Genius Guide to Jazz

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

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Call Me the Breeze: Dave Douglas and Donny McCaslin Play Lynyrd Skynyrd

Read "Call Me the Breeze: Dave Douglas and Donny McCaslin Play Lynyrd Skynyrd" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

"Play some Skynyrd." Anyone who has ever performed anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line has heard these words, usually yelled towards the stage by someone whose blood alcohol content is approaching whole numbers, no matter what kind of music they play or where they may be performing. When the inevitable happened recently to Dave Douglas and Donny McCaslin, who were playing a gig in Tallahassee, Florida, they both thought, “Yeah, why not?" Call Me the Breeze ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

My Guitar

Read "My Guitar" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

This Christmas marked a very important anniversary in the history of Your Own Personal Genius. Thirty years ago, I received a gift that would change the course of my life forever: a Korean-made Starforce Strat-copy guitar, along with a small Fender practice amp. I got with it a small book of basic blues scales, plus 12-bar and 8-bar blues structures. It was all I needed to start me on an adventure that has lasted three decades and counting. The only ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Jazz in 1's and 0's

Read "Jazz in 1's and 0's" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

If one were to happen by the GeniusDome, providing you could navigate the gauntlet of traps and snares leading to the door and pass muster by my parakeet Al Neri, you'd be greeted warmly and welcomed into my inner sanctum. You'd notice a veritable forest of guitars, an inexplicable collection of hot sauces and Barbecue sauces, empty Coke Zero bottles, and racks upon racks of DVDs. You'd see the vaunted Magic Chair, where Your Own Personal Genius relaxes when away ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

2018 Gift Guide

Read "2018 Gift Guide" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

With the holidays just around the corner (not that corner, the next one, past the bank), you may find yourself in the midst of a panic. There's so much to be done, from decorating to cooking to shopping, when will you find time for it all? Don't panic. While we here at All About Jazz might not be able to supply all the answers, we can certainly help with some of the load. Like what to get your Jazz-loving friends--or ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Top 10 Moments in Jazz History

Read "Top 10 Moments in Jazz History" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

10. In 1956, while in the throes of kicking his heroin addiction and late for a gig, Miles Davis picks up a small black snake that had wandered into his Missouri home and--thinking it is just a hallucination--mistakes for a clip-on tie. He completed the gig wearing the snake, which started a trend of Jazz musicians wearing skinny black ties that continues to this day. 9. The Buddie Petit New Orleans Jazz Band are performing in a poorly ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Rising Stars: Wondrous Woman

Read "Rising Stars: Wondrous Woman" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

For those of you who may not be aware, Your Own Personal Genius was once a fresh-faced music major at Mars Hill University in North Carolina. My principal instrument was euphonium (I also had a minor in trombone). Later, I left to study Jazz with Ellis Marsalis during his residency at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a double-threat Classical euphoniumnist/Jazz trombonist, I discovered two things early on: 1) There was virtually no demand for my talents, which is why I ended ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

A Day at AAJ

Read "A Day at AAJ" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

One of the main benefits of being the Dean of American Jazz Humorists©, besides a free Orange Julius whenever I want one (at participating locations) and 2-for-1 Redbox rentals, is my unfettered access to the inner workings of the entire Jazz universe. As a member of AAJ's Inner Sanctum, I am no more than three degrees of separation from anyone involved in Jazz. Anyone. From legendary artists to the bartender at the Village Vanguard. Of course, I could ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Rising Stars: The Beginning of the Han Dynasty

Read "Rising Stars: The Beginning of the Han Dynasty" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

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 ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Preferential Treatment

Read "Preferential Treatment" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

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: ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Jazz Lovers Series: Hugh Hefner

Read "Jazz Lovers Series: Hugh Hefner" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

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.

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

How the Other Half Swings

Read "How the Other Half Swings" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

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 ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Trumpet From On High

Read "Trumpet From On High" reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius

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 ...