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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.

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

Top 10 Moments in Jazz History

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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

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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

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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

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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 ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

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: ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

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.

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

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 ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

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 ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

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 ...

GENIUS GUIDE TO JAZZ

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 ...