Gary Giddins

Gary’s Contributions

May 2009    Cadenza

Lost in Transition

The middle 1960s were strong years for jazz. The writing was not yet engraved on the wall: rock ’n’ roll had morphed into rock and soul, redefining the entire popular music landscape, but jazz musicians continued to operate with the confidence of artisans...

January/February 2009    Cadenza

Of Mutts & Melting Pots

A Brazilian gem, Adriana Calcanhotto, is a highlight of the Barcelona Jazz Festival

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December 2008    Cadenza

Jump for Gioia

For sheer emotional resonance, the highlight of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters ceremony-concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall, in October, was probably the opening procession, as past and present recipients of the $25,000 prize...

November 2008    Cadenza

The Devil’s Reading

Serious blues writing got a powerful if naively researched jumpstart with the still indispensible, late-’50s and early-’60s books of Sam Charters and Paul Oliver, the latter in England, where by the early 1970s it was also possible to find Robert Johnson...

October 2008    Cadenza

Summer Nights

Between the JVC Jazz Festival in New York and Umbria Jazz in Perugia, Italy, there was much to treasure and contemplate, including a few surprises mixed in with the anticipated highs. Having set out not to take notes at events I initially had no intention...

September 2008    Cadenza

Movie Shoots, Jazz Scores

Last year, I commented here about the hit-and-mostly-miss tradition of movies with jazz or jazz-related stories. I neglected to discuss another, more successful tradition: movies with scores by jazz or jazz-influenced composers that may have little or nothing...

August 2008    Cadenza

Player Piano Man

The magnificent Art Tatum album, Piano Starts Here, which combines his first four solo recordings from 1933 with a slightly abridged version of his 1949 Shrine Auditorium concert, has been chosen as the second “re-performance” release in a series created...

June 2008    Cadenza

Jazz’s Other Louis

A few months ago, I interviewed Sonny Rollins on stage at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center (you can hear it at www1.cuny.edu/forums/podcasts/). Surveying his early years, Rollins said, “My first idol was a chap named Louis Jordan. Now Louis...

April 2008    Cadenza

Tippin’ the Scales

Most musicians don’t look much different on the bandstand than at ease. In the throes of creation, their cheeks may be distended or flushed and their eyes squeezed or closed, but they don’t undergo a complete transformation. Horace Silver is not most musicians...

March 2008    Cadenza

Shipp Shape

Bet on it: Just about every Matthew Shipp album will spur someone to write that it is more accessible than its predecessors, an observation that says more about the observer than Shipp, who has never been all that inaccessible. His reputation for obscurity...

January/February 2008    Cadenza

Re-Experiencing Jaki

In 1978, a large Third Avenue storefront that couldn’t keep tenants for more than a year or two reopened as a restaurant called Blue Hawaii. The place was so spacious that a good night in a normal restaurant meant half capacity at Blue Hawaii—and it was...

December 2007    Cadenza

Goin’ Down South

Sometimes you have to leave home to find yourself most at home. My recent trip to Brazil, culminating with the sixth annual Festival Tudo é Jazz in Ouro Preto (Sept. 13-16), provided a too brief but intense immersion in the marvels of Brazilian jazz, yet...

November 2007    Cadenza

A Life of Reinvention

Max Roach, the most ingenious drummer to rise with and define the nature of modern jazz, died on August 16. The news was hardly unexpected: He was 83 and had long battled that dreadful disease, Alzheimer’s. He rarely recorded or appeared in public during...

September 2007    Cadenza

Projecting Jazz

It would be easier to grouse about the paucity of great—or good or tolerable or watchable—jazz-themed feature films if Hollywood had done any better by classical music or rock. It hasn’t. Most American musicals, from The Jazz Singer and The Broadway Melody...

July/August 2007    Cadenza

Pilgrim’s Progress

When he had the wind in his sails, which was pretty often during a tragically curtailed career (he died at age 33 from complications incurred in a car accident), Chu Berry was a terror. Few musicians combine, as effortlessly and consistently as he, fearless...

June 2007    Cadenza

Oliver Overhauled

The conductor Otto Klemperer once said, “Listening to a recording is like going to bed with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe.” Recordings have long been demonized—accused of destroying amateurism and live music, promoting soul-killing perfectionism, cheapening...

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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.