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Genius Guide to Jazz

Join Jeff Fitzgerald, The Dean of American Jazz Humorists©®, on a hilarious romp through the history of jazz.


Rising Stars: The Beginning of the Han Dynasty

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As I write this, there is a government shutdown in effect due to a budget impasse. What that means to you, kids, is that I am free to do whatever the hell I want without the constrictive Federal Jazz Commission telling me what is and isn't appropriate material for this column. If I wanted to write an entire article about Art Tatum's left hand, for example, there'd be no one to stop me. I can finally stretch my legs as ...


Preferential Treatment

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If you know anything at all about Your Own Personal Genius, you know that I like my steaks Pittsburgh rare (which has nothing to do with the article, but if you ever have me over for dinner). And, you know that I have a major thing for Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany, from the show Orphan Black. You also know that I'm not one to play favorites, and I also have a crush on actress Heather Lind from the show Turn: ...


Jazz Lovers Series: Hugh Hefner

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If, for some reason, one were to make a list of the most famous and influential lovers of Our Music, one would find it a Sisyphean task. Jazz lovers come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. One would find us well represented across the entire spectrum of society, from sports to entertainment to politics and then back to sports because frankly, I've had enough politics for one lifetime lately. But then.


How the Other Half Swings

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If there has been a frequent criticism of the Genius Guide, besides the fact that it's hard to tell what the hell I'm going on about most of the time, it would be that I have largely ignored the contributions of women to Our Music. One would think, from the body of my work to this point, that Jazz is an exclusively male club. I've profiled everyone from Duke Ellington to Dave Douglas, discussed the who, what, and why of ...


Trumpet From On High

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I recently celebrated my sixteenth anniversary at AAJ with a quiet ceremony held in the mahogany-paneled Writer's Lounge at AAJ Headquarters in jny: Philadelphia. I'm not much of a cake person, but there were cheesesteaks from Sonny's and enough alcohol to get an entire fraternity through a regulation 30-day month. Commodore Ricci and my fellow member of the Southern contingent C. Michael Bailey were there. A good time was had by all, and most of the charges will eventually either ...


Cloudland Re-Revisited: Think of One

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In the nearly sixteen years I've been at my post as resident Genius here at AAJ, the question has often come up as to how I came to be the Dean of American Jazz Humorists®. As most of you know, I was born in Kentucky to West Virginia hillbillies and raised in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. Clifton Forge, my hometown, was not known as a hotbed for Our Music; nor was the nearest “city" of Roanoke, where the ...


Making A Jazz Blockbuster

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Reprinted from June 2005. Hey kids, summer will soon be upon us like Julie Kaiser in 10th grade; long, hot and filled with endless entertainment possibilities. So let's make a jazz-themed summer blockbuster movie. It'll be fun, educational, bring newfound attention to jazz, and might just earn us all enough money to plunge ourselves into a nightmarish world of excess and megalomaniacal self-delusion. You'll need: Two 35mm Panaflex cameras 15,000 feet of Fuji ...


Old and Improved

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It should come as no surprise to those of you who follow this column religiously (welcome members of St. Bud's and Our Lady of Perpetual Drinking) that Your Own Personal Genius must, from time to time, step away from his post at AAJ to recharge his creative batteries. While this happens less often than it used to, since I switched to lithium ion from the outdated nickel cadmium creative batteries, I must still occasionally retreat from the pressures of being ...


The 9% Solution

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Recently, as I was doing my extensive research for these little excursions, I was on my way to the refrigerator for another bottle of inspiration when I happened to overhear a report that stated pop music accounted for only 9% of all record sales. Frankly, I was stunned. All of the fawning media attention given to pop stars and their wares, the seemingly ubiquitous presence of pop music in every facet of American life, it all seemed a little excessive ...


How to Listen to Jazz

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After surviving a near-fatal marriage and returning once again to the Original Geniusdome, the site of some of my best work (remember that really funny thing I wrote about jazz that time?), I recently took some time to reflect upon my contributions to Our Music. As the Dean of American Jazz Humorists©®, I have long considered it my responsibility both to demystify some of the more esoteric aspects of jazz and to loosen the death grip of the zealot so ...