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Final Chorus: Unsung Jazz Messengers

When I heard, in Nov. 2005, that Concord Records had bought Fantasy Records, I called Concord’s owner, Norman Lear (creator of All in the Family and other television breakthroughs). Since we’re both civil libertarians, Lear and I had spoken before in connection with people for the American Way (which he founded) and his tour of the nation a few years ago with a very rare contemporary copy of the Declaration of Independence.

This time I called to urge Lear to keep the Fantasy catalog intact, with its extensive treasures of timeless jazz recordings on Riverside, Prestige, Milestone, Norman Granz’s Pablo, Les Koenig’s Contemporary, Charles Mingus’ Debut, et al. The music, I told him, embodied the very spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

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Originally Published
Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Over more than 60 years, Nat Hentoff (1925-2017) wrote about music, politics, and many other subjects for a variety of publications, including DownBeat (which he edited from 1953 to 1957), the Village Voice (where he was a weekly columnist from 1958 to 2009), the Wall Street Journal, and JazzTimes, to which he regularly contributed the Final Chorus column from 1998 to 2012. Of the 32 books that he wrote, co-wrote, or edited, 10 focus on jazz. In 2004, Hentoff became the first recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters award for jazz advocacy.