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Invisible American Music

With the exception of Ralph Ellison, John Kouwenhoven and Albert Murray, few major American intellectuals have routinely taken on the subject of jazz. One would think that a music as important to the definition and the achievement of this society would have sparked more than a bit of interest over the years.

The writer David Yaffe reported to me that Ellison himself, on a mid-’60s PBS television program with the jazz critic Martin Williams, observed that one would have thought major critics such as Malcolm Cowley or T.S. Eliot or Alfred Kazin would have had something substantial to say about the music, but they had not.

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Originally Published

Stanley Crouch

Stanley Crouch (1945–2020) was one of the leading American cultural critics of the late 20th and early 21st centuries—and one of the most controversial. A poet, educator, and aspiring jazz drummer in the 1970s, he became a writer for the Village Voice and an artistic consultant to Jazz at Lincoln Center in the 1980s. In subsequent years, he regularly wrote essays, columns, and reviews for a variety of publications, including (from 1999 to 2003) JazzTimes. He was the author of 11 books, including the 1990 collection Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989 and the 2000 novel Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome.