Aug 25, 2012 Features
I saw a terrific new play last night called Satchmo at the Waldorf. The play is by the Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout, who has been cited before at Jazz Collector for an article he wrote several years ago called “Can Jazz Be Saved?” This is Teachout’s first play and he’s done a remarkable job of piercing through the public persona of Armstrong and giving us a portrait of the man and musician. Teachout’s writing is aided considerably by the performance of John Douglas Thompson in a dynamic solo effort in which he plays Armstrong as well as his long-time manager Joe Glaser and Miles Davis. The play takes place backstage at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York just several months before Armstrong’s death in 1971. I would hope and expect that most of the readers here at Jazz Collector recognize the genius of Armstrong and his seminal contributions to jazz even though we don’t write about him very often. Indeed, he is not part of the “Jazz Collector Era” we talk about and his records are not often among the collectible Blue Notes and Prestiges that make up the bulk of our postings. But none of the music we love and cherish here happens without him coming first, right?
In Satchmo at the Waldorf Teachout takes us backstage after a performance. He uses the device of Armstrong dictating his life story into a tape recorder, but Armstrong realizes he is in the more comfortable setting of talking directly to an audience. A lot of the play covers the complex relationship between Armstrong and Glaser, which provides some of the dramatic tension that brings good theater to life. There are more than passing references to Armstrong’s relationship to the boppers, particularly Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, and the deep pain and injustice he felt at being called an Uncle Tom.
Tags: Dizzy Gillespie, Gordon Edelstein, Joe Glaser, John Douglas Thompson, Miles Davis, Satchmo at the Waldorf, Shakespeare & Company, Terry Teachout, The Long Wharf Theater, The Waldorf Astoria, The Wall Street Journal
Interesting article in The Wall Street Journal on Rudy Van Gelder, New Jersey Jazz Revolution. Here’s an interesting quote about Alfred Lion that kind of summarizes why Blue Note tends to be the more collectible label versus Prestige: ”Alfred was rigid about how he wanted Blue Note records to sound. But Bob Weinstock of Prestige was more easygoing, so I’d experiment on his dates and use what I learned on the Blue Note sessions.”
Aug 13, 2009 Features
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day entitled “Can Jazz Be Saved?” It cites a bunch of statistics showing that the audience for jazz in the U.S. is both dwindling and aging, which is not a good combination. It’s somewhat of a sad commentary on the state of the jazz scene in America, but it does ignore the other reality that jazz is still revered and treasured to a much greater degree in Europe and Asia. It also talks about jazz following the route of classical music, in the sense that it is now viewed a an art form of high culture. I thought it might be interesting to share with everyone. In a way, the article supports what we’re seeing in the jazz collectibles market — the belief that jazz is a high art form and its history should be cherished and preserved: Thus, the subsequent rise we’re witnessing in prices for the original artifacts.
Tags: The Wall Street Journal