Since 1941 Antioch University has published this quarterly literature journal. Typical issues include essays, short stories, poems, book reviews and articles about literature. Cartoons are often featured and there's an annual fiction issue.
The Review has rarely included jazz as a theme, a terrific exception being Gary Giddins' Spring, 1998 essay on Coleman Hawkins. Why now? Among the reasons cited by editor Robert Fogarty are the music's growing cultural respectability, its development into "our national anthem" and this year's Duke Ellington centennial.
This special issue contains fifteen articles and essays. Given the journal's traditional focus it's no surprise that many of these address the intersection of music and literature, including some of our greatest writers - Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Claude McKay, Hart Crane and Jack Kerouac. Articles on the latter two writers treat an intriguing topic - their attempts to use a "jazz approach" to writing.
For me the real creative gem of this issue is Ishmael Reed's "The C Above High C". This two act play takes as its starting point Louis Armstrong's 1957 criticism of President Eisenhower's inaction on civil rights. It's a great mixture of humor and political satire, including Armstrong, two of his wives, Eisenhower, his mistress, the first lady and J. Edgar Hoover. The issue's most important essay is "Where's the Jazz Audience?" by jazz programmer and journalist Willard Jenkins. Presenting data from a 1982 NEA survey in which 43 million Americans stated that they like jazz, Jenkins examines the roles of listeners, radio programmers, publications and artists in working to realize the potential of such a trend. This eight page article should be widely disseminated, discussed, debated and used as a starting point for action.
Other articles and essays are saxophonist Erica Kaplan's wonderful profile of Melba Liston, Michael Woods' reflections on Miles Davis and Bill Evans, Gerald Early's thoughts on Coltrane's status as icon, Patricia Willard's "Dance, the Unsung Element in Ellingtonia" and very personal pieces on the dynamics of drumming and poetry and "An Evening at the Blackstone" with Clark Terry, Louis Bellson and Red Holloway. Melinda Kanner presents an excellent guide to nineteen recent books on jazz.
Readers who are not used to academic-style journal articles may find the ones on literature and Martha Bayles' "What's Wrong with Being Classical?" pretty tough going. But if you persevere each of these articles has interesting information and insights. Like a record sampler, there's something (many things, actually) here for everyone. I also think Antioch should be applauded for bringing us authors other than the familiar names of the big jazz publications
Available from The Antioch Review, P.O. Box 148, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387; phone 937-767-6389.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.