Aretha and her father — the Reverend C.L. Franklin

      The passing of Aretha Franklin yesterday hits hard on a variety of levels.  I am sure we all have wonderful Aretha memories.  For me, she will always be remembered as the singer who opened my world to the sounds of soul and gospel music, and doing so during the height of the civil rights movement, when so much important work was being achieved — and cutting edge art was being created in response to it — virtually every day.

     Aretha learned to sing at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was minister — “the most famous African American preacher in America,” according to his biographer Nick Salvatore.  Franklin’s style of “booming, soaring, flashy and intense” preaching “revolutionized the art, and his call for his fellow African Americans to proclaim both their faith and their rights helped usher in the civil rights movement.”

     Rev. Franklin had an intense influence on daughter Aretha,  …[Aretha] always sang from her inners,” Ray Charles once said.  “In many ways she’s got her father’s feeling and passion,’ [for when C.L.] — one of the last great preachers — delivers a sermon, he builds his case so beautifully you can’t help but see the light. Same when Aretha sings.”

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August 17th, 2018

“One for (my) Daddy-O”

Besides doing his best to help raise three kids, during my 1960’s childhood my father worked his heart out at two jobs — one of which was as owner of a restaurant on Oakland’s Telegraph Avenue, and the other as a musician, playing trumpet and viola throughout the San Francisco Bay area, mostly on evenings and weekends in “casual” jobs. For years he was part of a strolling quartet that entertained San Francisco’s elite at the World Trade Club — an ensemble that at its peak toured the Philippines, playing to an audience that included

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June 17th, 2018

Gary Giddins…on Cecil Taylor

In 2003, as part of the Jerry Jazz Musician “Conversations with Gary Giddins” series, I was fortunate to interview Giddins — his generation’s most esteemed jazz writer — about Cecil Taylor, who died earlier today at age 89.  It is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in Cecil (or Gary). You can access it by

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April 6th, 2018

“The Passing of a Poet” — an appreciation for Mike Faran

Poetry is a courageous art form.  No poet can possibly succeed without the willingness to create a completely transparent window into his or her soul.  A poet rarely achieves by faking it.

A successful poet’s thoughts are naked to the world, and this full-on exposure — because it is so often blunt and painful for the poet — leaves the reader with a reasonable understanding of lives led and footsteps taken (or not).  These revelations build a rewarding and intimate connection.

I have never met or spoken to Mike Faran, whose poetry I occasionally publish on Jerry Jazz Musician.  I only outwardly know him by the short biography he sent me — retired lobster trap builder from Ventura who has had some work published in journals around the country.  That’s it, really.  I don’t even have a photo of him. 

He has periodically sent me emails with a poem or two attached to them, seeking my interest in publishing them.  (“Here is another poem that I hope will meet with your approval.”) Although I haven’t published them all, they almost always

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January 17th, 2018

Remembering Fats Domino

Fats Domino is remembered as a rock and roll legend, and idolized by many musicians of his era, including Elvis Presley, who, according Peter Guaralnick, author of Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, referred to Fats as “The King of Rock and Roll.”

In 2006, Jerry Jazz Musician contributor Adrienne Wartts interviewed Domino’s biographer Rick Coleman…You can read it by

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October 30th, 2017

Ella is 100

2017 is the 100th birthday year of several jazz immortals – among them Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, and, today, Ella Fitzgerald.

As a young and naïve jazz fan in the 1960’s, like Louis Armstrong, Ella seemed “square” to me – her voice too sweet and happy for my ears, especially when compared to the singer who most moved my soul to discover more of the music, Billie Holiday.   Plus, the Songbook series she became internationally famous for seemed too smartly packaged, slick in a Madison-Avenue-way that tore me away from the bins that stocked her record albums.

Over the years, however, I eventually came to appreciate and cherish her, especially as I learned the courageous and inspirational nature of her biography, and played her recordings with Chick Webb, and dug the collaborations with the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and eventually, of course,

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April 25th, 2017

A memory of Nat Hentoff

Paul Morris is a longtime friend and contributing writer of Jerry Jazz Musician.  He currently writes “Cover Stories with Paul Morris,” a frequent column about classic record album art and design.

Paul shares a memory of the legendary jazz writer and journalist Nat Hentoff, who died on January 7 at the age of 91.

 

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     In the late 1970’s I was a jazz fan who liked reading about the music as much as listening to it. My next music choice often came from a recommendation from a jazz critic’s liner notes or articles. Nat Hentoff proved to be a reliable guide in his early jazz books and the occasional article. 

     These years were the heyday of the Village Voice, where Hentoff was a regular. He concentrated on First Amendment issues in his Voice column, but from time to time he would mention

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January 30th, 2017

A writer’s appreciation of Nat Hentoff — by Scott Shachter

I was eighteen when I read Nat Hentoff’s Jazz Is, and it changed my life. I’d always thought good jazz was just the crafting of pretty notes with a smooth feel. I’d never imagined it could be a “cry for justice.” Or a captivating tour through a heart lay bare. The greatest jazz goes even beyond that: the symphony of a soul freshly released and taking flight, nothing less than what Nat calls “spirit-music.”

As readers know, Nat Hentoff was far more than a jazz authority. He was a spectacular writer and a freedom-of-speech icon with no tolerance for hypocrisy. He was a great hero of

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January 11th, 2017

On Nat Hentoff

I am saddened to read of the passing of journalist Nat Hentoff, who died yesterday at the age of 91. Hentoff’s work was published by the Village Voice for 50 years, and was also frequently found in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the Wall Street Journal, and Jazz Times. He was also editor of Downbeat during the mid-1950’s. There are many obituaries available to read about Nat and his career – including Robert McFaddin’s in today’s New York Times.

As I began publishing original content on Jerry Jazz Musician in 1999, I had the privilege of having my site embraced by the three most prominent jazz writers of the time, Gary Giddins, Stanley Crouch, and Nat Hentoff. All three of them got involved in Jerry Jazz Musician in their own way.

Giddins — who I was able to catch up with during a recent trip I took to New York — and I developed an interview series called

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January 8th, 2017

Bobby Hutcherson, 1941 – 2016

Bobby Hutcherson, the most eminent postbop jazz vibraphonist who helped define the sound of Blue Note Records during the 1960’s and 70’s, has died. Described by contemporary vibes player Stefon Harris as “by far the most harmonically advanced person to ever play the vibraphone,” his career included the release of more than 40 albums as leader, and as a prominent sideman on many great records, including Eric Dolphy’s classic Out to Lunch and Jackie McLean’s One Step Beyond. I saw him many years ago at Kimball’s in Oakland (long since shuttered), an exciting set that, if memory serves, included

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August 16th, 2016

A brief tribute to Maurice White

On the heels of the deaths of iconic rock musicians David Bowie and Glenn Frey comes the very sad news that Maurice White, the founder of the Earth, Wind and Fire, has died today at age 74. White’s music came to prominence in the thick of soul’s musical ascent, and E W & F embodied the sound of urban America at the time, their message communicated optimistically and on a large scale. White’s band possessed an unusual crossover appeal — the fact that his death has invited praise from

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February 5th, 2016

Meadowlark Lemon and the complexity of being a Globetrotter (and Globetrotter fan)

This morning came news of the passing of Meadowlark Lemon, the face of the Harlem Globetrotters for more than 20 years, his peak coming during the height of the civil rights movement. It was a complex time to be a Globetrotter, who at one time (prior to Lemon’s tenure with the team) was a legitimate and powerful basketball entity that was so good in 1948 it beat George Mikan’s Minneapolis Lakers, to that of a team so focused on clowning that, in the words of Bruce Weber in today’s New York Times obituary, “some thought to be a discomforting resurrection of the minstrel show.”

It was also a complex time to be a fan of the Globetrotters, whose occasional appearance on national television always elicited

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December 28th, 2015

“One For Daddy-O” — in memory of my dad on Father’s Day

Besides doing his best to help raise three kids, during my 1960’s childhood my father worked his heart out at two jobs — one of which was as owner of a restaurant on Oakland’s Telegraph Avenue, and the other as a musician, playing trumpet and viola throughout the San Francisco Bay area, mostly on evenings and weekends in “casual” jobs. For years he was part of a strolling quartet that entertained San Francisco’s elite at the World Trade Club — an ensemble that at its peak toured the Philippines, playing to an audience that included

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June 21st, 2015

Amiri Baraka — “Beatnik, Black Nationalist, Marxist”

Amiri Baraka, the poet, author, playwright and activist who, as described by the New York Times, “spent his early career as a beatnik, his middle years as a black nationalist and his later ones as a Marxist,” died on January 9 at the age of 79. In Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics, John Gennari called him “the pioneer and preeminent symbol of the 1960’s black cultural revolution” who, along with Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, and Huey Newton gave “black power a distinctive masculinist intonation.”

As a jazz and blues writer, he was brilliant, essential, astute and polarizing. Of Baraka’s writing in the 1960’s (while LeRoi Jones), Stanley Crouch — himself a brilliant and polarizing jazz writer — said that he was “the first

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January 14th, 2014

Earl “Fatha” Hines Lives On

Earl “Fatha” Hines was born on this day in 1901. As one of jazz music’s most influential pianists, his work has touched the creative heart of American culture since 1925, when he first met Louis Armstrong at a Musicians’ Union poolroom in Chicago.

Hines is one of those figures who contributed to the development of jazz on a variety of levels. In The Chronicle of Jazz, Mervyn Cooke credits Hines’ “trumpet style playing” for being the “first tangible departure from the post-ragtime stride idiom, cultivating a right-hand melodic technique more directly comparable to that of front-line melody instruments.”

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December 28th, 2013

Remembering music critic Ralph J. Gleason

Few music writers had the resume of San Francisco’s Ralph J. Gleason: Columbia University School of Journalism; critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, where, in 1950, his criticism of popular music was the first such column in an American daily newspaper (before Gleason, newspapers regularly reviewed classical music only); produced the Jazz Casual television show for public television; witnessed and reported on all of the happenings of San Francisco during a time now known as the “San Francisco Renaissance,” when Gleason effectively connected the diverse endeavors of the era’s progressive musicians, literary figures, and comedians into an artistic aesthetic; co-founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival; writer on many a jazz record liner note (the next time you pull out Miles’ Bitches Brew, check out Gleason’s poetic description); contributing writer to Ramparts; co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine.

John Gennari, author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics – itself an important history of jazz journalism – described Gleason as “the jazz critic who

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December 14th, 2013

Remembering Clifford Brown

October 30 is Clifford Brown’s 83rd birthday. Long since deceased (he died in a car crash in 1956 at age 25), his birthday is a reminder of the musical joy he shared with his listeners, and of his classic sound. For me, it is a time of remembrance and appreciation for the contribution he made to intensifying my interest in jazz. To this day, my memory is thick with the sound of “Joy Spring” filling my Berkeley apartment in the mid-1970’s, when I was falling in love with the music.

Check out what bandmate Harold Land said about Brown, and then treat yourself to a listen to “Joy Spring.”

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October 30th, 2013

Fats Navarro’s 90th Birthday

“As an influence, Navarro was important almost immediately after he first made his presence felt in the mid-1940s Billy Eckstine band. Kenny Dorham was affected early in his career and you could hear Fats in Red Rodney too. Then, of course, came Clifford Brown and through him Navarro has indirectly influenced so many of the young trumpeters playing today.”

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September 24th, 2013

On the Passing of Jazz Photographer Lee Tanner

There is no disputing the fact that the power of jazz lies within the music itself. Giants of the art like Armstrong, Duke, Basie, Dizzy, Bird, Monk, Miles and Coltrane ushered us into this music with a display of genius so great that an entire lifetime isn’t ample space to fully absorb all their passion.

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September 16th, 2013

In this Issue

“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…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings by six artists -- Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano. Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian, and Aaron Burnett

Short Fiction

"Crossing the Ribbon" by Linnea Kellar is the winning story of the 51st Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute to the Summer, 2019 collection of jazz poetry reflecting an array of energy, emotion and improvisation

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

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

Pressed for All Time

In an excerpt from his book Pressed for All Time, Michael Jarrett interviews producer John Snyder about the experience of working with Ornette Coleman at the time of his 1977 album Dancing in Your Head

Art

“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — a continuing series

Poetry

Poetry by John Stupp and Michael L. Newell

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams.

Interviews

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, discusses her late husband’s complex, fascinating life.

Short Fiction

“A Viennese Tale,” a story by Matias Travieso-Diaz, was a finalist in our recently concluded 51st Short Fiction Contest.

In the previous issue

Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...

Coming Soon

An interview with Nate Chinen, director of editorial content at WBGO Radio, former New York Times jazz writer, and the author of Playing Changes: Jazz in the New Century.

Contributing writers

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