A road trip during the time of COVID

July 18th, 2020

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The road to Idaho’s Little Camas Reservoir; June 20, 2020

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…..I recently went on a two week road trip.

…..A few months ago such a casual bit of news would have aroused only the slightest interest.  Select friends would display a polite enthusiasm, a question or two about the destination or accommodations would be raised, and perhaps a handful of pictures would even be endured.

…..However, in the age of COVID, where the world is shut out while we shut in, news of a road trip is greeted with a degree of surprise and a hopeful interest not ordinarily seen.

…..“You went…out?  You lucky son-of-a-bitch!  What was it like?  How did you eat?  Where did you go to the bathroom?  Were people wearing face masks???”

…..Such is where we are now, where an otherwise ordinary road trip is a subject of genuine curiosity, of awe and envy, and the traveler is treated as a courageous, conquering hero.

…..Like many of us approaching true elder status, I have basically shuttered myself in my basement since March, only emerging to walk the dog in our leafy neighborhood, sit in the nearby park, grill dinner on the barbecue, and occasionally greet those wonderful souls delivering life’s essentials.  Such a routine can result in a general lack of energy, what a friend refers to as  “COVID Brain,” which he defines as ”a deprivation of social and environmental nutrients.”  My hunch is that most of us can check that box.

…..Adding to this affliction, of late I have too often found myself brooding over America’s ineptitude in dealing with COVID and the twin plagues of systemic racism and sexism.  (With very little argument, our parents’ generation was proclaimed the “Greatest.” I have hardly a doubt that historians won’t see ours in quite the same light).  In between this brooding I seek hope in the future for our kids, wish that employment opportunities return before homelessness captures scores of innocent families, and imagine the day when people can once again safely congregate – perhaps to even board airplanes for some faraway adventure.

…..Meanwhile, since adventure is currently scant, I leaped at the chance to join a friend who asked me to travel with him in his camper van to North Dakota, where he has business interests.  After carefully determining that the states we would be traveling through had (at the time) only a handful  of COVID cases, and once we had each tested negative for COVID, we embarked on a journey that included many glorious back roads of Oregon (where we live),  Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and eventually North Dakota — places where Netflix is not required because the sky and the light and the birds are the show.

…..We camped, we hiked, we talked, we imbibed.  We watched in gratitude while two young strangers changed our flat tire (in the middle of nowhere), drove to the top of Yellowstone and back down again, and even endured an intense tornado warning.  And, within the snug confines of the van, we listened to jazz, blues, gospel, and rock and roll, all the while taking in the infinite grandeur of the West.

…..It felt wonderfully normal.  Inspirational.  And yes…Hopeful.

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…..Things that I am working on, soon to be published…A collection entitled ”Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season – Vol. 2”.  To read Vol. 1, click here…Also, a  summer collection of poetry is upcoming, scheduled for mid-August (you can read the spring collection here).

…..I will soon be interviewing Nicholas Buccola, author of The Fire is Upon Us:  James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate Over Race in America (which accompanied me on my trip, and is an absolutely essential and timely read).

…..In anticipation of an upcoming interview with the author, I have also begun reading Will Friedwald’s Straighten Up and Fly Right:  The Life and Music of Nat King Cole.  I am also cooking up some ideas that involve a look at the life of pianist Errol Garner.

…..Meanwhile, stay safe and healthy…and be hopeful.

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….Now, about those handful of pictures to be endured…A few shots from my travels:

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Unity, Oregon

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Shaniko, Oregon

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Vale, Oregon

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The Little Camas Reservoir, near Mountain Home, Idaho

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Irwin, Idaho

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Grand Teton National Park

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The Yellowstone River, Wyoming

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Highway 12, near Martinsdale, Montana

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Watford City, North Dakota

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Watford City, North Dakota

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Capping off the trip in Lolo, Montana, with a taste of lemoncello, a Father’s Day gift

 

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Listen to a 1966 recording of “Road Song,” by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery

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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.

Greetings from Portland!

Commentary and photographs concerning the protests taking place in the city in which I live.

Poetry

Mood Indigo by Matthew Hinds
An invitation was extended recently for poets to submit work that reflects this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season. 14 poets contribute to the first volume of collected poetry.

Poetry

photo by Russell duPont
The second volume of poetry reflecting this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season features the work of 23 poets

Short Fiction

photo FDR Presidential Library & Museum
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #54 — “A Failed Artist’s Paradise” by Nathaniel Neil Whelan

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?”

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.

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)

Publisher’s Notes

On taking a road trip during the time of COVID...

Photography

photo by Veryl Oakland
In this edition of photographs and stories from Veryl Oakland’s book Jazz in Available Light, Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin are featured

Interview

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

photo by John Vachon/Library of Congress
“Climate Change” — Ten poems in sequence by John Stupp

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.”

Interview

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. This edition's narratives are "Nat King Cole: The Shadow of the Word," "Slain in Cold Blood" and "Local 767: The Black Musicians’ Union"

Interview

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.

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...

Interview

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.

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

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Dianne Reeves, Nate Chinen, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Eliane Elias and Ashley Kahn are among the 12 writers, musicians, and music executives who list and write about their favorite Blue Note albums

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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