Happy Birthday to George Cables — the pianist Art Pepper called “Mr. Beautiful”

George Cables is 69 years old today. The great bebop pianist — who played with Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper (who called him “Mr. Beautiful”), Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, and countless others — continues to be an important contributor to jazz, but especially so during the 1970’s, when bebop was not the easiest musical genre to find on recordings of the time. When I was breaking into the record business in the late 1970’s, his Contemporary Records recording Cables Vision was a fixture on my turntable — a record that featured Hubbard on trumpet, Ernie Watts on sax, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, and Peter Erskine on drums. To this day it sounds fresh and invigorating and irresistible.

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November 14th, 2013

In Celebration of the LP’s Comeback

On the heels of news reported in the Huffington Post in April that LP sales “were the highest they’ve been in 15 years” comes word from a friend who owns one of the country’s great indie record stores that vinyl sales now account for over 30% of his store’s revenue.  And who is buying the vinyl? “Teenagers.”

In honor of this growing comeback, we present a poem by Michael Harper, one of America’s most celebrated poets.

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October 12th, 2013

Stanley Crouch’s biography of Charlie Parker

Harper has recently released Kansas City Lightning, The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker, the long anticipated biography (part one) by Stanley Crouch, long one of jazz music’s most outspoken and influential intellectuals. With the liveliness of a novel, Crouch’s first chapter describes the scene in New York’s Savoy Ballroom when Jay McShann (Parker on alto) dueled Lucky Millinder’s band. Check out this sampling of the story, in which Crouch describes Parker’s need for getting high, and doing so prior to the evening’s performance…

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October 11th, 2013

On the Influence of Albert Murray

One of my more interesting experiences as publisher of Jerry Jazz Musician was producing a series of interviews that focused on the work of the novelist Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man was a favorite novel of mine as a young man, but it wasn’t until I reread it in the 1990’s before I began to understand the enormity of its cultural significance. At that time, Ellison’s second (and unfinished) novel Juneteenth was being published, and a variety of books on Ellison were released at the same time – among them Living with Music, a collection of Ellison’s writings on jazz music edited by Columbia University scholar Robert O’Meally, and Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray.

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October 2nd, 2013

When Charlie Parker Played for Igor Stravinsky

Ever since Patrick Jarenwattananon of the NPR Classical Music blog Deceptive Cadence published a story called “Why Jazz Musicians Love ‘The Rite of Spring'” in May, there has been a lot of traffic on the Jerry Jazz Musician page devoted to the meeting of Charlie Parker and Igor Stravinsky. NPR linked their readers to our “Great Encounters” page called “When Charlie Parker played for Igor Stravinsky,” where Jazz Modernism author, the late jazz scholar Alfred Appel, tells the story of how “Stravinsky roared with delight

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September 27th, 2013

An Exhibition Featuring Romare Bearden’s Art

One of the most consistently popular pages on Jerry Jazz Musician over the years has been “The Art of Romare Bearden,” an exhibition devoted to the work of the famous Harlem Renaissance artist. I was originally drawn to his work because of the artistic continuity of his images and the sounds of the culture he portrays.

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September 26th, 2013

John Goodman on Charles Mingus — An Interview Fragment

I recently published an interview with John Goodman, author of Mingus Speaks, a terrific book of interviews Goodman conducted with Mingus in the early ’70’s.

The following is an interview fragment…

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September 25th, 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

Two Books to Place on the “Must Read” List

Reading the New York Times Book Review page this morning, I ran across reviews of two new books by writers I interviewed for Jerry Jazz Musician over ten years ago. The first is Columbia University professor Farah Griffin, who just wrote Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II. The book focuses on the lives of three female artists of the era – the dancer Pearl Primus, the writer Ann Petry, and the jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams

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September 22nd, 2013

Roger Singer: A Seriously Good Jazz Poet

For years, we have been publishing work by poets from all over the world who are dedicated to putting into words their relationship with jazz music. Our most prolific poet is Roger Singer, a living, breathing example of fire and love and brilliance. His contribution to the art of jazz is here – all 26 pages of it – in full glory, waiting for interested readers to discover.

Here is a new poem of his, just published today…

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September 20th, 2013

A Dave Brubeck story found in Marc Myers’ book Why Jazz Happened

Last week I reached out to jazz writer Marc Myers, who, in addition to publishing Jazz Wax, one of the jazz community’s most popular and respected blogs, wrote Why Jazz Happened, a book on jazz history that Creed Taylor says treats “jazz history like an epic saga.” I thought it would be an interesting experience to read Myers’ book and eventually interview him about it, which will happen in the next couple of weeks, with an anticipated publication date on Jerry Jazz Musician sometime in late October.

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September 19th, 2013

Coming Soon: An Interview about Bud Powell, with Guthrie Ramsey, author of The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop

When an opportunity to discuss Bud Powell comes along, you take it – especially when the conversation involves a scholar with the chops of Guthrie Ramsay, the Professor of Music and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania who recently wrote The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop. Professor Ramsey’s book focuses on all of these complex topics within the context of Bud Powell’s life and career.

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September 18th, 2013

In This Issue

This issue features a roundtable discussion about how the world of religion may have impacted the creative lives of Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Also, previous winners of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest reflect on their winning story; three new podcasts from Bob Hecht; new collection of poetry; recommendations of recently released jazz recordings, and lots more.

Short Fiction

"The Wailing Wall" -- a short story by Justin Short

Interviews

Three prominent religious scholars -- Wallace Best, Tracy Fessenden and M. Cooper Harriss -- join us in a conversation about how the world of religion during the life and times of Langston Hughes (pictured), Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison helps us better comprehend the meaning of their work.

Poetry

Nine poets contribute ten poems celebrating jazz in poems as unique as the music itself

Short Fiction

In celebration of our upcoming 50th Short Fiction Contest, previous contest winners (dating to 2002) reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

The Joys of Jazz

In this edition, award winning radio producer Bob Hecht tells three stories; 1) on Charlie Christian, the first superstar of jazz guitar; 2) the poet Langston Hughes’ love of jazz music, and 3) a profile of the song “Strange Fruit”

On the Turntable

25 recently released jazz tunes that are worth listening to…including Bobo Stenson; Medeski, Martin and Wood; Muriel Grossman and Rudy Royston

Features

Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Randy Brecker and Tom Piazza are among those responding to our question, "What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940's?"

Poetry

"Billie Holiday" -- a poem (with collage) by Steve Dalachinsky

Coming Soon

Thomas Brothers, Duke University professor of music and author of two essential biographies of Louis Armstrong, is interviewed about his new book, HELP! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration; also, Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, author of An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden, in a conversation about the brilliant 20th Century artist

In the previous issue

This issue features an interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins; a collection of poetry devoted to the World War II era; and a new edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo,” in which the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s” is posed to Rickie Lee Jones, Chick Corea, Tom Piazza and others.

Contributing writers

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