Onward And Upward With Jazz Criticism

For some time--years--I have been bothered by the further deterioration of a craft that too often has not achieved the status of serious criticism. I write, sad to say, of jazz reviewing, in which assignments all too often go to the lowest bidder, or to no bidder. These days, they go less frequently than ever to those who know something about music or are willing to learn about it, or who have qualifications beyond an eagerness to get free records or free admittance. When a Canadian … [Read more...]

Holiday Weekend Extra: What Jazz Is

Asked to define jazz, Louis Armstrong replied, "If you have to ask what it is, you'll never know." That's one answer. Here's another, provided by Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Hank Jones, Rufus Reid and Mickey Roker at Gillespie's 70th birthday concert on October, 21, 1987. The composition is Gillespie's blues "Wheatleigh Hall." In the preamble, Gillespie and Rollins praise one another, then Willis Conover introduces the performance. If you have full-screen capability on your computer, please … [Read more...]

Compatible Independence Day Quotes

(An annual Rifftides reminder) Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.--Benjamin Franklin America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.--Abraham Lincoln … [Read more...]

Sheila Jordan’s Getaway Place

Sheila Jordan has a farmhouse retreat in Upstate New York where the 80-year-old singer goes to develop new music. In The New York Times this week, Lisa A. Phillips wrote a charming story about Jordan and her country life. Here is a sample: "When I come up here," she said, "I feel totally undressed musically. I feel I can try out any kind of idea I have." On her five and a quarter acres of land atop Canady Hill, her only close neighbors have been the cows the farmer next door once kept. "I called … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Out In The Country

If all of July is like this, I'll be a happy cyclist. My Italian friend Vigorelli Bianchi and I did 22 morning miles. The air and light had a crystalline quality more usual In October than summer. The cherry crop looks splendid, loading the trees so heavily that in places the branches bowed low near enough to the road that I could almost have plucked the fruit as I rode by. This is the stage at which cherry growers pray for no rain. Thinners are in the apple trees making room for the fall fruit … [Read more...]