Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Q&A with Martin Torgoff

I recently reviewed Martin Torgoff's book Bop Apocalypse; Jazz, Race, The Beats and Drugs. Mr. Torgoff was kind enough to answer a few questions I sent to him via email.

One of the things that jazz people still try to understand is why so many players became heroin addicts in the 40's and 50's, even after it was clear that using junk would not make you the player Bird was. Did your understanding of this change before and after your research? Were you satisfied with the level of understanding you achieved about this question, or does it still seem puzzling? 

Drug use is always a very complex and challenging subject, always made more so by the ideologies and hot buttons contained therein. I find it useful to try and look at it from the vantage point of the concept of set and setting, set being all of the factors and ideas around the drug phenomenon and setting being where it happens. In this case the setting is the jazz culture of the 20th century to 1960, and the set is all of the cultural, racial, social and political currents swirling around it. And beyond that is the human element. The idea that so many of the artists got on to dope because of Bird was only prevalent at the beginning of the heroin scene from '45 to '47--that was when it was a critical factor, but it went so much deeper than that. My research made me realize how the story of jazz and heroin and the aspect of the jazz lifestyle during that time was a story that played out against a whole backdrop that encompassed everything from the mafia's organization of the global heroin trade, policies of the police and the US government, and what happened in Harlem as a result--really the first great modern drug epidemic and an American tragedy. Dizzy Gillespie pointed out that very few in the community of jazz musicians and the larger African American community of that time really understood the implications or ramifications of heroin at first. I learned a tremendous amount but I am still staggered by how these artists managed to produce such a remarkable body of classic American music despite being strung out. It really says a lot about them.

New York City was the center of most of the activity of the book. You spend some time on the San Francisco scene, very little on Central Ave., Los Angeles in general and nothing about activity around Big Sur-all places with a lot of drug use and alternative cultural activity. I was interested in why you didn't write more about that.

What I did in the book to a large degree was simply follow the marijuana. It arrived in New Orleans around 1910, just as jazz was coalescing, so it was a part of the story of jazz from the very beginning. It came up river to Chicago after the closing of Storyville in 1917; over the NY along with Pops and Mezz Mezzrow and also filters down to KC and the clubs during the 30s, and takes flight with swing. I mostly write about what happened in NY because of the culture of vipers at the Savoy and what happened when the early Beats intersected with the jazz scene, and then pick up the story of heroin. Of course this was happening elsewhere as well, as you point out in the case of LA and Central Ave (where Dexter Gordon hailed from). The drug scene in LA was quite robust, which produced Synanon, one of the first recovery communities. 

Homosexuality was addressed, and to some degree at least, validated among the Beats, although much paranoia justifiably still inhered. Among jazz musicians, it seems to have been much more on the down low. At least that is the "common wisdom" and the way Bop Apocalypse basically handles it, which is not to bring it up in the jazz context at all. What's your feeling about this-was the incidence of homosexuality so low it was not worth addressing, or was the taboo about talking about it just more intense? Also, since influence seemed to flow from the jazz world to the Beats and not at all the other way, might there in fact have been some lessening of the taboo because of the Beat influence?

Very interesting question. Beyond the homosexuality of the great Billy Strayhorn and the bisexuality of Billie Holiday, I confess that, like so many others, I know precious little about this in the jazz world of that time. It was such a taboo subject everywhere--so transgressive-- but especially in the black culture of the era. It must have been there, but forever hidden and now buried...Given that atmosphere, it's really quit astounding how open both Ginsberg and Burroughs were about the subject, but that appears to have had little or no impact on attitudes about it in the jazz scene. 

Two of the competing myths in America are: Rugged Individual-Wild West versus the Shining City on a Hill. The first says we should be free to pursue our own lives with little or no government interference. The second says we are members of a body politic, complying with an implied morality associated with the Puritan/Yankee tradition. In the history of drug use and enforcement we see the latter myth clearly dominating. Why do you think that was so?

I believe the prevalent reason was race. The whole regime of drug prohibitionism and the first drug laws were really about containing the "Other", whether ethnic immigrants, African Americans, or Mexicans, bohemians, sexual and cultural libertarians, etc. Fear of race-mixing was behind all of the early drug laws. It's stunning how the story of drugs so perfectly affirms the thesis of historian Richard Hofstadter in his classic essay The Paranoid Trend in American Politics. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Coaxing Spring

Why not take credit?  This show was meant to bring Spring out of its hibernation and the day after the broadcast, the weather took a decided turn for the better. Must be living right; or maybe it was the music.


Sarah Vaughan "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year" 1953 on Columbia

Charlie Parker "April In Paris" from "Bird With Strings" 1950 on Verve

Blossom Dearie "They Say It s Spring" from "Jazz Masters 51"1956 on Verve

The Dave Pell Octet "Spring Is Here" from "Plays Rogers and Hart" 1954 on Pacific Jazz

Ella Fitzgerald "Spring is Here" from "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook, Vol. 2" 1956 on Verve

Clifford Brown & Max Roach "Joy Spring" from "Clifford Brown & Max Roach" 1954 on Emarcy

Tony Bennett and Bill Evans "You Must Believe In Spring" from "Together Again" 1976 on Columbia

Dave Brubeck "Spring In Central Park" from "Jazz Impressions of New York" 1964 on Columbia

Chick Webb & Ella Fitzgerald "I Got The Spring Fever Blues" 1936 on Decca

Bob Dorough "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" from "RIght on My Way Home" 1997 on Blue Note

Freddie Hubbard "Up Jumped Spring" from "Backlash" 1966 on Atlantic

The Four Freshmen "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" from "The Freshman Year" 1961 on Capital

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Katz and Gennari On the DuPlex

The 3.30.17 edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz hour had two segments. In the first, I played music by the group OddSong and spoke with its leader and composer Darrell Katz. In the second, I spoke with John Gennari, author of Flavor and Soul; Italian America at its African Edge.



 Daryll Katz and OddSong "Prayer" from "Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Sock" (Jazz, 2016) on JCA Records
Daryll Katz and OddSong "Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Sock" f

 Daryll Katz and OddSong "Tell Time" from "Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Sock" 

 Daryll Katz and OddSong "Lemmings" from "Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Sock" 

 Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang "Stringing the Blues" from "Stringing the Blues" (1926) on Columbia

 Louis Prima "House Rent Party Day" from "House Rent Party Day" (1934) on Brunswick

 Louis Prima & Keely Smith "Oh Babe!" from "Oh Babe!" (1950) on Robin Hood

 Lenny Tristano "Lullaby of the Leaves" from "YouTube" (1965)

 Cab Calloway "Everybody Eats when They Come To My House" ( 1947) on Columbia

 Dean Martin "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" from "This Time I'm Swingin'!" (1960) on Capital

 The Rat pack "Birth of the blues live" from "YouTube" (1965)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The People's Ensemble on the Duplex

Guests on the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 3.23.17 were two members of the People's Ensemble, founder-composer-keyboard player Greyson Davison and spoken word performer Gus Johnson. We played some of their tunes and jammed a few things live in the studio.

Atonal Boogie (live)

The People's Ensemble “Ontology” Music For A Better Tomorrow (private 2017)

Armastice (live)

The People's Ensemble “For Tomorrow” Music For A Better Tomorrow (private 2017)

Pharoah Sanders and Leon Thomas, "The Creator Has a Master Plan," (Impulse,  1969)

The People's Ensemble “Hermeneutics in Blue” Music For A Better Tomorrow (private 2017)

The People's Ensemble “Boston (In Three Movements)” Music For A Better Tomorrow (private 2017)

United Future Organization feat.Jack Kerouac "Poetry and All That Jazz" (1991)

The People's Ensemble “In the Sun" Music For A Better Tomorrow (private 2017)

Atonal Boogie #2

Friday, March 17, 2017

Jazz Soundtracks, II

Here's another DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour about sound tracks, recorded on 3.16.17. So, close your eyes and let the cinematic images float through your mind.

PLAYLIST (Theme music from the film, unless otherwise noted)

Elmer Bernstein, "The Man With The Golden Arm"  1955 on Spectrum
Elmer Bernstein/Chico Hamilton‬ "Sweet Smell Of Success" 1957 on Decca
Henry Mancini‬ "‪Touch Of Evil ‬" 1958 on Sarabande
Lalo Schifrin‬ "Bullitt" 1968 on Warner Bros

Ella Fitzgerald "Pete Kelly's Blues"  (Jazz, 1955) on Decca

Eddie Sauter "Mickey One" (Jazz, 1965) on Polygram

Martial Solal "A bout de souffle" (Breathless) 1959 on Classic Soundtrack Collector

Gato Barbieri "Last Tango in Paris" 1972 on United Artists

Ennio Morricone "‪The Cat O' Nine Tails‬" 1971 on Colonna Sonora

Miles Davis "Ascenseur pour l'échafaud" 1961 on Fontana
Quincy Jones "Hanging Paper‬" from "In Cold Blood" 1968 on Colgems

Duke Ellington "Happy Anatomy" from "Anatomy Of A Murder" 1959 on Columbia

Sonny Rollins "Alfie's Theme"1966 on Impulse

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review of "Bop Apocalypse," by Martin Torgoff

The vilification and suppression of marijuana and narcotics in the U.S. was fueled in the 20th century by a campaign that whipped up fear of "the other"- Mexicans, Caribbean islanders, South Americans and African-Americans.  Bop Apocalypse limns the history of this campaign and uses it to frame the story of how our own American "others"- (black and white) jazz musicians and the (white) Beat movement-interacted with each other and with law enforcement.

Most of the key cast of musical characters in Bop Apocalypse will be familiar-Louis Armstrong, Mezz Mezzrow, Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. So too, will the cast of Beats-Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy and William Burroughs. Others playing smaller parts are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jackie Maclean and writers Antonin Artaud, John Clellan Holmes, Michael McClure, Herbert Huncke and a few others.

As chief antagonist, we have Harry Anslinger, for 30 years the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Anslinger was a master propagandist, willing to manufacture evidence in order to convince the public and Congress that, well, we know the litany: gateway drug, leads to violent crimes, corrupts youth. All the "facts" about marijuana that have dominated public opinion until recently were shaped by Anslinger. And yes, in some quarters, they continue to dominate.

For most readers, the story of the interaction between Anslinger, Congress, the law and the perps will be new. Details of Lester and Billie's stories will make for interesting reading, while the stories of Armstrong, Mezzrow and Bird as told here may serve to fill in parts of stories we already knew.

A few other aspects of the book stand out. First of all, I'm used to thinking of the Beats-Kerouac, Ginsburg, et al, as planets in eccentric orbits, interacting intensively but haphazardly. Torgoff shows there was a discernible flow of ideas and influences that bound the group together and shaped white beat/bohemianism in mid-century America. He shows there were clear literary and cultural through-lines: Club Des Hashichins, Gautier, Hugo, Balzac, Spengler, Rimbaud, Blake and that smoking pot, although useful sexually, was part of a shared ethic of drug use as spiritual exploration.

The author describes interplay between the Beats and jazz musicians that gives a sense of their relationship; for example, Lester Young turning Kerouac on to pot. Influence between these two groups seemed to flow pretty much in one direction-from jazz to beats.  One infers that jazz culture was not particularly interested in "new literature," although eventually collaborations arose between poetry and jazz.

The difference between the white and black experiences of being "outsiders" is noted. Historically, as I said, the campaign against drugs was a campaign against outsiders and jazz musicians were some of the first and most overt outsiders. The jazz world was a backdrop for the intermingling of races and the cultural center of pushback against the Yankee and Puritan ethics. The beats, too, were easy to peg as cultural outsiders, but they didn't have the added layer of racism to contend with.

Torgoff engages the question of whether Kerouac's romanticizing of jazz was another example of white de-dimentionalizing of the black experience. He seems to take it as it comes-a marker of Kerouac's genuine affection and empathy for the black jazz world. I've always had my doubts, in fact saw a cartoon-ish quality to some of Kerouac's writing on jazz and this book didn't change my mind, but Torgoff's presentation gives the reader a fair view of competing perspectives.

Torgoff tries to come to terms with why such a large number of jazz musicians became heroin addicts in the 40's and 50's, Of course, there was Charlie Parker's out-sized influence and Torgoff explores this and some other ideas. Ultimately, though, his approach is to tell a number of individual stories of addiction; to personalize it rather than trying to over-theorize about it. Even though part of me wishes to find more closure on this vexing question, I think Torgoff's approach is viable and useful.

Are there things in Bop Apocalyse that I don't like? Yes. The long exploration of Burroughs' life is fairly interesting, but I see it as an extensive footnote or an Appendix, not something that should be in the body of the book. So too, the story of the junkie-prostitute Ruby, who had crossed paths with Billie and Bird at a shooting gallery. I don't think there's enough there to spend as much time on the story as Torgoff does and see it as another Appendix. Speaking of structural aspects-the Notes and Bibliography are extensive, but the lack of an Index for a book of this scope and size is disappointing.

Don't get me wrong. I think Torgoff does many things right and those who've read about this subject in a scattershot way will find in this well-written book a coherent exegesis of several important 20th century cultural currents. There is a great deal to ponder in Bop Apocalypse and what I read here will usefully inform my thoughts about how we are now dealing, or not dealing, with drugs, literature and jazz.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Take a Leap of Faith

Pek and Yuri guested on the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour on WZBC on 3.9.17. Pek is the evil genius behind the Evil Clown musical empire, which includes a number of smaller groups and the Leap Of Faith Orchestra. The boys were kind enough to play in the studio and to let me join in the fray.


Live performance in studio

Necromancer's Binary Dance 1, Turbulence Doom Choir, Netherworld, Evil Clown Records.

Necromancer's Binary Dance 2, Turbulence Doom Choir, Netherworld, Evil Clown Records.

Necromancer's Binary Dance 4, Turbulence Doom Choir, Netherworld,, Evil Clown Records.

Leap Of Faith Orchestra, Supernova, Evil Clown Records.

Live performance in studio

Monday, March 6, 2017

Charlie Kohlhase Speaks

Actually, Charlie's a very good talker, as radio listeners know from his 20 year stint hosting "Research and Development on sister station WMBR. He also knows a few tricks vis a vis the saxophone, arranging, composing and bandleading.  Charlie fell by the DuPlex on 3.2.17 to brief us on his music and to submit to a few Blindford Test questions.
Chariie and John Carlson in conference

Jelly Roll Morton “Hesitation Blues” (1938)

Harry “Sweets” Edison & Buddy Rich “You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me” from Buddy and Sweets (Verve 1955)

Jack Teagarden's Big Eight “Big Eight Blues” Single (Hot Record Society Originals 1940)

Charlioe Kohlhas Quintet “Deep Purple” from Dart Night (Accurate 1996)

Charlie Kohlhase Quintet “Buhaina Checked Out” from Good Deeds (Accurate 1992)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Music and Talk with Lorraine Feather

My guest on the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 2.23.17 was Lorraine Feather, a multiple Grammy and Emmy-nominated lyricist and vocalist. Lorraine grew up in a jazz hothouse-daughter of Leonard Feather and god-daughter of Billie Holiday-but traveled her own road to become the creator of a diverse, impressive body of work.


From AGES, Jazzed Media, 2010
A Lot to Remember
I Forgot to Have Children

From ATTACHMENTS, Jazzed Media, 2013
I Hope I Never Leave This Place (ballad)
I Thought You Did

From FOURTEEN-Nouveau Stride, w. Stephanie Trick, Jazzed Media, 2012
Pour on the Heat

Flirting with Disaster
Feels Like Snow
Disastrous Consequences

Monday, February 20, 2017

Phil Sims Live on the DuPlex

Phil Sims was my guest on the 2.16.17 DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG, 90.3 FM. Phil is a fabulous trombonist, composer and arranger active on the very happening Buffalo jazz scene. He had some great stories about life on the road with the Dorsey Band and writing for and conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic  He played live and I joined him on Au Privave.



Tommy Dorsey- "Well Git It" V Disc, 1943

JJ Johnson‬ "Time After Time"  1954 on Blue Note;

PHIL PLAYS LIVE: "Pennies From Heaven"

Carl Fontana "This is Always" from "The Great Fontana" 1987 on Uptown

Lawrence Brown w. Duke Ellington, "Blue Cellophane" 1945, on Circle


Buffalo Brass "Song For Alexa" from ""It's Time"" 1988 on Mark Records

Bill Watrous and Manhattan Wildlife Refuge, "Spain" 1974 on Columbia

Buffalo Brass "Take The A Train" from "It's Time" 1988 on Mark Records

Buffalo Brass "I Got It Bad" from "It's Time" 1988 on Mark Records

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Music and Talk w. Kordalewski and Naidoo

On 2/2/17, the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG, welcomed guests pianist/bandleader/arranger John Kordalewski and Kesivan Naidoo, drummer from South Africa. Kordalewski is the founder of the Makanda Project, which performs world premieres of music by Makanda Ken McIntyre. Naidoo was a first-call drummer in South Africa, now making it happen in the U.S. Both have interesting stories to tell-including how Ken McIntyre became Makanda Ken McIntyre-and brought great music to play.


The Gorgeous Ones, The Makanda Project. Private Recording
Mellifluous, Stone Blues. Prestige Records
Tafattala, from "Skyjack' Werkstatt Records
Struttin', The Makanda Project. Private Recording

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Boston and Beyond

The DuPlex on 1/19/17 welcomed back Boston jazz historian Dick Vacca.  For this "Boston and Beyond" show,  Dick brought in material that illustrated the early work of a number of Boston artists and how that work evolved (BTW, Dick's blog has an interesting salute to Nat Hentoff). Check out the playlist, then:

Makanda Ken McIntyre “Smax” Stone Blues (Prestige New Jazz 1960)

Hal Galper “Blues Theme” Single (Private recording 1962)

Hal Galper “Villainesque” Windows (Steeplechase 1975)

Bill Berry “Till You” Shortcake (Concord Jazz 1978)

Bill Berry “That Old Devil Moon” Jazz & Swinging Percussion (Directional Sound 1961)

Toshiko Akiyoshi, Charlie Mariano “The Village” Single (youtube 2007)

Toshiko Akiyoshi, Charlie Mariano “I’m a Fool to Want You” Deep in a Dream (Enja 2001)

Carol Sloane “In a Sentimental Mood" Live at 30th Street (Columbia 1962)

Carol Sloane “Deep Purple" I Never Went Away (High Note 2001)

James Williams “My One and Only Love” Everything I Love (Concord Jazz 1979)

George Wein “Exactly Like You” Single (youtube 1985)

Joe Gordon “A Song for Richard” Lookin’ Good! (‪Contemporary‬ 1961)

Teddi King “Oh, You Crazy Moon” Nat Pierce Orchestra 1948-1950 (Zim Records 1950)

Teddi King “How Long Has This Been Going On” This Is New: Teddi King Sings Ira Gershwin (Inner city 1978)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Eulogy For My Mother

My mother, Marcia Provizer, died on December 24, at the age of 93. We are very grateful that her end came quickly. 

Taking a time out from the usual musical motifs, I am posting my eulogy to her, delivered on Tuesday, December 27, at the Levine Chapels in Brookline.
With the death of a beloved parent like Marcia, all the ambivalences we have of how the universe operates rise to the surface. We think: Is this really how it works: One day you rise up and the next, you're struck down. What game is this, in which no matter what role you play-king, queen, bishop- you are, in the end, just a pawn.

And yet, some people-and Marcia was one-some people have the natural gift of playing the game un-self-consciously, selflessly yet passionately.  This, despite being a woman who was forced to mourn so many early deaths: her dear husband in his 40's, her parents in their 50's. Her close friends Evelyn and Bill and others, well before their time.

Despite these losses, this was a woman who continued to have the capacity to experience joy; to laugh and to celebrate life. Why?  How could this be? It was because she had the capacity to GENERATE joy. To generate laughter, to lift up people from their sorrows and show them they were worth loving.

She was musical and a talented writer, but with people, she was a genius.

As Marlene said, we joked that no one could "work a room" like her, but when she worked a room, it was not to bring attention to herself, but to bring other people into the energy of the party; to let them know they were seen and cared for.

How many life stories was she able to evoke from people within the first 10 minutes after she met them? How much loyalty and love did she engender from the hundreds of seniors that she took on trips, standing at the front of the bus for hours, telling jokes and making the passage of time a pleasure for Her people? How was she able to make me feel right and justified in pursuing my own passions despite how harebrained they really were?

And now she is gone. She had been leaving for some time. And, as so many others have, I went through the hard process of becoming more the parent as she became more the child. Yet, despite the falls and hospitalizations, the increasing lack of mobility and what must have been some very disorienting delusions, she still retained that magical capacity to emanate joy.

In the last couple of months, in her final home at NewBridge, she grew much more quiet. She ate little and was not the voluble person she once was. But when I went there the day she died, everyone hugged me and told me what a sweet and lovely woman she was. They had all experienced the magic of her gift despite how diminished she was. And I said, boy you should have seen her in her prime.

She lived a long life and her longevity is a consolation to us, but there is a hole in our hearts that can't be filled.

What comforts me now and I hope it does you is this: Although we now say goodbye to the physical presence of Marcia Yoffee Provizer, we will never say goodbye to her spirit.


Friday, December 23, 2016


This blog has had over 500,000 hits since its inception. Brilliant Corners was started by Chris Rich, who first posted on 7.18.09. I took over on 3.28.10. I'd like to thank everyone who visits the page-even the Russian hackers, who seem to have boosted the number lately. I welcome all feedback, suggestions, brickbats and kudos.

Holiday Head-Spinner

Have a jazz/R&B/funk/soul/gospel trip through the holidays on the 
Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG, 12.22.2016.

Paul Bley "Santa Clause Is Comin' to Town" (1953), on Debut

Dave McKenna "Jingle Bells" from "Christmas Party-Holiday Piano Spiked With Swing" (1997), on Concord

Ray Charles "Winter Wonderland" from "Spirit of Christmas" (1956) on MGM

Charlie Parker "White Christmas" from "Live at Royal Roost" (1948) on Savoy

Charles Brown "Christmas in Heaven" from "Christmas in Heaven" (1965) on Jewel Records

Eyal Vilner Big Band "Sevivon" from "Hanukkah - EP" (2016) on Eyal Vilner Big Band

Joe Pass "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" from "Joe Pass - Six String Santa" (1992) on LaserLight Digital ‎

Louis Armstrong "Twas the Night before Christmas" (1971) on Continental

Amos Milburn "Let's Make Christmas Merry, Baby"(1948) on Aladdin

Frank Sinatra "Let It Snow" from "Christmas Songs" (1948), on Columbia

Joseph Spence "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" from "Living On The Hallelujah Side" (1980) on Rounder

The Soul Saints Orchestra "Santa's Got A Bag Of Soul" (1994) on Hot Pie and Candy records

Charles Brown "Merry Christmas Baby" from "Cool Christmas Blues" (1984), on Bullseye Blues

Fats Domino "Jingle Bells" from "Christmas is a Special Day" (2006), on Cap

Otis Redding "White Christmas" (1967) on Atco

The Blind Boys Of Alabama "Last Month Of The Year" from "Go Tell it on the Mountain" (2008), on Real World

Clarence Carter "Back Door Santa"  (1968) on Atlantic

Vince Guaraldi "Christmas Time Is Here" from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) on Fantasy

Funk Machine "Soul Santa" (1973) on Creative Funk

Ella Fitzgerald "The Christmas Song" from "A Swinging Christmas" (1960) on Verve

John Coltrane Quartet "Greensleeves" from "Africa Brass" (1961) on Impulse

Chet Baker "Joy To The World" from "A Christmas Jazz Album" (1997) on Dinemec Jazz

Duke Pearson "Wassail Song" from "Merry Old Soul" (1965) on Blue Note

Wynton Marsalis "We Three Kings" from "Crescent City Christmas Card" (1989) on Columbia  

Louis Armstrong "Cool Yule" from "Louis Armstrong With The Commanders" (1953), on Decca

Fats Waller "Swingin' Them Jingle Bells" (1936) on Victor

Dianne Reeves "Christmas Waltz" from "Christmas Time is Here" (2004) on Blue Note

Ray Charles "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (2009), on Concord

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jazz Oddities: A Maven's Quiz; Answers Revealed

1) Who recorded with both Ma Rainey and Pearl Bailey?
Hot Lips Page

2) Who recorded with both Johnny Dunn in 1922 and Coltrane in '61?
Garvin Bushell

3) Who recorded with both the '27 Goldkette band and '47 Thornhill?
Danny Polo

4) Who played with both James Reese Europe and Dizzy?
Russell Smith
5) Who recorded with both Bix and Monk?
Pee Wee Russell
6) Who played with both Kid Rena and Sir Charles Thompson?
Danny Barker
7) Who recorded with Henry Busse, Louis Jordan and Louis Armstrong?
Bing Crosby
8) What sax player played with both Miles Davis & Blood, Sweat and Tears?
Joe Henderson
9) Who played himself in the movies Screaming Mimi and Ocean's 11?
Red Norvo
10) Who Played with both the Symphony Orchestra of Los Angeles and Joe Venuti?
Arthur Schutt

11) Who recorded with WIlbur Sweatman and Charles Mingus?

12) Who played with Keppard in the Original Creole Orch and recorded with Bird & Martial Solal? Bechet

13) Who played with Lu Waters & Capt. Beefheart?
 Del Simmons

Fred Katz: Jazz Cellist, Composer, Arranger

The DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 12.15.16 on WZBC.ORG featured Fred Katz (1919–2013), who may have been the most accomplished cellist jazz has seen. After studying under Pablo Casals and performing with several symphony orchestras, Katz made the move to jazz, performing with drummer Chico Hamilton and leading many groups himself. Katz also did film scores, including a bunch for Roger Corman-A Bucket of Blood and The Wasp Woman.

His solos and his compositions are an interesting hybrid of "inside" jazz, classical techniques and harmonic experimentation.

Check the program out HERE


Feelin the Blues, from "Fred katz and His Jammers" Fred Katz (cel) / Don Fagerquist (tp) // Gene Estes (vb) / Leroy Vinnegar (b) /  Lenny McBrowne (d) / Johnny Pisano (gtr), (1959) on Decca

"Elegy" from "Fred katz and His Jammers"-Fred Katz (cel) / Don Fagerquist (tp) /Gene Estes (vb) / Leroy Vinnegar (b) / Frank Butler (d) / / Johnny Pisano (gtr), (1959) on Decca

Chico Hamilton quintet "Jonalah" from "Sweet Smell of Success" reedist/flutist Paul Horn, bassist Carson Smith, cellist Fred Katz, guitarist John Pisano‬ ‪(1957) on Decca‬

"I Remember Clifford" from "Carmen McCrae For Cool Ones" ,Fred Katz - arranger, conductor, cello, Buddy Collette - flute, alto saxophone, (1958) on Decca

"Old Paint" from "Folk Songs for Far Out Folk" Gene Estes, vibes - Billy Bean, guitar - Johnny T. Williams, piano - Mel Pollen, bass - Jerry Williams, drums, (1958) on Warner Brothers

"Pluck It" from "Zen"-Fred Katz, cello - Chico Hamilton, drums & tympani - Paul Horn, alto flute & clarinet - John Pisano, guitar - Carson Smith, bass, (Jazz, 1957) on Pacific Jazz

"Science Fiction," 45 rpm record- Fred Katz Quintet With Ensemble, Paul Horn (flute, clarinet, alto sax, piccolo) Fred Katz (cello) John Pisano (guitar) Carson Smith (bass) Chico Hamilton (drums) (1955) on Pacific Jazz

"Take the A Train/Perdito" Chico Hamilton Quintet from "Ellington Suite" Alto Saxophone, Flute – Paul Horn, Bass – Carson Smith Cello – Fred Katz Drums – Chico Hamilton Guitar – Jim Hall, Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Buddy Collette, (1958) on World Pacific

"Stella By Starlight" from "Fred Katz Trio at the Strollers" Fred Katz (cello), Jim Hall (guitar), Carson Smith (bass), (1955) on World Pacific

"Junk Man" Ken Nordine and the Fred Katz Group from "Son of Word Jazz" Bass – Harold Gaylor, Cello – Fred Katz, Drums – Red Holt, Guitar – John Pisano, Narrator,– Ken Nordine, (1958) on Dot

"4-5-6" from "4-5-6 Trio" Fred Katz Trio Fred Katz (cello) Johnny Pisano (guitar) Hal Gaylor (bass), (Jazz, 1958) on Decca

"Wax and Wane" from "The Rubaiyat Of Dorothy Ashby"-Dorothy Ashby - harp, koto, vocals, Stu Katz - vibraphone, Fred Katz - kalimba, Unidentified Orch.(1970) on Cadet

"Tea For Two" from "The Original Chico Hamilton Quintet at the Strollers"-Buddy Collette (clarinet), Fred Katz (cello), Jim Hall (guitar), Carson Smith (bass), Chico Hamilton (drums), (1955) on World Pacific

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lee Morgan Ballads

Trumpeter Lee Morgan was a bravura player on up-tempo tunes, but also a master at medium-slow and ballad tempi. The DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 12.8.16 on WZBC presented a small sample of this beautiful work.


Lee Morgan "You Go To My Head" from "The Gigolo" 1966 Blue Note, Lee Morgan (tp), Wayne Shorter (ts), Harold Mabern, Jr (p), Bob Cranshaw (b), Billy Higgins (d)

Lee Morgan "All the Way" from "All the Way" 1958 Sunset-Lee Morgan (tp) Sonny Clark (p) Doug Watkins (b) Art Taylor (d)

Lee Morgan "I'll Never Be The Same" from "Sonic Boom" (Jazz, 1967) on Blue Note-Lee Morgan-t; David "Fathead" Newman, George Coleman (tenors); Julian Prester (tr); Cedar Walton, Harold Mabern (piano); Ron Carter, Walter Booker (bass); Billy Higgins, Mickey Roker (drums).

Lee Morgan "Flamingo" from "The Sermon!" (Jazz, 1958) on Blue Note-Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith (org), Kenny Burrell(g), Art Blakey(d)

Lee Morgan "I Remember Clifford" from "Lee Morgan" 1957) on Blue Note-Lee Morgan,Benny Golson-ten,Gigi Gryce-alto, flute, Wynton Kelly-p, Paul Chambers-bass Charlie Persip - drums

Lee Morgan "Ceora" from "Cornbread" (Jazz, 1965) on Blue Note-Herbie Hancock(p), Billy Higgins(d),  Jackie McLean(as), Hank Mobley(ts) and Larry Ridley-bass

Lee Morgan "I Remember Clifford", from "Lee Morgan Vol. 3," 1957-Lee Morgan,Benny Golson-ten, Gigi Gryce-alto, flute, Wynton Kelly-p, Paul Chambers-bass Charlie Persip - drums

Lee Morgan "I'm Old Fashioned" from "Blue Train" (Jazz, 1958) on Blue Note-John Coltrane(ts) Lee Morgan(tp) Curtis Fuller(tb) Kenny Drew(p) Paul Chambers(b) Philly Joe Jones(ds)

Lee Morgan, "Twilight Mist"-from "Tom Cat" Blue Note, 1964, Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw – bass, Art Blakey – drums

Friday, December 2, 2016

Browsing the 1927 Victor Catalogue

On the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 12.1.16 I played a variety of music offered by the Victor record company in 1927-jazz, jug band, blues, country, tango.

All tunes are from 1927, recorded for Victor.

‪Duke Ellington - "East St Louis Toodle-oo"
‪Dixieland Jug Blowers - "Don't Give all the Lard Away!"
Benny Moten's Kansas City Orchestra - "Moten Stomp"
‪Orquesta Tipica Victor - "Tandas" 
‪Julius Daniels - "Ninety-Nine Year Blues"
‪Ben Pollack & His Orch. - "Waitin' For Katie"‬
‪Bobbie Leecan's Need-More Band "Washboard Cut Out"
‪Jelly Roll Morton Trio w.  Johnny Dodds & Baby Dodds‬-"Wolverine Blues"
‪Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra feat. Bix Beiderbecke - "Slow River"
‪Coon-Sanders Nighthawks - "Sluefoot"
‪Elizabeth Smith  w. Rex Stewart-cornet‬ "Police done tore my Playhouse Down"
‪Ross de Luxe Syncopaters- "Believe Me, Dear"
‪Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers "Blue Guitar Stomp"
‪Fats Waller & Alberta Hunter "Beale Street Blues"
Jimmie Rodgers - "Blue Yodel"
Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight ‬-"Red Onion Drag"
‪Fletcher Henderson "Variety Stomp"

Thursday, October 6, 2016

10 Ballads (Almost) No One Sings

Most of the best ballads are covered endlessly, but somehow, a few beauties have managed to slip the noose and have not been ground into dust by endless repetition.

I realize a post like this is like a person giving away a person's favorite secret swimming hole, but I know my elite and discreet readership can keep a secret.

I have ordered them from what I think are the most to the least recorded.

The song itself is sandwiched in between very non-ballad sounds and starts about 4:00 in

Friday, July 15, 2016

Jukebox Jazz

Jazz tunes that I think were made for the jukebox, on the Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour, 7/14/2016, 5-7 PM. i give you a little bit of jukebox history (you'll be surprised to learn when the first coin-operated music player was invented) and then it's off to the juke joint.


 James Moody "I'm In the Mood For Love" from "I'm In the Mood For Love" 1949 on Prestige
 Count Basie "One Oclock Jump" 1937 on Decca
 Count Basie & His Orchestra "April In Paris" 1955 on Clef
 Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra "Song Of India"1937 on Victor
 Charles Mingus "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" 1959 on Atlantic
 Sarah Vaughn w. Clifford Brown "Lullaby of Birdland" 1954 on Emarcy
 The Jazztet "Killer Joe" 1960) on Argo
 Nat King Cole "Route 66" from "Soundie"
 Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five "What's the Use of Getting Sober" 1942 on Decca
 Gene Ammons Quartet "Hittin' the Jug" 1960 on Prestige
 John Coltrane "My Favorite Things"1960 on Atlantic
 Duke Ellington & His Orchestra "in a Mellow Tone"1940 on Victor
 Eddie Harris "Exodus" 1961 on Vee Jay
 Glenn Miller & His Orchestra "Elmer's Tune" 1939 on Bluebird
 Herbie Mann "Comin' Home Baby"1962 on Atlantic
 Bobby Timmons "Dis Heah (This Here)" 1960 on Riverside
 Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd "Desafinado" 1962 on Verve
 Ray Charles "One Mint Julep" 1961 on Impulse
 Jimmy Smith "Walk on the Wild Side" 1962 on Verve
 Lionel Hampton "Red Top" 1959 on Audio Fidelity
 Mongo Santamaria "Watermelon Man"1963 on Battie
 Lee Morgan "Sidewinder"1963 on Blue Note
 Ramsay Lewis Trio "The In Crowd" 1965 on ARGO
 Harry James "Ciribiribin" 1939 on Brunswick
 Cannonball Adderley "Mercy Mercy Mercy" 1966 on Capital
 Toots Thielemans "Bluesette" 1962 on ABC Paramount
 Ray Charles "What'd I Say" 1961 on ABC Paramount

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mingus on Radio-1946 to 1954

Mingus-Part I, Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG. Program aired on 6.30.2016.



Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, Mingus Fingus-Teddy Buckner, Wendell Culley, Duke Garrette, Leo Shepherd, Snooky Young (trumpet) Andrew Penn, James Robinson, Britt Woodman, Jimmy Wormick (trombone) Jackie Kelso (clarinet, alto sax) Ben Kynard, Bobby Plater (alto sax) Morris Lane, John Sparrow (tenor sax) Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax) Lionel Hampton (vibes) Milt Buckner (piano) Billy Mackel (guitar) Joe Comfort, Charles Mingus (bass) Earl Walker (drums). Hollywood, CA, November 10, 1947

Boppin in Boston Baron Mingus And His Rhythm; probably Vern Carlson (trumpet) probably Britt Woodman (trombone) unknown (tenor sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, vocals) unknown (drums)  possibly Wilbert Baranco (vocals -2)

Illinois Jacquet And His All Stars-Bottom's Up Russell Jacquet (trumpet) John Brown (alto sax) Illinois Jacquet (tenor sax) Arthur Dennis (baritone sax) Bill Doggett (piano) Ulysses Livingston (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Al Wichard (drums) Hollywood, CA, circa mid August, 1945

Wilbert Baranco And His Rhythm Bombardiers-Weepin Willie; Karl George, Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee, Snooky Young (trumpet) Ralph Bledsoe, Henry Coker, Vic Dickenson, George Washington (trombone) Marvin Johnson, Willie Smith (alto sax) Freddie Simon, Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Gene Porter (baritone sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano, vocals) Buddy Harper (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Earl Watkins (drums), 1946

Ivie Anderson & her all stars - The Voot is Here to Stay-Karl George (trumpet) Willie Smith (alto sax) Gene Porter (tenor sax) Buddy Collette (baritone sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano, arranger) Buddy Harper (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Booker Hart (drums) Ivie Anderson (vocals)
Los Angeles, CA, January, 1946

Charles Mingus And His Orchestra-Shuffle Bass Boogie; Karl George, John Plonsky (trumpet) Henry Coker (trombone) Jewel Grant, Willie Smith (alto sax) Gene Porter, Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano) Buddy Harper (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Lee Young (drums) Claude Trenier (vocals -1,2,4)Los Angeles, CA, early 1946

Baron Mingus Presents His Symphonic Airs-Story of Love; Vern Carlson, Miles Davis (trumpet) Henry Coker (trombone) Boots Mussulli (alto sax) Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Buddy Collette (tenor sax, flute) Herb Carol (baritone sax) Buzz Wheeler (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, cello) Warren Thompson (drums), Hollywood, 1946

Pipe Dream (Weird Nightmare) Baron Mingus And His Octet; Karl George (trumpet) Henry Coker (trombone) Marshall Royal (clarinet, alto sax) Willie Smith (alto sax) Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Lady Will Carr (piano) Irving Ashby (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Lee Young (drums), 1946

Charles Mingus - Inspiration-John Anderson, Buddy Childers, Hobart Dotson, Eddie Preston (trumpet) Jimmy Knepper, Marty Smith, Britt Woodman (trombone) Eric Dolphy (alto sax, flute, clarinet) Jewel Grant, Art Pepper (alto sax, clarinet) Herb Caro (tenor sax, clarinet) William Green (tenor sax, clarinet, flute) Gene Porter (baritone sax, clarinet) Russ Freeman (piano) Red Callender, Charles Mingus (bass) Roy Porter (drums) Johnny Berger (percussion) and others
Hollywood, CA, 1949

Red Norvo Trio--Move, September Song, This Can't Be Love; Red Norvo (vibes) Tal Farlow (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Los Angeles, 1950

Miles Davis Sextet-Lady Bird; Miles Davis (trumpet) Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Big Nick Nicholas (tenor sax) Billy Taylor (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Art Blakey (drums), Live Birdland, 1951

Charles Mingus Nonet-Blue Tide; Ernie Royal (trumpet) Willie Dennis (trombone) Eddie Caine (alto sax, flute) Teo Macero (tenor sax, clarinet) Danny Bank (baritone sax) Jackson Wiley (cello) John Lewis (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, arranger) Kenny Clarke (drums) Janet Thurlow (vocals -3,6,7) Paul Bley (conductor) Spaulding Givens equal Nadi Qamar (arranger) NYC, October 28, 1953

The Gordons With Hank Jones Trio-Bebopper; Hank Jones (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Max Roach (drums) Honey Gordon (vocals -2/6) George Gordon Jr., George Gordon, Richard Gordon vocals NYC, 953

Billy Taylor Trio-Bass-Ically; Billy Taylor (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Art Taylor (drums) NYC, summer 1953

Miles Davis Quartet - Smooch; Miles Davis (trumpet) Charles Mingus (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Max Roach (drums) WOR Studios, NYC, May 19, 1953

Charlie Parker and His Orchestra - In the Still of the Night; Junior Collins (French horn) Al Block (flute) Tommy Mace (oboe) Manny Thaler (bassoon) Hal McKusick (clarinet) Charlie Parker (alto sax) Tony Aless (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Max Roach (drums) The Dave Lambert Singers: including Annie Ross (vocals) Dave Lambert (vocals, arranger) Gil Evans (arranger, conductor)
Fulton Recording, NYC, May 25, 1953

Dizzy Gillespie Quartet; Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet, vocals) Bud Powell (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Max Roach (drums) "Birdland", NYC???, circa late May, 1953

Charles Mingus Nonet-Pink Topsy; Ernie Royal (trumpet) Willie Dennis (trombone) Eddie Caine (alto sax, flute) Teo Macero (tenor sax, clarinet) Danny Bank (baritone sax) Jackson Wiley (cello) John Lewis (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, arranger) Kenny Clarke (drums) Janet Thurlow (vocals -3,6,7) Paul Bley (conductor) Spaulding Givens equal Nadi Qamar (arranger), NYC, 1953

Paul Bley Trio-Zootcase; Paul Bley (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Art Blakey (drums) NYC, 1953

Ada Moore-The Man I Love; John LaPorta (alto sax, clarinet) Wally Cirillo (piano) Tal Farlow (guitar) Oscar Pettiford (bass) Osie Johnson (drums) Ada Moore (vocals) Alonzo Levister, Charles Mingus (arranger) NYC, June 27, 1954

Thad Jones Quintet-Elusive; Thad Jones (trumpet) Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute)Hank Jones (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) Hackensack, NJ, 1954

J J Johnson & Kai Winding Quintet - Lament J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding (trombone) Billy Bauer (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) Hackensack, NJ, August 24, 1954

Charles Mingus Sextet-Purple Heart; John LaPorta (clarinet, alto sax) Teo Macero (tenor, baritone sax) George Barrow (baritone, tenor sax) Mal Waldron (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Rudy Nichols (drums) NYC, October 31, 1954

Charles Mingus Sextet-Minor Intrusion; Thad Jones (trumpet -1/4,7) John LaPorta (clarinet, alto sax) Teo Macero (tenor, baritone sax) Jackson Wiley (cello -1/4) Charles Mingus (bass, piano) Clem DeRosa (drums, tambourine) NYC, December, 1954

Hazel Scott w/Charles Mingus and Rudy Nichols. "A Foggy Day" on YouTube, unknown date

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How to Listen to Jazz; a Q&A

In How to Listen to Jazz, Ted Gioia has tasked himself with writing a book that asks people to drop their musical prejudices and open up their ears. The challenge in writing a book like is to find a middle path between, as Gioia says, "those who pretend that music is objective science and those who insist it is "subjective whimsy…" For my money, he has succeeded; talking about the nuts and bolts of melody, harmony and rhythm in a clear, comprehensible, knowing way, while finding myriad ways to communicate the joy ("jouissance") in the music.

Ted was kind enough to respond to some questions I sent him.

One of the foundations of the book is that there are standards that are inherent in the music. Talk about the process of teasing these out.
If you want to grasp the dangers of imposing external standards on the music, just look at the long, sad history of warring camps in the jazz world. In the 1940s, traditional jazz musicians complained about bop because it didn’t sound like Louis Armstrong.  And modernists dismissed traditionalists who didn’t know the bop licks. A few years later, a similar battle erupted over the merits of West Coast jazz versus East Coast jazz. This was followed by protracted controversies over free jazz, fusion, the new traditionalists of the 1980s, etc.—indeed almost every new style led to diatribes and confrontations, and a strange situation in which listeners were told they had to choose between the combatants.

Finally, the jazz wars seem to have ended. Okay, we have a few skirmishes on the border—I saw an exchange of fire a few days ago on the Kamasi Washington front—but this is all child’s play compared with the full-scale battles of days gone by. And I will be the first to celebrate the cessation of hostilities. Let’s enjoy the peace dividend.

But there’s a larger lesson at stake here. Different genres and subgenres bring with them their own standards, and make different demands on us. My enjoyment of the music—and my understanding of it—have been enhanced by trying to live up to these demands.  Our response to the music comes with a responsibility—two words that derive from the same etymological root. And part of that responsibility is to enter into the distinctive worldview and templates that come embedded into the music.

Why was it important for you to bring in your own experience in learning how to play this music?
This book is more autobiographical than anything I’ve ever written. I felt that the best way to teach readers how to listen to jazz is to share the path by which I learned to listen deeply to the music. Between the ages of 15 and 25, I spent around 10,000 hours at the piano, and many more hours studying the performances of the best musicians I could find, in person or on record. My subsequent work as a music critic and historian is built on this foundation.

What did I learn from that apprenticeship? Sad to say, I learned to appreciate the greatness of the masters through my own mistakes, and through all the slow, hard work I put into gaining fluency with the basic building blocks of the music. I struggled and fought my way through every aspect of jazz, from how to start and end a phrase to how to how to create rhythmic misdirection and float over the beat. I really didn’t possess a mature grasp of jazz until I was in my late twenties and, in retrospect, I’ve often wished I had been a more precocious learner, or had had access to skilled teachers. I really taught myself, and a day at a time. It’s no exaggeration to say that I had to invent my own pedagogy. But this slow path brought some advantages—I developed analytical and methodological tools that have proven invaluable in helping me conceptualize and articulate what’s going on in the music. I draw on these hard-won learnings in How to Listen to Jazz, and I feel that I have dealt with a number of key issues in a way that hasn’t been done in other books on the subject. 

Can you flesh out this quote a bit: "We can tell that we are encountering a real work of art by the degree to which it resists [your emphasis] our subjectivity."
Some people will tell you that our responses to music are purely subjective. But everything I’ve learned about music runs counter to that claim. My previous book on love songs describes in great specificity quasi-universal qualities in music that cut across cultural and individual differences. The same is true in my books on work songs and healing music. Music critics and historians ignore these factors at their own risk. They undermine their work to the extent that they believe they can impose their whims or ideologies on the music. 

In the course of reading jazz and blues history, I've never encountered your interesting points that statistics used to track diseases can also tell us about the spread of jazz and that looking at African-American farming plots can help trace the genesis of the blues. Why do you suppose more of this cross-discipline work hasn't been done-or have I simply missed it?
I learned these analytical techniques through sheer happenstance. In my early twenties I studied the diffusion of innovations at Stanford Business School. My professors had no intention of teaching me skills I could use in writing music history books, but I later saw how these predictive models could answer key questions in my research into early blues or traditional love songs.

By the way, my readers would probably be surprised by how much my analysis of music has been enhanced by studying microeconomics, game theory, statistics, business strategy and other issues outside the typical purview of music critics. This is true of both my writings on music history but also my writings and talks on the current music industry.

I love that you call those who deconstruct and recombine musical memes "the gene splicers of jazz." Why did you choose that metaphor rather than alluding to the idea of "influences"?
The notion of influence tends to promote linear and static thinking. But when we apply the metaphor of DNA and genetics to our discussions of musical evolution, we can grasp the dynamic and complex nature of these processes with more insight.

Take for example, saxophonist Lester Young. A static lineage model would tell you that he was a major influence on Stan Getz and a handful of other postwar saxophonists. End of story. But a better way of understanding his impact is to look at how his expansion of a ‘cool’ vocabulary, with its emphasis on melodicism and understatement, entered into the global music DNA—and could be adapted by anyone seeking a certain kind of aesthetic experience. Once you view Lester Young in that way, you start hearing how he shaped movie soundtracks, bossa nova, pop music, a cappella vocal arrangements, even classical works such as John Adams’ recent sax concerto. You understand Young better by viewing his innovations—which were essentially genetic mutations in the sphere of music—in this wider context.

You have a definite brief against "global entertainment corporations." Tell us why and what you think might be done to ameliorate their negative influence.
I listened to more than one thousand new releases last year, and I am on track to do the same this year. I cast a very wide net in my listening—I check out all music genres, and though I pay attention to highly-promoted commercial releases from the major labels, I also listen closely to little-known projects from small indie labels and self-produced albums.

This is a large investment of time, but it gives me valuable insights into the priorities of the global entertainment corporations. I can see what they are choosing to promote, and compare it against the projects they turn down or ignore.

And what do I learn from this? My conclusions are depressing ones. First let me share the good news: there is more outstanding music recorded today than at any point in history. But here’s the bad news: it’s harder to find than ever before. The big entertainment corporations are doing a terrible job of scouting talent, nurturing it, and giving it a platform to reach a large audience. There’s a crisis in the music business. And this isn’t just my personal opinion—just look at sales figures and financial statements, or talk to the talented musicians who are trying to build careers in this environment. 

Why are labels making such bad decisions? We can speculate on the causes. I would love to give an ear test to folks making decisions at the major labels. How skilled are they at actually hearing what’s happening on a recording, and grasping what the musicians are doing? And then I’d like to give them a polygraph test to see which is more important to them, promoting artistry or making money? And, then, I’d like to have a test to gauge their degree of commitment to musical values, and their courage in pushing against the groupthink and conformity of the huge corporations that employ them. Finally, I would like to compare these results against those of the visionary label execs from today and the past—people like John Hammond or Manfred Eicher or George Martin. I have a hunch we would find some answers to our questions, no?

Do you have a specific idea who the audience will be for this book?  Do you hope it will work its way into the educational market?
I’ve been blessed with great readers. I hear from them all the time—especially in the last few years, with the rise of social media and worldwide connectivity. And I learn from them too.

Many of my readers are musicians, some of them absolute masters of their instruments. Others played in bands in the past and have transitioned to other careers, yet still have big ears and trained sensibilities. Some have never had musical training, but care deeply about the music. This very smart audience keeps me honest. I have them in mind while I write, and that helps me avoid glib and facile treatment of the subjects at hand.

I try to write in such a way that every one of these readers is served by the book. My goal with How to Listen to Jazz was a simple one, but also challenging: I wanted to provide an entry point into jazz for newcomers, but do it in such a way that even a very knowledgeable fan would find something useful or insightful on every page. I’ll leave it to others to judge whether I live up to that goal.

This reader says he does.