“Accent on Youth,” by Ted Bryan

July 26th, 2007

Accent on Youth

by

Ted Bryan

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Ted Bryan is a seventeen-year-old Portland, Oregon resident who was co-winner of the 2006 Accent on Youth Essay Contest, as judged by jazz critic Gary Giddins, vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the publisher of Jerry Jazz Musician. His passion for jazz is the focus of the column.

This column was originally published December 6, 2006

 

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Winter is the Time For Jazz

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Put on Lester Young, Buddy Rich and Nat King Cole, 1946: “I’ve Found A New Baby”…

 

Some people fancy Spring as the time for Love, but I think Winter is the ideal season for it…getting no help from the weather, we are forced look to each other for warmth…funny, Winter is usually equated with death…and when you die you can’t take anything with you: no props allowed…your material rots and your spirit, if it’s not already gone, is on its own as it goes to the great mystery…despite this, Winter, for the living, is great for props, especially because, as I say, it’s the time for Love…and since one can’t look out, to nature –– it’s all dying! –– you can’t make use of it! –– the heart, the aforementioned ‘spirit’, and whatever extraneous tools are handy, must be solely relied on to foment romance…and what’s one of the best material effecters of Love molecules? Why, Jazz!

If you are a regular reader of this publication, it’s a good bet you’ve incorporated Jazz into your everyday routine, but if you haven’t yet, well, listen good…

In my head, Jazz is a street music, and Winter is when people walk arm-in-arm with each other, excitedly, down cold avenues, boulevards filled with shoppers foolishly scrambling, you and a companion out for whatever, caught in the same foolishness or nobly pathed around it; or you walk alone, collar up, either going out or going home, and Jazz walks with you in its sonor, its dolor –– it’s the fog across the moon and it is the fog too –– the Greek Presocratic philosopher Parmenides said, “all things have been named light and night…[they are] of both equally, since nothing shares in neither”…Jazz shares in all you ask it to. It’s a romance language, pure lyric. It’s much more than I could ever hope to say about it. I think Jazz criticism often makes the mistake of trying to define an art form that is almost pure magic. Hell, I don’t know what Jazz is. Do you?

I say Winter is the time for Love because it is the time we are most desperate for it: and our time is a desperate one, in a multitude of ways.

I think Jazz fans face an almost complete cultural alienation right now. Where is Jazz in the year 2006? Where has it been? Where will it be? Jazz is withering as the tree outside my window: if not dead, dying. We have a glut of reissues to play around with, a history of jazz written forwards and backwards by predominantly white jazz writers and record company executives…but what are we going to do once Jazz runs out? Once there is no more Jazz to reissue, will it be possible to find the contemporary artists and extract them out of their impacted niches in obscurantism? The biggest crux about all this: what can we do to help the state of Jazz right now?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I have found my way ‘in’ to Jazz, it has become a part of my cultural conception, but for the majority of Americans it is not even on the map. Jazz is “the language of the tribe,” but the tribe is shrinking. And with Jazz reduced, in the cultural consciousness, to such anachronism –– what does that say of our LOVE, as a culture?

It’s almost too terrible to think about.

 

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To read Ted’s previous column, go to the next page

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In this Issue

photo courtesy John Bolger Collection
Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, 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.

Spring Poetry Collection

A Collection of Jazz Poetry – Spring, 2020 Edition There are many good and often powerful poems within this collection, one that has the potential for changing the shape of a reader’s universe during an impossibly trying time, particularly if the reader has a love of music. 33 poets from all over the globe contribute 47 poems. Expect to read of love, loss, memoir, worship, freedom, heartbreak and hope – all collected here, in the heart of this unsettling spring. (Featuring the art of Martel Chapman)

Interview

Ornette Coleman 1966/photo courtesy Mosaic Images
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Ornette Coleman: The Territory And The Adventure author Maria Golia discusses her compelling and rewarding book about the artist 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.

Poetry

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An invitation was extended recently for poets to submit work that reflects this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season. The first volume of this poetry is now published.

Features

Red Meditation by James Brewer
Creative artists and citizens of note 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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A now timely 2002 interview with Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. My hope when I produced this interview was that it would shed some light on this little-known brutal massacre, and help understand the pain and anger so entrenched in the American story. Eighteen years later, that remains my hope. .

Poetry

"Sister" by Warren Goodson
"Shit's About To Go Down" -- a poem by Aurora M. Lewis

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time – the author Philip Clark writes about the origins of the book, and his interest in shining a light on how Brubeck, “thoughtful and sensitive as he was, had been changed as a musician and as a man by the troubled times through which he lived and during which he produced such optimistic, life-enhancing art.”

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NBC Radio-photo by Ray Lee Jackson / Public domain
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, acclaimed biographer James Kaplan (Frank: The Voice and Sinatra: The Chairman) talks about his book, Irving Berlin: New York Genius, and 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.

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Maria Golia’s Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure – excerpted here in its entirety – the author takes the reader through the four phases of the brilliant musician’s career her book focuses on.

Art

Art by Charles Ingham
Charles Ingham’s “Jazz Narratives” connect time, place, and subject in a way that ultimately allows the viewer a unique way of experiencing jazz history. Volume 8 of the narratives are “The Entrance of Bessie Smith into San Diego”, “Lionel Hampton Is Coming to Dinner at Dr. Gordon’s House”, and “Lionel Hampton: Central Avenue Breakdown”

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

Jazz History Quiz #139

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, Nat “King” Cole (pictured), Dexter Gordon, James Taylor and Rickie Lee Jones, and was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists. He also turned down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?

Interview

photo unattributed/ Public domain
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.

Short Fiction

photo Creative Commons CC0
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #53 — “Market & Fifth, San Francisco, 1986,” by Paul Perilli

Photography

photo by Veryl Oakland
In this edition of photographs and stories from Veryl Oakland’s book Jazz in Available Light, Frank Morgan, Michel Petrucciani/Charles Lloyd, and Emily Remler are featured

Interview

photo by Fred Price
Bob Hecht and Grover Sales host a previously unpublished 1985 interview with the late, great jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, who talks about Miles, Kenton, Ornette, Tristano, and the art of improvisation...

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photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Con Chapman, author of Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges discusses the great Ellington saxophonist

Humor

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
"Louis Armstrong on the Moon," by Dig Wayne

Pressed for All Time

A&M Records/photo by Carol Friedman
In this edition, producer John Snyder recalls Sun Ra, and his 1990 Purple Night recording session

Interview

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

Great Encounters

photo of Sidney Bechet by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
In this edition of "Great Encounters," 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.”

Poetry

The winter collection of poetry offers readers a look at the culture of jazz music through the imaginative writings of its 32 contributors. Within these 41 poems, writers express their deep connection to the music – and those who play it – in their own inventive and often philosophical language that communicates much, but especially love, sentiment, struggle, loss, and joy.

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In the Previous Issue

Interviews with three outstanding, acclaimed writers and scholars who discuss their books on Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter, and their subjects’ lives in and out of music. These interviews – which each include photos and several full-length songs – provide readers easy access to an entertaining and enlightening learning experience about these three giants of American popular music.

In an Earlier Issue

photo by Carol Friedman
“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

Contributing writers

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