Category Archives: Jazz

In Memoriam Horace Silver

I feel that I should post something for Horace Silver’s death. I saw him live when I was a college student, and his playing opened me up in a way that I’d rarely, if ever, been opened by live music. … Continue reading

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RIP Tabu Ley Rochereau

Tabu Ley Rochereau, the king of Congolese jazz, has just died. His music feels like a whole joyous world raining around you, with the swirling guitars lines, driving horns, dancing rhythms, and his sweet tenor. He’s one of those artists … Continue reading

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Your Woman Gone Too?

James Baldwin (1962): In all jazz, and especially the blues, there is something tart and ironic, authoritative and double-edged. White Americans seem to feel that happy songs are happy and sad songs are sad, and that, God help us, is … Continue reading

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Big Ben and Danny Boy

The Londonderry Air, the melody of “Danny Boy”: “The most beautiful melody ever,” Linda Ronstadt said. Doesn’t Ben Webster prove that all good melodies are, at root, jazz?

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Mean to Me

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Albert Murray, RIP

Blessings on Albert Murray, who died on Sunday. He devoted a good part of his writing life to reminding us of the complexities of being an American and celebrating the culture, especially the blues, that makes our lives worth living. … Continue reading

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Play On

There’s a belief common to our times that music is a frill. Certain cognitive scientists – based on what I regard as a misapplication of the idea of evolution – believe that music is “auditory cheesecake.” We’re not specifically evolved … Continue reading

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So Why Not Have Another?

Darryl Pinckney on the writer Elizabeth Hardwick’s love of Billie Holiday (Lizzie is Elizabeth Hardwick, Cal is her husband Robert Lowell, the poet). Once, completely blotto, I read aloud Frank O’Hara’s ‘The Day Lady Died,’ and Lizzie said that Cal … Continue reading

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Papa Jo

There is a smile of love, And there is a smile of deceit, And there is a smile of smiles In which those two smiles meet. – William Blake This is wondrous, truly a smile in which all the smiles … Continue reading

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In Memoriam Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief died a few days ago. She was a truly beautiful dancer – just look at her hands alone in this video. She had few equals. Forgive me for striking a somewhat sour note at her death. I was … Continue reading

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