A Fireside Chat with Stanley Crouch
AAJ: Isn't that a mark of civility, that people aren't savages? That really isn't a sign of a utopian society.
SC: Well, do you see it in the world? You don't see it in the Islamic world at all. You saw what happened in Nigeria recently. Somebody wrote something in the newspaper (published book) that the Muslims in northern Nigeria didn't like and they went and burned down churches and attacked anybody on the street who supposedly looked Christian and a couple hundred people were killed before they were able to quiet them down. That's what we're dealing with. It doesn't have anything to do with the religion, but it has to do with a fundamental hysteria that exists in that culture. We can't look down on that hysteria because that kind of hysteria has appeared too many times in our own American past to pretend that we don't know what it is.
AAJ: As co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, what is the social importance of the new $128 million home for JALC in the Time Warner Center?
SC: It is the first time, not only in the United States, but the entire world that a major hall has been built for jazz, built to get the sound of jazz right, and to get past things that all of us have been so discouraged about over the years when we go to these great halls where symphony orchestras sound good, but jazz bands sound terrible because the acoustics of the building are not made to deal with cymbals and the other things that create the sound of jazz. That's one thing. Then there's a club in there, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola that can compete with any club in the United States for sound. There is another smaller room that is equally great. The point is that this is an example that will hopefully be imitated in Chicago, in Philadelphia, in Boston, in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, that we will get these halls that are built for jazz and we will have this serious consideration of the music.
AAJ: There exists a significant amount of discourse involving the perceived elitist programming of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
SC: I say to the critics what I always say, Greg Osby has played up there. Jason Moran has played up there. Dewey Redman has played there. I don't exactly know what they want, but if they want something that's not there, they can get together and rent a hall and present what they think needs to be presented. People have done that in the past. I've been in New York 30 years and I've never seen any group of critics ever go in their pockets and get together and produce any concerts with any of these people they claim are being ignored. I've never seen it. That wasn't true earlier when people like Leonard Feather and Nat Hentoff came out and put their pennies and nickels and quarters together and rent Town Hall and present Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. I would like to see that.