Do the Math reports that jazz writer Richard Cook, co-author of The Penguin Guide to Jazz and author of books about Blue Note Records and Miles Davis, has passed away at the age of 50. Cook was a fine and interesting writer, and I’ve turned to the Penguins many times for insight and information about various artists and albums; it’s the best of the jazz CD guides around. His efforts will be missed.
Pennsylvania has honored native son Art Blakey with a historical marker.
There’s a good article in the August 27 issue of the New Yorker by Alex Ross, discussing Aaron Copland’s political difficulties during the Cold War. (Unfortunately it’s not posted online, so look for it in that oh-so-20th-century form known as printed matter.) Ross paints a portrait of the late 1940s somewhat similar to what I described in a previous post about Allen Lowe’s post-1945 DEVILIN’ TUNE collection: a less-than-triumphant, anxiety-ridden climate in which New Deal populism wasn’t only passe (this past week I was rereading Chandler Brossard’s 1952 hipster novel Who Walk in Darkness, set in 1948, and was struck by the narrator’s mockery of the Thomas Hart Benton-style 1930s murals he sees upon walking into the post office), but also downright suspect. For a Night Lights take on the uneasy meshing of music and politics in the post-World War II era, check out Jazz Goes to the Cold War.