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The Mule

The latest Crouch controversy

35 posts in this topic

Looking at the controversy objectively, it seems clear to me that JazzTimes has nothing to hide. I find nothing in their actions to indicate he has a legitimate beef. Did anyone not read Nat Hentoff's column in the latest issue? Now, I heartily disagree with old Nat (who I admire tremendously) regarding his take on Crouch's firing - I just think he flat out got it all wrong, focusing on the smokescreen Crouch created and probably not aware of the more mundane but critical issues, such as the inability to make a deadline - but the point is that JazzTimes published Hentoff's column, which included a pretty stinging indictment of JazzTimes over this whole issue! Now that doesn't seem like a magazine that's not up to a little diversity of opinion and self-criticism, does it? Neither does their printing of many "con" letters concerning the firing in the same issue, including one by jazz guitarist Russell Malone.

The sad thing is that through his sensationalist and self-serving rhetoric, Crouch is if anything turning people away from reasonable, meaningful dialogue about an important issue. There IS a problem with racial inequities, in jazz journalism as in many other arenas in the U.S., that seems pretty clear to me. It needs to be confronted. It just so happens that the issue of Crouch's firing has zilch to do with that issue, and by trying to make the connection, Crouch not only discredits himself but will undoubtedly lead many who are turned off by his antics - maybe, for example, those who happen to be white males and are sick and tired of being referred to collectively as "the problem" - to discount or, worse yet, totally avoid the issue of racial disparities in society. Nice move, Stanley.

Whatever Crouch may have been at one time, he comes off as a pompous, boring, and apparently desparate windbag in his recent writings. There are a lot of interesting parallels between his "evolution" and that of Amiri Baraka...people who started off with real promise and talent, channeling some righteous and on-target anger concerning very real inequities in this country, and then in effect de-volved in their professional pursuits (I don't care so much about their personal lives and can't comment on that anyway - so none of this is addressed at these men as people) into something that is sadly quite the opposite - all the outrage with none of the intelligence, and a complete inability to discriminate accurately among various issues to identify those that actually have anything to do with racial politics and those that do not.

Vis a vis the recent "do you believe in a higher power?" thread: if there is such a higher power, and a "hell" as fundamentalists would have us believe, then in that hell, many of the CDs would be recordings of Baraka reading his more recent poetry, and all the tray cards would contain reprints of Crouch's later Wynton Marsalis album liner notes.

Edited by DrJ

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My column was, not suprisingly, an opinion column and was based on the best information available at the time. I admit, I did not call JazzTimes to ask for details about the dismissal. I was more interested in using the Crouch contraversy as a springboard to talk about race and jazz in general. My opinion, generally, is that Crouch makes too much of the race issue. He overstates the racism of jazz critcs (of which I am one, and I do not consider myself racist by any standard), and see conspiracies where none exist. I also think (and I didn't mention it in my article because I didn't think it was relavent) that Crouch is intellectually lazy. His ideas never gel.

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So...what happened to that fellow H. Rap Brown, anyway? :rolleyes:

Basically, he put on a turban, changed his name to Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, shot a sheriff's deputy, and landed in jail for life.

image503686l.jpg

Nice! :blink:

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Stanley Grouch writes a twice weekly column in the NY Daily News about whatever he wants, and they are a prime example of intellectual torpor. frequently they are about whatecer event he went to last night, or his usual stuff about hiphop. They read like something he dashed together in about a half hour without any actual thought. He actually gets paid for this tripe, so he should just shut up and take the paycheck!

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Why do we even give this man the time of day. He is a bore.

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I don't know who's there now, but 30 years ago, the Washington Post had a black jazz writer, Hollie West.

I think Hollie West also used to write for one of the new York papers (not the Times).

As an aside, I think Hollie still lives in the DC area, and I have bought numerous LPs from him over the last few years, although I seem to have lost touch with him. Great guy to deal with, and his records are ALWAYS in stone cold mint condition. The owner of one of the local records stores, Orpheus Records, even gave Hollie his own condition grade: He said there is Very Good Plus, Near Mint and then "Hollie West."

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I think it's pretty evident that the Washington Post jazz guy is a freelancer, named Mike Joyce. Maybe when Stefan was writing, that was different. I think two important black figures in DC jazz writing and jazz journalism in general are Willard Jenkins and John Murph (both of whom write for both JT and DB; while Murph also contributes to the Washington City Paper). I get the feeling Jenkins is hip to mostly older stuff though I know he digs a lot of the young guys today, but the real sleeper is Murph, whose writing is really heavy stuff. He is so clear and makes his arguments very fair to all parties involved. He is the one who took the middle ground in the debate they had in Jazztimes (I think) over whether the Bad Plus is really that good.

But another thing people need to know about Murph is that he is totally into electronica, hip hop, and other contemporary music. As one can easily see, he is very conversant in DJ culture based on his recent articles for Jazztimes. Thus, he has a credibility that Crouch (unfortunately) wholeheartedly eschews - because hip hop necessarily protrays "black youth...as truly 'authentic' in the most illiterate, vulgar, anarchic and ignorant manifestations." BULLSHIT, Stanley. Here he shows the silly assumptions he has made about all hip hop and rap. Stanley, you should know that a lot of the underground stuff and the old school stuff especially, is full of socio-political awareness and commentary - something which I personally see very little of today from jazz musicians, by the way. Hip hoppers who aren't on MTV seem to me to be the true vanguard of enlightened thought from the streets, as far as I can tell.

But what do I know? I'm a white kid from the suburbs? I don't have a right to make these comments...

Back to the topic at hand:

Murph and other young writers, both black and white, are serving right now as a vital link (previously unheardof in the mainstream jazz press) with the potential to bring the underground bohemians of the electronica/DJ world to jazz. Murph, preaching from the bully pulpit of a locally read weekly paper has a lot of power in influencing buying habits of yuppies, artisans, and any others who have access to the City Paper.

Nate Chinen is another such individual.

What do you older folks think about bridging the gap between hip hop and jazz? between electronica and jazz?

After all, shouldn't it be a goal for all of us to bring more people to jazz. If we want to support musicians and allow the jazz life to continue for those who have the guts and the chops to live it, should we not be trying to attract new folks to jazz? I know Willard Jenkins and his wife are very concerned with this issue as is the IAJE and the increasingly the JJA.

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Somebody should tell Stanley about the Internet, hip him to the fact that for not very much money he can have a website where he can write whatever he wants anytime he wants and not have to be concerned with things like publication circulation, pesky editors, or even white folks wanting to be in charge.

You bet this wouldn't be updated very often ... :rolleyes: ... and noone else to blame but the (black) webmaster. And no response to get kicks from but the views count and the guestbook - if he would open one.

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I have no problem with bringing more people to jazz but I don't think it's anyone's job to do that. Critics' jobs are to evaluate the things they listen to, and to attempt to bring a reasonable perspective to that evaluation. I no longer think hip hop et al will bring much to jazz except as an external element - with some exceptions jazz people are too far away from hip and hop and vice versa; and as a form of text I don't think hip hop has lived up to its promise -

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I love how a thread about Stanley Crouch has turned into a forum for introducing underground hip hop!

Anyways, there is a white rapper named Aesop Rock, and while he may not be authentic enough, his flow is unreal. His accents on vowels are uttered in an unprecedented manner. He records on a little label based in Minnesota called Definitive Jux (or Def Jux for those in the know). Their other artists who are good include

Another good group is Dead Prez. I posted a link to an article David Adler wrote on them in the New Republic online. Very socially conscious and active.

One dude named Sage Francis is also pretty tight.

Of course, I am always recommending two of the original cats Afrika Bambataa and

KRS-One who are both still at it although KRS-One is still very much an educator in the black community so he has less time to go on tour and stuff like that and Bambataa is just a lunatic but he has the right idea. The zulu nation however is kinda freaky.

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