• In honor of the First Lady of Jazz’s 100th birthday…

  • Space Age Greetings, President Trump:

    I am reaching outwards to you from outer space, the other side of nowhere.  (It is a place we both call home).    

    I come bringing harmony in the face of the planet’s doom, which I predicted long ago, when I lived on Earth.

     

     

  • When Billie Holiday and jazz greats appeared on CBS Televisionn…a moment indelibly etched in the minds of those who honor this great woman and those who accompanied her on this date.

  • But by making this song the focus, “people…overlooked what the hell the whole album said.  We didn’t just do one tune and let it stand, we did albums and ideas, and all of those ideas were significant to us at the time we were working on them.”

  • Ella is 100
  • A Letter to President Trump, from Sun Ra
  • A Moment in Time: Studio 58, New York, December 8, 1957
  • Beyond "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
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Baseball and Jazz

Tomorrow is opening day of the 2017 baseball season. The first day of major league baseball always provokes simultaneous thoughts of renewal and nostalgia – the return of sunshine (at last!) and an optimistic spirit is coupled with the thoughts of days gone by, when the likes of Mays and Mantle and Aaron roamed the outfield and Ellington and Armstrong and Miles set the rhythm of our culture.

Baseball and jazz are well connected, as theorized by trombonist Alan Ferber, who wrote that “baseball players and jazz musicians both strive for a perfect balance between disciplined practice and spontaneity.”  They also shared the spotlight in popular culture, when

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Features » A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time: Billie Holiday in Studio 58, New York, December 8, 1957

In Martin Torgoff’s brilliant new book Bop Apocalypse — an extensive exploration of the connections of jazz, literature and drugs, and how drugs impacted the lives and work of people like Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, Lester Young, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg — Torgoff devotes a chapter to Billie Holiday’s struggle with drug abuse, and the public airing of it when her 1956 autobiography Lady Sings the Blues was published.  

While her book had errors that have since caused critics and biographers to cast doubt on the book’s veracity, as Torgoff writes, in many respects, “the book is remarkably frank about her early years in Baltimore and her time as a prostitute.  It is also replete with information about her

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Features » Historic Journalism

“To Russia, Without Love”

You may have noticed that Russia is in the news a bit these days. (It is tough to avoid). So, while revisiting James Lincoln Collier’s 1989 biography Benny Goodman and the Swing Era, the story of Goodman’s 1962 U.S. State Department sponsored tour of the Soviet Union caught my eye.

Collier reminds us that Goodman and his group – the first American band to tour the Soviet Union since the 1920’s – was considered by many to be too “old fashioned” for the times and that “many critics felt that the Ellington band, playing a more complicated and perhaps more worthy kind of music” should have been chosen for the tour instead. Nonetheless, given Goodman’s popularity around the world, he was considered a

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