Night Lights Classic Jazz

A Few Words About Jazz: John Gennari’s Blowin’ Hot and Cool

Jazz criticism first emerged in the 1930s and has played a role not only in how the music's been heard, but sometimes in the way it's been made.

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John Gennari Blowin' Hot and Cool

Photo: Book cover

John Gennari, whose book BLOWIN' HOT AND COOL explores the history of jazz criticism, joins us on this edition of Night Lights

A Brief History Of Jazz Criticism

Jazz criticism first emerged in the 1930s, accompanied by the rise of “hot clubs” and collector groups. Critics were often young white men who gathered to listen to recordings, argued feverishly over the merits of their favorite players, and pursued an obsessive interest in what came to be known as the science of discography.

Some critics, such as Leonard Feather and John Hammond, became powerful agents of influence in the jazz world. They promoted musicians in the jazz press, producing record sessions, and organizing concerts. During subsequent decades, writers such as Martin Williams and Nat Hentoff would continue and extend the work of their predecessors as jazz evolved stylistically and began to be treated as an art music.

On The Show

Although jazz critics have done much to advance the music throughout its history, they have also often been sources of controversy, particularly in their relationships with musicians and their responses to certain aesthetic directions (such as bebop or free jazz). On this edition of Night Lights we’ll hear some of the music that has provoked debate and discussion among critics. These tracks include:

  • Duke Ellington’s “Reminiscin’ in Tempo”
  • John Coltrane’s “Chasin’ the Trane”
  • Wynton Marsalis’ “The Sermon.”

We’ll also talk extensively with John Gennari, author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool, a new history of jazz criticism.

You can read more about Gennari’s book and peruse his own chosen soundtrack for it here.

Night Lights outtakes

Here are some comments from John Gennari that we were unable to use in the broadcast of the show.

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Music Heard On This Episode

Change of the Century
Ornette Coleman — Change of the Century (Atlantic, 1960)
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Change of the Century
Ornette Coleman — Change of the Century (Atlantic, 1960)
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Reminiscing in Tempo (Pt. 1)
Duke Ellington — Chronological Duke Ellington 1935-36 (Chronological Classics)
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Black (excerpt)
Duke Ellington — Black, Brown & Beige Suite (Prestige, 1943)
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Ko-Ko
Charlie Parker — Complete Savoy & Dial Masters (Savoy, 1945)

Notes: With Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet (and probably on piano).

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52nd Street Theme
Barry Ulanov's Metronome All-Stars — Why Do I Love You? (Natasha, 1947)

Notes: With Charlie Parker on alto, Fats Navarro on trumpet, Allan Eager on tenor sax, John LaPorta on clarinet, Lennie Tristano piano, Billy Bauer guitar, Tommy Potter bass, and Buddy Rich on drums.

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Panassie Stomp
Count Basie — Complete Decca Recordings (GRP/Decca, 1938)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Incident in Jazz
Stan Kenton — City of Glass (Capitol, 1950)

Notes: Bob Graettinger composition.

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The Preacher
Horace Silver — Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers (Blue Note, 1955)

Notes: With Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Hank Mobley on tenor sax, Doug Watkins on bass, and Art Blakey on drums.

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Chasin' the Trane (excerpt)
John Coltrane — Live at the Village Vanguard (Impulse, 1961)

Notes: With Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums.

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The Sermon (excerpt)
Wynton Marsalis — Majesty of the Blues (Columbia, 1989)

Notes: Words written by Stanley Crouch, spoken by Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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