main: July 2010 Archives

Harvey Pekar was pissed at me. He told me so himself but I'd seen it coming because, as a parting gift, the outgoing editor of the jazz magazine I'd just taken the reins of had repeated to Harvey my criticisms--all legitimate--of his article about Jazz at Lincoln Center, knowing it would raise his substantial ire. I was "one of those Wynton sycophants," he raged, another "spineless suckup" looking for power and missing the real music. Harvey was wrong. I mean, he was right about the real music--Harvey was more often than not right about music; he had great taste and the knowledge to place it in context. But he was wrong about me: I agreed with his point of view, I just had some issues with the way he'd expressed it in print, with his research or lack thereof.

There was no such thing as a short conversation with Harvey. And boy do I miss that today. Not just because there will be no more conversations with Harvey -- in truth, there haven't been for me in a decade, since I left that gig (yet now there's not even the possibility of another one with him)--but also because the world I've now entered, one filled with emails and texts but little in the way of actual human discourse, is a place Harvey predicted, along with a dozen other dour but spot-on prophecies. Harvey's shit could bring you down if you let it, sure, but it was usually accurate.

Harvey was again incorrect a few calls after that first one, when he called me a "garden variety Jew" in a combative tone when I queried his commentary about Sephardic musical themes. (I think he was reviewing something by Joe Maneri, but it could have been John Zorn. Or maybe neither.) When I explained that my grandfather on my mother's side came from Greece, that I'd been Bar Mitzvahed in a Sephardic temple, landing on t's, not s's at the ends of words, he seemed convinced of my legitimacy as a Jew (if not an editor) of some distinction. 

Things went more smoothly after that. 

July 13, 2010 3:33 PM | | Comments (0)

In honor of Independence Day, what could be more American than playing jazz in the street? Here are two stories of mine along those lines, running today.


The first, for the website Truthdig, talks about brass bands and street musicians in New Orleans--especially some city ordinances that make my blood boil and some signs of reform by city council and Mayor Landrieu that would warm my heart.


The second, for The Wall Street Journal, celebrates the near-half-century legacy of Jazzmobile, a nonprofit that, if you live in New York City, has likely rolled into your 'hood.

July 5, 2010 3:57 PM | | Comments (0)

In honor of Independence Day, what could be more American than playing jazz in the street? Here are two stories of mine along those lines, running today.


The first, for the website Truthdig, talks about brass bands and street musicians in New Orleans--especially some city ordinances that make my blood boil and some signs of reform by city council and Mayor Landrieu that would warm my heart.


The second, for The Wall Street Journal, celebrates the near-half-century legacy of Jazzmobile, a nonprofit that, if you live in New York City, has likely rolled into your 'hood.

July 5, 2010 3:57 PM | | Comments (0)

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