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Columns

Short, often opinionated pieces by JazzTimes’ editor and other trusted contributors.

Duke Ellington: Artist of the Century

…Duke Ellington? Ellington, like Armstrong, was one of the inarguable sequoias of the music, easily the one who most developed his talent in every direction. While Louis Armstrong is surely the greatest of all jazz players, Ellington is the greatest of all jazz musicians. Armstrong laid down everything anyone had to know if he or … Read More “Duke Ellington: Artist of the Century”

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Final Chorus: Bix Beiderbecke and the First Amendment

One of Louis Armstrong’s fondest memories was of after-hours sessions at the Sunset Café in Chicago. When the last customers had left, the musicians locked the doors and jammed. One of them was Bix Beiderbecke. “You take a man with a pure tone like Bix’s,” Louis said of one of his favorite hornmen, “and no … Read More “Final Chorus: Bix Beiderbecke and the First Amendment”

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Final Chorus: Inside the Ellington Band

No organization anywhere in the world has devoted as much space and care in illuminating the Duke Ellington Centennial as Jazz at Lincoln Center: Continuous concerts of his music across this country and others, panel discussions, and an Essentially Ellington High School Band Competition. For me, exhilarated by Ellington since I was eleven years old, … Read More “Final Chorus: Inside the Ellington Band”

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JT Notes: Open Ears and Minds

It’s been said that writing is an exercise in futility. According to writer Mary Gordon, Beckett kept a card tacked to the wall adjacent to his desk. The card said, “Fail. Fail Again. Fail better.” Certainly the writers contributing to our cover piece can attest to that sentiment and we’re grateful for their candor in … Read More “JT Notes: Open Ears and Minds”

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Final Chorus: The Rainbow of American Music

In Shared Traditions/Southern History and Folk Culture (University of Illinois Press), Charles Joyner tells of the first widely popular star of country music, Jimmie Rodgers (“the singing brakeman”). This white Mississippian grew up absorbing black blues and gospel music, and they are deeply intertwined with his white heritage in his recordings. Bob Wills, who created … Read More “Final Chorus: The Rainbow of American Music”

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Final Chorus: Bruce Ricker’s Visual Jazz

The jazz community- musicians, record companies,club owners, and critics- should present an evening tribute to jazz film maker Bruce Ricker. And some of the musicians whose images he has preserved for future generations of viewers could add live visual music that night-all of them to be paid, of course. I first was introduced to Ricker’s … Read More “Final Chorus: Bruce Ricker’s Visual Jazz”

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Final Chorus: He Brought the Blues from the Country to the City

Some nights, during the 1950’s, walking down the stairs to Birdland, billed as “the jazz center of the world,” I had a sense of what it felt like to be in the face of a hurricane. From below, the physical impact of the Count Basie band in full cry almost pushed me against the wall. … Read More “Final Chorus: He Brought the Blues from the Country to the City”

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