Wednesday, June 22, 2016
12 Stompin At The Savoy
What is jazz?
I am asked this again and again.
The topic of jazz is especially confusing to anyone who takes Ken Burns seriously.
Burns, the author of the supposedly definitive book, “Jazz,” failed to mention such important historic jazz icons as Chet Baker, Bing Crosby and Mel Torme in his manuscript, which was later turned into a similarly exclusionary TV documentary series. And that’s just for starters.
He ridiculed Paul Whiteman, George Gershwin and Benny Goodman, all pioneers in bringing jazz to the mainstream in the early part of the 20th Century.
And what of Rogers & Hart, Kurt Weill, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and other composers who turned Broadway into the biggest stage jazz music has ever seen? Or Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Oscar Levant, who sang, danced and acted their way into the history books to the accompaniment of the greatest music ever written?
Or Kay Thompson, MGM’s vocal coach, who incorporated the idiom of jazz in her arrangements for movies like “Funny Face” and “Meet Me In St. Louis?”
And what of Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and countless others – possibly mentioned in passing, but given short shrift.
Not… Read the full story »