Jazz and Drugs in 1960 - JazzWax

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December 15, 2010


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Larry Kart

Some of the more odd and/or amusing comments from the Playboy jazz and drugs panel discussion:

'GILLESPIE: Now you know about how many musicians I know - thousands and thousands. Well, right now I can't think of over five, maybe six or seven musicians who I know are using heroin.'

What? Dizzy, let me introduce you to your trumpet and sax sections.

'B. TAYLOR: I worked with Charlie Parker, and Bird said a couple of times in print that he felt some of his worst performances were when he was under the influence of drugs. And I think this is borne out by some of the records that he made - "Relaxing at Camarillo" and some things like that - and he was in pretty bad condition on some of those records.'

Taylor no doubt means "Lover Man." Bird's playing on "Relaxing at Camarillo" is superb, and the piece is so titled because it celebrates his return from his six-month stay in the California state mental hospital where he was taken after his crack up at the "Lover Man" session. Doesn't give you much faith in Taylor, though.

'C. ADDERLEY: An ounce of heroin in Lebanon costs five dollars. In the United States, that ounce will sell for $6,000.

HENTOFF: There's the free enterprise system.'

Hentoff sure seems to be singing a different tune politically these days.

Finally, the Adderley brothers display uncommon common sense throughout. I particularly like Nat's response after Hentoff used the word "iniquitous."

John Herr

Almost unnoticeable on the lurid cover of Night Train is the name of the author, Kenneth Millar. Under the pseudonym Ross Macdonald, he later found fame writing the Lew Archer series of S Cal detective novels. Or is that why you included this potboiler among yr illustrations?

Doug Zielke

From the article-
"TAYLOR: I think it was Dr. Winick who once said that drug addiction is the only illness he knows of that's treated by the police department."

That is a fact. Even now.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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