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The Place of the Bass

In 1947, George Pal made a classic puppetoon called Tubby the Tuba, which was the story of a tuba that wanted to go beyond oom-pahing all night and get the front-line attention given to those horns that played the melody. Dismissed as foolish by a class-conscious French horn, Tubby became despondent until a bullfrog gave him the confidence to believe in his register; the tale ended with him getting the lead after showing the conductor he could croon his stuff. It was another American fable about democratic values.

In the world of jazz, the Tubby issue has two sides: one good, one bad.

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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.