Blowin' Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics by John Gennari

By John Gennari

Within the illustrious and richly documented historical past of yankee jazz, no determine has been extra arguable than the jazz critic. Jazz critics should be respected or reviled—often both—but they need to now not be missed. And whereas the culture of jazz has been lined from probably each attitude, no one has ever became the pen again on itself to chronicle the various writers who've helped outline how we take heed to and the way we comprehend jazz. that's, after all, till now.

In Blowin' scorching and Cool, John Gennari presents a definitive heritage of jazz feedback from the Twenties to the current. The track itself is fashionable in his account, as are the musicians—from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Roscoe Mitchell, and past. however the paintings takes its form from attention-grabbing tales of the tradition's key critics—Leonard Feather, Martin Williams, Whitney Balliett, Dan Morgenstern, Gary Giddins, and Stanley Crouch, between many others. Gennari is the 1st to teach the various methods those critics have mediated the connection among the musicians and the audience—not purely as writers, yet in lots of instances as manufacturers, broadcasters, live performance organizers, and public intellectuals as well.

For Gennari, the jazz culture isn't really rather a lot a set of recordings and performances because it is a rancorous debate—the dissonant noise clamoring according to the sounds of jazz. opposed to the backdrop of racial strife, classification and gender concerns, warfare, and protest that has outlined the earlier seventy-five years in the US, Blowin' scorching and Cool brings to the fore jazz's most crucial critics and the function they've got performed not just in defining the heritage of jazz but additionally in shaping jazz's importance in American tradition and life.

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Hammond evinced an especially strong animus toward the figure, perhaps because his own kinesthetic reactions to the music were not very different. “Hammond in action is the embodiment of the popular conception of the jitterbug,” said the New Yorker. “When the music jumps, he begins to move his head, his feet, and sometimes his whole body. ” As David Stowe notes, Hammond “angrily disclaimed the jitterbug label,” telling a reporter, “A jitterbug is an exhibitionist, I’m not. ”19 Hammond’s work habits were well captured in a profile in Harper’s by Irving Kolodin, who described the young critic on a routine visit to a jazz club: If the music appeals to him he will listen intently, responding with a transfixed grin and a metronomic movement of the right foot, from a position as close to the bandstand as any nonunion member can achieve.

7 If this widespread sentiment explains why John Hammond found a sympathetic audience in Britain, and why Leonard Feather was able to hatch and nurture his jazz interest there, it also raises the ante on the significance of their pilgrimage to Harlem. For in depositing themselves at the very symbolic center of black culture, these two young white men set spinning a whirling kaleidoscope of race, class, nation, and culture. Here were white cultural colonialists bent on a mission of discovery and resource extraction, their artistic booty to enter circulation among audiences who wouldn’t think of making their own foray into these darker regions.

A Few Words about Jazz r 15 newspapers, college newspapers, jazz appreciation society newsletters, and the like—have flown beneath the radar of my research design, though they richly deserve further study. My central theme—jazz’s canonization as an art—has tilted my focus not just toward elite sources, but toward elite sources in a small number of major urban centers, especially New York. I think this is a necessary bias, given New York’s importance since the 1930s as a cultural capital and a proving ground for musicians and writers alike.

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