOTO:FORTEPAN / Kölcsey Ferenc Dunakeszi Városi Könyvtár / Petanovics fényképek, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
.“Community Bookshelf, #1"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Poetry

photo of Cab Calloway by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“Zoot Suit Times (Rhythms From the Past)” – a poem by Oliver Lake

Poetry

Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 17: “All I know about music is not many people ever really hear it”

Short Fiction

photo via joogleberry.com
“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.

Playlist

photo by Bob Hecht
This 28-song Spotify playlist, curated by Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht, features great tunes performed by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Lester Young, Stan Getz, and…well, you get the idea.

Jazz History Quiz #168

photo of Coleman Hawkins by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Jazz History Quiz #168...In addition to being a top bassist between 1945 – 1960, he was the first major jazz soloist on the cello. He also played on Coleman Hawkins’ 1943 recording of “The Man I Love,” and appeared with Hawkins and Howard McGhee in the film The Crimson Canary. Who is he?

Short Fiction

Tents at Nuseirat, southern Palestine, UNRRA's biggest camp for Greek refugees/via United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
“Remember to Forget” – a short story by Amadea Tanner...Ms. Tanner's story, a finalist in the recently concluded 63rd Short Fiction Contest, is about a war correspondent's haunting revelations after she comes across musicians in a refugee camp.

Interview

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950’s Quartets...Long regarded as jazz music’s most eminent baritone saxophonist, Gerry Mulligan was a central figure in “cool” jazz whose contributions to it also included his important work as a composer and arranger. Noted jazz scholar Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950s Quartets, and Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht discuss Mulligan’s unique contributions to modern jazz.

Photography

photo by Giovanni Piesco
Giovanni Piesco’s photographs of Tristan Honsinger

Short Fiction

Mary Pickford, 1918/trialsanderrors, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
“Bashert” – a short story by Diane Lederman...This story, a finalist in the 63rd Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, looks at the hopes one man has that a woman he meets the night before he leaves for Camp Devens will keep him alive during World War I so he can return and take her out for dinner

Book Excerpt

“Chick” Webb was one of the first virtuoso drummers in jazz and an innovative bandleader dubbed the “Savoy King,” who reigned at Harlem’s world-famous Savoy Ballroom. Stephanie Stein Crease is the first to fully tell Webb’s story in her biography, Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat that Changed America…The book’s entire introduction is excerpted here.

Feature

Hans Christian Hagedorn, professor for German and Comparative Literature at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real (Spain) reveals the remarkable presence of Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote in the history of jazz.

Short Fiction

“In the Church Library” – a short story by Zary Fekete

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music, by Henry Threadgill and Brent Hayes Edwards

Contributing Writers

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

Interview

photo of Sonny Rollins by Brian McMillen
Interview with Aidan Levy, author of Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins...The author discusses his book about the iconic tenor saxophonist who is one of the greatest jazz improvisers of all time – a lasting link to the golden age of jazz

Art

Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance: “Outtakes” — Vol. 2...In this edition, the authors Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder share examples of Cha Cha Cha record album covers that didn't make the final cut in their book

Pressed for All Time

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

Coming Soon

An interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song;...An interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer; A new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works…

Interview Archive

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

Site Archive