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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Genius Guide to Jazz


By Published: August 29, 2004
Musicians in the fifties were the very epitome of everything cool. Just the presence of Miles Davis and John Coltrane lowered the earth's average temperature by 2.4 degrees (in contrast, the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines only lowered the earth's average temperature by 1.36 degrees, and didn't swing anywhere near as hard). Increasingly free from the overbearing commercial concerns that forced jazz squarely to the middle of the road at times in previous decades, musicians were given more leeway to explore and experiment. The music became so rhythmically and melodically complex that it required a graduate degree from a good college just to listen to it. The unfortunate corollary effect was the creation of the Van Dyke-and-beret-wearing quasi-Bohemian poseur that has taken nearly a half-century to weed out of the collective consciousness.

So here we are, poised on the edge of the Golden Age of American Jazz, a time when some of the most gifted musicians in American history were at the peak of their creative powers, a time when the music was as exciting and new as it would ever be, a time when women boldly wore fishnet stockings and bullet bras and I wouldn't even be born in time to enjoy it, damn the luck. I think this would be as good a place as any to wind up the piece till next time, when I can give proper due to my favorite era in jazz. And also, enough time for you to forget most of the gags from this piece so I can recycle them next month.

Speaking of which.

NEXT MONTH: The enigmatic Thelonious Monk creates some of the most distinct compositions of the twentieth century, Miles Davis and John Coltrane combine to redefine the very concept of jazz, Dave Brubeck brings innovative meters and melodies to a new audience, and the editors of struggle to come to grips with their decision to make me the Resident Humorist of this website.

Till next month, exit to your right and enjoy the rest of

Meet the Genius

Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius, was born on August 24, 1967, in the slaw fields of Kentucky, the son of a cole miner. Abandoned as an infant and raised by a pack of wolves, he was later abandoned by the wolves and adopted by a school of trout. Abandoned by the trout, he was adopted by Don and Ina Fitzgerald who were unable to abandon the wily veteran.

Fitzgerald, a college drop-out, is an almost complete autodidact (which isn't nearly as dirty as it sounds). He is currently 34 years old, although he reads on a 36 year-old level, and lives in Virginia. He has never killed anyone who wasn't asking for it (in writing) and lists his hobbies as "drinking, baseball, and then more drinking."

Fitzgerald won the title of Genius by knocking out Albert Einstein in the sixth round at Madison Square Gardens in April of 1987. When it was discovered that Einstein had, in fact, been dead for 32 years, Fitzgerald refused to yield the title. He stated that if Einstein hadn't been up to the bout, he should have said something during the weigh-in.

Fitzgerald is single, but is currently accepting applications.

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