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

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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 will be respected or reviled—often both—but they need to now not be overlooked. And whereas the culture of jazz has been lined from possible each attitude, no one has ever became the pen again on itself to chronicle the numerous writers who've helped outline how we hearken to and the way we comprehend jazz. that's, after all, until eventually now.

In Blowin' scorching and Cool, John Gennari presents a definitive historical past of jazz feedback from the Nineteen 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 in simple terms as writers, yet in lots of situations as manufacturers, broadcasters, live performance organizers, and public intellectuals as well.

For Gennari, the jazz culture isn't really quite a bit a suite 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, category and gender concerns, struggle, and protest that has outlined the previous seventy-five years in the US, Blowin' scorching and Cool brings to the fore jazz's most important critics and the position they've got performed not just in defining the historical past of jazz but in addition in shaping jazz's importance in American tradition and life.

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On the pretext of returning to the city for violin lessons, he scoured Harlem and other black neighborhoods for the latest “race” record releases. In 1931, at the age of twenty-one, with a $10,000-a-year trust fund to ease him through the Depression, Hammond dropped out of Yale, moved to Greenwich Village, and began his work in the music industry. While working for the powerful music publisher and talent manager Irving Mills, Hammond honed his skills as a record producer and wrote about his favored jazz musicians in the British music press, the Brooklyn Eagle, and elsewhere.

Not until “John and I, joined soon by a few others who “Not Only a New Art Form but a New Reason for Living” r 23 perhaps were encouraged by our initiative,” did anyone sidle up close to the bandstand, the better to scrutinize and appreciate the musicians at work. Two young white men without dates, in a room full of good-timing cheer and ecstatic bodily release, position themselves between the musicians and the audience—here, in microcosm, was the Ur-stance of the jazz critic: poised on the seam between artistic creation and popular consumption, close to but also crucially distinct from the dancing mass body, caught up in an imagined sense of privileged intellectual and emotional communion with the music.

20 “For the Race” Such diligence distinguished Hammond not only from the jitterbugs, but also from slummers, middle-class and upper-class whites who prowled African American neighborhoods for exotic entertainment, sexual adventure, and vice. During the “Negro vogue” of the 1920s, Harlem became the focus of white leisure and fantasy, a kind of imagined jungle of forbidden pleasures. There were at least two Harlems in the 1920s: black Harlem, where working-class and middle-class African Americans lived, worked, prayed, and entertained themselves; and—as Kevin Mumford has termed it—an “all-white leisure zone” of establishments where the only African Americans were the entertainers and the service personnel.

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