Jazz

Listen.

As legend has it, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were struggling, young writers who spent their days pumping out poems and novels that they couldn’t get published, and their nights commiserating in Greenwich Village, listening to jazz. Finally, one night, after a particularly rousing set by Charlie “Bird” Parker, someone in the group–some say it was Kerouac, and others Cassady–had an epiphany, and posed the question to his chums: "What if we try to write the way that Bird sounds?” The young writers found their voice that night, and of course went on to become the Beat Poets, who were as iconic as any literary figures in 20th century American literature. Content [...]

All That Jazz

Of Dizzy Gillespie’s many jazz compositions, none is more infectiously catchy than Manteca. First performed in 1947, the song–named for the Spanish word for lard– memorably opens with the stand-up base playing a Cuban-influenced riff, and builds to a rousing climax by the horn section. The music critic Gary Giddins hails Manteca as ‘one of most important records ever made in the United States.” It is also a tribute to the power of diversity. Gillespie’s hard-living Cuban drummer, Chano Pozo, wrote the unusual opening baseline, and the layered melodies that were staples of Latin jazz at that time. Known for his bent trumpet, puffy-jowled showmanship, and association with Charlie “Bird” Parker, Gillespie, who was African-American, wrote the bridge, and [...]