Gary Giddins

Gary’s Contributions

November 2005    Cadenza

The Battle of New Orleans

The waters that drowned New Orleans are the waters that established the incomparable city as a key port before the railroad replaced shipping as the primary vehicle of trade. They gave New Orleans a unique cultural character, blending elements of the continental...

October 2005    Cadenza

Great Danes

How disconcerting to arrive at Copenhagen Airport in early July, midway through the Copenhagen Jazz Festival (CJF), and run into Joe Lovano and Hank Jones, who had played the previous evening's tribute to Ben Webster and were now flying out. The schedule...

September 2005    Cadenza

Jubilant Power

On June 3, the eve of his 70th birthday, Ted Curson played the night away with Henry Grimes at Greenwich Village’s Cornelia Street Café. With jazz, you never know: A much-hyped event may sink into a slough of expectations and a little-noted one-nighter keep...

July/August 2005    Cadenza

Weep for Wes

Among seminal albums of the 1960s, Wes Montgomery's Smokin' at the Half Note holds a unique place. The 1965 recording represented the guitarist's rare return to small groups; except for an uneven quartet session with Jimmy Smith, it would be his last. Verve...

June 2005    Cadenza

Birds of a Feather

Roy Haynes, opening at the Village Vanguard two days after his 80th birthday, told me that earlier in the day a newspaper editor complained about a new photograph: "This must be old. Don't we have something recent?" Even in person, it's difficult to see...

May 2005    Cadenza

Holiday Seasons

We live under the sway of artists who haunt our lives, who take hold at an early age and never let go; they inform us of our progress in the world as our perceptions of them change. Faulkner once said that Don Quixote had to be read three times, in childhood...

April 2005    Cadenza

Here's Ware

David S. Ware's Live in the World may be a gamble for him and his label, Thirsty Ear, but it's a treasure for his admirers. This three-volume offering (four hours of music) is a thunderous declaration that consists of three quartet performances: a 1998 radio...

March 2005    Cadenza

Last Year's CD Shelf

The past year was strong enough on the CD front to make me want to revisit favorite discs and comment on some of those I feel reasonably certain will remain in my lifetime CD rotation. Unlike my colleagues, who have a superior sense of deadline responsibility...

January/February 2005    Cadenza

Post-Jazz TV

When Ken Burns' Jazz aired in 2001, I figured that its popular acclaim coupled with the complaints of those who faulted it for ignoring the past 40 years (particularly the avant-garde) would unleash a slew of documentaries to set things right. I did hear...

December 2004    Cadenza

Radio Bing

Having grown up in the TV era (you remember: that transitional epoch between radio and the WWW), I've always found old radio a strangely enchanted neverland. If you dig up media reviews from the 1930s and 1940s, you find the same scowls generated by its...

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November 2004    Cadenza

Fresh Flowers for Albert

If art is news that stays news, avant-garde art is news that stays avant-garde. Most radical innovations, however misprized at first, eventually grow to be as warming as Van Gogh's sunflowers. But not all. Some achievements remain on the fringe, requiring...

October 2004    Cadenza

Miles Davis: Seven-Step Program

While collectors, completists and critics lick their chops in gratitude for each installment of Columbia/Legacy's ornate boxation (don't look for that in the dictionary) of Miles Davis, not every fan will feel the necessity to own all the incidental material...

September 2004    Cadenza

Modern Mary

Mary Lou Williams' 1930 "Night Life," not to be confused with the fascinating 1971 variation, "Nite Life," is one of those vital shadow classics that get lost in the indiscriminate reissue parade. It's worth discovering. Williams had recorded intermittently...

July/August 2004    Cadenza

The New Benedettis

My last column discussed institutional archives that collect and inventory materials about jazz, in addition to commercial recordings. Yet the most significant musical finds are hidden in private collections, illicitly snapped out of the air by devoted fans...

June 2004    Cadenza

Collecting the Collectors

The compulsion to collect has inspired a copious literature, ranging from the sublimely sober Walter Benjamin's "Unpacking My Library" ("ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects") to the tabloid hysteria generated by the Collier...

May 2004    Cadenza

Jazz on a Summer's Day

Jazz may be an orphan in the realm of mass media, but it continues to thrive and even rule in the world of outdoor music festivals. Every chamber of commerce from St. Lucia to Finland wants a shot, each of them using jazz to shore up the particular charms...

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About Gary Giddins

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Arguably the world’s greatest living jazz critic, Gary Giddins has earned his field unprecedented credibility in the public sphere. His innovative, unconventional history Visions of Jazz won the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism in 1999, and he’s authored award-winning volumes on Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby. Giddins has won more ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for Excellence in Music Criticism than any other music writer, and his 30-year run authoring the Village Voice’s Weather Bird column yielded some of jazz journalism’s most deftly written and insightful pieces. Giddins’ Cadenza column debuted in JT’s June 2002 issue, and he continues to incite new debates and mine the annals of jazz history here each month.