Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius joined All About Jazz in 2001
Jeff Fitzgerald is AAJ's resident genius and is often consulted on jazz-related matters of national unimportance.
It is exactly this newfound consciousness in jazz that began to sequester it from the mainstream. Far removed from the top-tapping feel-good music it had been in eras past, jazz now made certain demands of the listener. It required a trained ear, a willing mind, and a $3 cover or 2-drink minimum. And even the personalities of the musicians now grew more complex. At the forefront, perhaps only Dizzy Gillespie embodied the easygoing, extroverted spirit that had made Louis Armstrong one of jazz's most successful ambassadors. Less accessible performers like Miles Davis, who sometimes played with his back to his audience (jazz historians now feel this was so he wouldn't giggle at the sight of whitebread college kids with flattop haircuts nodding their heads knowingly as he played) and Thelonious Monk, who was so introverted that he had to write down his own internal monologues and mail them to himself so he wouldn't feel awkward with that level of intimacy, were now also in the vanguard.
Jazz venues of the fifties also reflected the changing current of the music. No longer elaborate showplaces of social interaction like the Savoy or the Roseland ballrooms, clubs like the Five Spot and the Village Vanguard (let's see how many times we can work the word vanguard into this article) provided more intimate showcases for the music. Some clubs were so intimate that the audience was virtually indistinguishable from the musicians, which made getting waited on a chancy proposition at best. More than a few musicians began their careers when they went to hear a jazz concert and were actually seated behind a piano or drum kit. This is not how Oscar Peterson and Max Roach got their starts, but wouldn't it be interesting if they had?
I thought as much.
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