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Opinion

OPINION

Jazz and Assault Rifles: A Peace Barrage

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I just participated in the March 24 “March for Our Lives" event in Philadelphia, one among many cities where the Parkland, Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootout led to a large turnout of people advocating for an end to school violence and greater gun control, including, for many, the banning of assault rifles. You may think this violence-preventing effort has nothing to do with jazz, but I think of jazz as an antidote to violence of all kinds, a ...

OPINION

Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive

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No surprise that filmmakers want to feature trumpet players in their films. After all, we are a complicated, sometimes volatile and, ahem, sexy cohort. I've written here about the odd character-illogical bent that movies show toward the species, but in this post, I'll restrict myself to analyzing how well filmmakers pull off the act of shooting a character playing the trumpet or cornet. Let me note that, technically, no one is actually playing for the soundtrack while scenes ...

OPINION

NEA Dismantling: Let's Do The Time Warp Again

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In a response to the recent local and national actions demanding that President Trump rescind his proposal to dismantle the NEA/NEH/IMLS, I feel like I'm in a sorta twisted, time-warp. Twenty years ago, in the midst of the 1990s, the very same debate to decimate the NEA by a Republican- empowered Congress took place. Lots of news stories, factoids and even mythology about the benefits and/or wasted resources concerning the Arts and Arts Education clogged the air waves. ...

OPINION

Chuck Berry: 1926-2017

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In the same spirit of the evolutionary question, “What comes after Music," I ask how does one simply acknowledge, if not pay homage, to what is beyond Greatness? The Saturday, March 18th New York Times did not do bad with: “While Elvis Presley was rock's first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like “Johnny B. Goode" ...

OPINION

New York Times Downsizes Jazz Coverage: A Response

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The February 23rd report from the Salon website that the The New York Times has downsized its coverage of live and recorded jazz is quite a shock, and, in my opinion, a poor decision on their part which I hope they will seriously reconsider. Their iconic and highly competent reviewers, Ben Ratliff and Nate Chinen, have left the newspaper, although their reasons for departure aren't clear. Salon cites the reason for the downsizing to be a decline in the number ...

OPINION

Hentoff helped pave way for jazz journalism’s acceptance

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Nat Hentoff's passing last week left me feeling, well, old. Whenever we lose a mentor--a grandparent, a teacher, someone who encouraged us--it's a reminder of our own mortality, that we are, in the parlance of football coaches, the next ones up. I don't feel anywhere near to ready or worthy or capable of assuming even a sliver of Hentoff's prodigious mantle, and yet the only way to honor a mentor is take up their work and carry it ...

OPINION

A giant of jazz journalism silenced

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Nat Hentoff was an old-school intellectual whose favorite topic--whose very touchstone--was, throughout his life, jazz. At one point in the 1990s, Hentoff--who passed of natural causes on Jan. 7--announced that he was giving up writing about jazz to focus on topics that seemed more critical--free speech and civil liberties, which he felt were under constant attack from all ends of the political spectrum. And while he continued to advocate for free speech and civil liberties for the rest ...

OPINION

Joe Cocker 1944-2014

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For all of the boasting that the United States can do being the birthplace of every major popular music genre since 1920, the United States cannot claim the credit for the widespread popularization of this music. That honor goes to Europe, and more specifically, the United Kingdom, who more than any other country, forced the United States to fully appreciate her musical fruits. It was the institutional racism endemic in the United States that prevented artists like Ray Charles, Solomon ...

OPINION

Beatles, Oscars, Grammys & Overachieving: The Best Cliché Ever, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

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So... the awards season is over. From the Golden Globes to the Grammys, the Winter Olympics to the Oscars, it's been a long and winding road. Among people competing for the various honors and annual awards, one of the more popular topics of conversation was: OK, let's say I am the winner--what then? Good question. Of those who believed they deserve the recognition (which is all of them) only those who had previously received one of ...

OPINION

What's Wrong With Today's Live Jazz

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What's wrong with today's live jazz scene? There has been a great deal of whining about the climate for live jazz these days. The complaints are sometimes accompanied by speculation about why jazz seems to have slipped off the radar, particularly in many major cities such as jny: Philadelphia. The complaints, however, are often unaccompanied by suggestions about fixing the problems, or any specific theories about why and how things have disintegrated. Before I go any ...