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ghost of miles

"A Few Words About Jazz" on Night Lights

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Last weekend's "A Few Words About Jazz" Night Lights program is now archived:


This week on Night Lights it’s “A Few Words About Jazz.” Jazz criticism first emerged in the 1930s, accompanied by the rise of “hot clubs” and collector groups, often consisting of young white men who gathered to listen to recordings, argued feverishly over the merits of their favorite players, and pursued an obsessive interest in what came to be known as the science of discography. Some critics, such as Leonard Feather and John Hammond, became agents of influence in the jazz world, promoting musicians in the jazz press, producing record sessions, and organizing concerts. In subsequent decades writers such as Martin Williams and Nat Hentoff continued and extended the work of their predecessors as jazz evolved stylistically and began to be treated as an art music.

Although jazz critics have done much to advance the music throughout its history, they have also often been sources of controversy, particularly in their relationship with musicians and their responses to certain aesthetic directions such as bebop and free jazz. On this edition of Night Lights we’ll hear some of the music that has provoked debate and discussion among critics, ranging from Duke Ellington’s “Reminiscin’ in Tempo” to John Coltrane’s “Chasin’ the Trane” and Wynton Marsalis’ “The Sermon.” We’ll also talk extensively with John Gennari, author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool, a new history of jazz criticism. You can read more about Gennari’s book and peruse his own chosen soundtrack for it here.

Here are more comments from John Gennari that we were unable to use in the broadcast of "A Few Words About Jazz":

The debate over new jazz studies #1

The debate over new jazz studies #2

Parallels with the 1950s

Musician-critic relationships

Critics and racial discrimination

Ralph Ellison on jazz today

Ellison #2

Martin Williams #1

Martin Williams #2

This weekend: "Return to Blue Note: Tony Williams in the Late 1980s."

Edited by ghost of miles

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