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ghost of miles

Greg Tate R.I.P.

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Shocked to learn through Nate Chinen's tweet that Greg Tate has died.  In the pre-Internet days of the late 1980s/early 90s, I used to buy the Village Voice semi-regularly, and always enjoyed his writing there.  Somewhere I've got a copy of Flyboy In The Buttermilk... will have to dig it out for a revisitation,.

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Sorry to hear this news.

R.I.P.

 

Edited by HutchFan

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He did some meaningful work, not the least of which was being one of the first critic to reevaluate 70s Miles.  He made his case with strength and insight, and it stuck.

RIP.

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He did lots of good work, I especially liked his description of Hendrix as 'the R&B sideman's revenge'.  RIP.

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Greg Tate was a heavyweight champion among American cultural critics. There was nobody like him -- not his voice on the page nor the synapses in his brain that made supple and insightful connections nobody else would think of and made them at what appeared to be lightening speed. He once said, "I have come to occupy a somewhat unique position in the constellation of African American writing by keeping one ear to the street, one ear to the academy, and a phantom third hearing organ to my own little artsy-fartsy corner of Gotham and Brooklyn’s Black bohemia." 


As always, the work survives. "Flyboy in the Buttermilk" and Flyboy 2" are an imposing legacy. I read a lot of these pieces in real time in the Village Voice in the 1980s and '90s, and they were an important of my education -- along with the rest of a murder's row of critics and reporters then at the paper: Crouch, Giddins, Hentoff, Newfield, Ridgeway, Gann, Willis, Kerner, Schjeldahl, Ireland, Goldstein. Only in retrospect did I come to realize that for all of Tate's brilliance, he was only six years older than me and I was never going to catch up up to him -- the motherfucker.


I did not always agree with Tate's conclusions -- like, duh, since when is the value of a critic based on whether you always agree with him or her? But he never failed to bring a subject to life in brilliant, singular, and entertaining prose and to illuminate corners of African American culture that I had never considered or made me understand music that I thought I knew from an entirely new angle. He made me see the the world, people, and art differently, more empathetically, and more accurately. This is a big loss. The world was a MUCH more interesting place with Greg Tate in it. Peace to his family and friends.

 

Here's a piece about him from five years ago that's interesting.  https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-critic-who-convinced-me-that-criticism-could-be-art?fbclid=IwAR3jU9CvJCHKsWyATG5x8MDkdPT3WQce9pHS6a39sBTKprf_MqsNXeLU6ss

And here's the man himself, bringing it in 1984 (!) at the insanely young age of 27. https://www.villagevoice.com/1984/09/11/stagolee-vs-the-proper-negro-eddie-murphy-wynton-marsalis-prince/

from 1991 on black identity. https://www.villagevoice.com/2020/06/19/black-like-who-love-and-the-enemy/

From 2006 -- thoughts on black jazz in the digital age. https://www.criticalimprov.com/index.php/csieci/article/download/287/431?inline=1

Edited by Mark Stryker

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Too young! 

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Just ordered the first of the Flyboy books. R.I.P.

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Devastated. The funkiest critic ever, and a major source of inspiration. Rest easy, sir, and thanks.

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