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Great, thought-provoking article, Greg. Let's also not forget that in the 1970s, in Los Angeles, Stanley Crouch played drums and led a free jazz ensemble called Black Music Infinity, with Bobby Bradford, James Newton, David Murray, and Mark Dresser.
It's hard to speculate on what drove him in the opposite direction, musically, but he does have the benefit of real experience as a musician on his side, authenticity wise. Certainly he desrves recognition in terms of lifetimer achievement.
Decent article on a subject which is usually swept under the rug. Sad truth is that -for too long- too many venues consider it risky and controversial to hire proficient African American writers to offer critical analysis on this globe-spanning African American-rooted music. Imagine the rightful outrage if someone dared suggest that it would be inappropriate for qualified Jewish writers to offer analysis about Klezmer music! A priceless legacy in American critical appraisal remains vastly unrecognized and drastically undervalued in the annals of American letters. Time for this to change.
Glad to have you illuminate these topics Greg. Your observations about cultural voids, in this case regarding the awards ceremony, help us see who we are as a nation and move forward by way of continuous critique. In essence, you make the invisible visible and the inaudible, heard. GG's comments about fairness are instructive because he does not levy the charge of racism to describe the absence of black writers/journalists in the mix of contributors. Rather, he notes close personal connections and the pragmatic need to fill spaces efficiently. This sensible truth might well indicate the ongoing need for Committees on Diversity that could help ensure fairness through a more objective approach to making award or writing/journalistic selections. Subjective selections based on close kinship and familiarity may not indicate overt racism but they don't encourage active integration either.
Excellent suggestion based on keen insight, Jackie. Thanks!.
What? A black writer has never won the Jazz Journalist Association's Lifetime Achievement Award? Impossible. Actually, I wasn't even aware black people played jazz at all, or could play it with any respectable level of competency, far less compose or contribute anything of any noteworthy significant to it.
I have known Hollie West for many years, having met him during our high school days here in Oklahoma when we both participated in music contests (we both played trumpet). Over the years he sent me many articles he had written for the Post and other publications. His articles were always well thought out and insightful. An interview of Sonny Rollins many years ago was brilliant. Thanks to Gary for mentioning Hollie and giving him some well overdue recognition.
Great writers often get in the way of the recognition of their genius by obscuring the genius of their written work with their actions off the page.
I have a distaste in my mouth when I think of Stanley Crouch, partly for the alluded to turns against the music, but more so because he punched an old girlfriend's mother (as well as critics whose work he doesn't like). I know cultural conservatism needn't pair with disregard for the right of others not to be subjected to violence, but I can't help but find the extreme entitlement, sense of ownership over other people's music, dismissive attitudes toward many peoples expression of who they are and how they see this country as connected to the inability to control your desire to hit another person.
Guess I wanted to just make the point there's more to take issue with Stanley Crouch than just his taste in jazz. But as his fellow writer (who you are right to say he would now most likely loathe being in the same sentence as) Amiri Baraka always said: when he sticks to writing about what he hears in the music, his taste and craft is impeccable. No question both Baraka and Crouch are worthy of recognition for their place in jazz criticism, but I doubt either is really worrying about some extremely late awards.
An informative and important article treated with great literary respect and intellectual curiosity. This topic, though, is a scratched record preventing the needle from moving forward. Maybe the real problem isn't the record. It maybe that the audience has gone to sleep or left the room. Who out there can turn the old maxim, "if you can't beat 'em join 'em," on its head? If you can't join 'em beat 'em!I can't verifiably say that JJA is racist any more than I can George Zimmerman is racist. I do believe that racial thought pervades the way white as well as black people formulate their analyses and conclusions about events, circumstances and each other. In other words you don't have to be racist to have racially biased thoughts. So if a literary or journalistic organization has yet to recognize an African American writer this is an echo of an argument that propagates the assumption that they, black people, do not possess the intellectual capacity to produce original works of literary note.
Machine Mass feat. Dave Liebman
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