Playboy Symposium, Feb. 1964

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Posted (edited)

In the Nat Hentoff thread down below, I mentioned a 1964 round table discussion on the state of jazz with a stellar panel (Dizzy, Cannonball, Schuller, Mingus, Brubeck, Russell, etc.) that ran for an amazing 17,000 words in Playboy. I found a copy online so I thought I'd post a link here. (I don't think it's been posted previously.)

Fascinating on many levels, including the realization that jazz was still considered relevant and interesting enough to the wider cultural dialogue that a general circulation magazine like Playboy would devote so much space to such a rarified discussion. Such a thing would never happen today. This was, by the way, billed as a special Jazz & Hi-Fi Issue on the cover. FWIW, I found my copy in a used bookstore down by the University of Chicago (forgot the name of the store; it wasn't Powell's) about 6 years ago. No wisecracks, please. The issue just happened to be sitting on the top of a stack in the corner. I really did buy it for the articles! The unnamed moderator is Hentoff, who also wrote a separate overview piece. Anyway, here's the link:

http://www.cannonball-adderley.com/article/playboy2.htm

Edited by Mark Stryker

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Posted

Fascinating on many levels, including the realization that jazz was still considered relevant and interesting enough to the wider cultural dialogue that a general circulation magazine like Playboy would devote so much space to such a rarified discussion.

Not fascinating at all. The whole point of Playboy was that it was supposed to be a sort of road map to sophistication for the postwar male. Jazz was a part of that sophistication.

What IS fascinating is that the mastermind who dreamed this up now surrounds himself with a bunch of bimbos with boob jobs and bad plastic surgery. I thought he had better taste than that.

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Posted

Very interesting piece. Thanks.

MG

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What IS fascinating is that the mastermind who dreamed this up now surrounds himself with a bunch of bimbos with boob jobs and bad plastic surgery.

The Department of Redundancy and Repetition Department awards you a Gold Star, along with an emblem with five points, star-shaped, gilded.

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Posted

"a bunch of bimbos with boob jobs and bad plastic surgery."

I thought he meant that as a POSITIVE thing -

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Posted

What IS fascinating is that the mastermind who dreamed this up now surrounds himself with a bunch of bimbos with boob jobs and bad plastic surgery.

The Department of Redundancy and Repetition Department awards you a Gold Star, along with an emblem with five points, star-shaped, gilded.

:g

But the key word in TTK's post is "now". Wasn't it ALWAYS this way for Hefner?

MG

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Posted (edited)

Fascinating on many levels, including the realization that jazz was still considered relevant and interesting enough to the wider cultural dialogue that a general circulation magazine like Playboy would devote so much space to such a rarified discussion.

Not fascinating at all. The whole point of Playboy was that it was supposed to be a sort of road map to sophistication for the postwar male. Jazz was a part of that sophistication.

What IS fascinating is that the mastermind who dreamed this up now surrounds himself with a bunch of bimbos with boob jobs and bad plastic surgery. I thought he had better taste than that.

To be clear, what's fascinating to me are the specifics discussed by the participants, the perspective from the trenches in 1964 viz. our view today and the fact that jazz has slipped so far off the radar of popular culture. I get that Playboy in its early years offered a road map to sophistication for the post-Eisenhower male; what's intersting is how/why/when jazz fell out of the equation as far as the wider culture was concerned and the degree to which it could/should be restored.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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Posted

[Wasn't it ALWAYS this way for Hefner?

Have you ever had the opportunity to see "Playboy's Penthouse," circa 1960? It was a short-lived variety show that is on DVD (in the US, at least). It's interesting to see Heff during that period and trying to reconcile him with the guy now hanging around all those frightening bags of protoplasm.

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To be clear, what's fascinating to me are the specifics discussed by the participants, the perspective from the trenches in 1964 viz. our view today and the fact that jazz has slipped so far off the radar of popular culture. I get that Playboy in its early years offered a road map to sophistication for the post-Eisenhower male; what's intersting is how/why/when jazz fell out of the equation as far as the wider culture was concerned and the degree to which it could/should be restored.

It was interesting how certain topics, like "Will there ever be a great jazz musician from another country," seem ridiculous now; but other conversations, like the popularity of jazz, have changed little over the decades.

Thanks for posting this, BTW. I collect Playboys up to about 1975 or so, and I'm always interested to read the jazz coverage.

One thing that cracks me up is the yearly jazz poll where they have the cartoon of the imaginary big band. What's funny is, because the general public only knew four trombone players, the trombone section never changes from year to year. They just add muttonchop sideburns and give them ridiculous combovers as they age.

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[Wasn't it ALWAYS this way for Hefner?

Have you ever had the opportunity to see "Playboy's Penthouse," circa 1960? It was a short-lived variety show that is on DVD (in the US, at least). It's interesting to see Heff during that period and trying to reconcile him with the guy now hanging around all those frightening bags of protoplasm.

Never heard of it.

MG

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Posted

[Wasn't it ALWAYS this way for Hefner?

Have you ever had the opportunity to see "Playboy's Penthouse," circa 1960? It was a short-lived variety show that is on DVD (in the US, at least). It's interesting to see Heff during that period and trying to reconcile him with the guy now hanging around all those frightening bags of protoplasm.

Never heard of it.

MG

That PP was only on for a spit, right? My neighbor and I used to stay up late watching Playboy After Dark tho! just waiting and waiting for them all to stop talking and show some protoplasm.

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Posted

One thing that cracks me up is the yearly jazz poll where they have the cartoon of the imaginary big band. What's funny is, because the general public only knew four trombone players, the trombone section never changes from year to year. They just add muttonchop sideburns and give them ridiculous combovers as they age.

I loved those pages! Still have some in my scrap files.

Bill Utterback was the artist. Would love a comp book of his work for Playboy ... right up there with Drucker IMO.

Can't seem to find any images but here is a Kai

Kai-caricature.jpg

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I believe that Kai Winding was the music director for the New York Playboy Club.

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Posted (edited)

Playboy's Penthouse was on for a couple of years 1959-60, maybe 61. Playboy After Dark was a late '60s reincarnation of the show. Those of our more, um, mature board members may have more specific memories. At least in the early years, jazz (and cabaret/adult pop cousins) was integral to the party concept of the show, just as jazz was central to the original Playboy philosophy. Here's some youtube evidence:

Sammy Davis Jr. (at 34, with the whole schmear: full band, singing, dancing, clowning, impressions; when he keeps his focus, it's swinging.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPhdzxytTcU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXnkkK5oldk...feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY-9AbLFewQ...feature=related

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross with Count Basie Trio (with Tony Bennett in the audience)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StDLnFrbi78

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqmUgDUx7o0...feature=related

Cy Coleman (singing "Witchcraft" with a second half chorus that I've never heard. Was this part of the original that Sinatra's arrangement just passed on?)i

("The Best is Yet to Come. Anybody know who the trumpet player is? )

Ella Fitzgerald:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XxhmV5-9pw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWWph2FxwwU

And, good God, just for fun: James Brown on "Playboy After Dark" (dig all the white chicks chanting "I'm black and I'm proud.")

Edited by Mark Stryker

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Posted

In the interview segment before Witchcraft, Cy Coleman states that he wrote that verse AFTER Sinatra's recording.

Cy Coleman comes off as tres hip on that show, BTW.

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Posted (edited)

In the interview segment before Witchcraft, Cy Coleman states that he wrote that verse AFTER Sinatra's recording.

Cy Coleman comes off as tres hip on that show, BTW.

Well, that explains that. Thanks. I don't really know much about Coleman. Looks like a world-class bon vivant -- something to aspire to.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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And, good God, just for fun: James Brown on "Playboy After Dark" (dig all the white chicks chanting "I'm black and I'm proud.")

just letting us know that they weren't really blondes.

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