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December 05, 2010


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Jon Foley

Spotted in the band in the Johnny Staccato clip: Red Norvo, vibes; Pete Candoli, trumpet; Barney Kessel, guitar; Red Mitchell, bass; Shelly Manne, drums. Not a bad little group!

Peter Sokolowski

John Bunch on piano.

And Cassavetes looking like the model for "Mad Men" fashion...

Bill Kirchner

Thanks to you and Ed Leimbacher for the "Johnny Staccato" posting. Some of my earliest memories of TV and music involve cop shows like "Peter Gunn" and forgotten also-rans like "M Squad," "Staccato," "Dan Raven," and "Richard Diamond, Private Detective".

I think that "Peter Gunn" holds up best from both writing/acting and musical perspectives. It had an understated ("cool," if you will) quality that the others lacked. The "Staccato" segment, for example, has an over-the-top vibe that invites parody (and received it years later on shows like "Police Squad" and films like "The Naked Gun").

Ian Carey

Regarding the "some people just don't like jazz" phenomenon (I'm being optimistic and using "some" instead of "most"), all baggage aside, I think for some folks it just doesn't push the buttons (or pushes the wrong buttons), kind of like how some people enjoy cilantro while others, through no fault of their own, think it tastes like soap.

My musical cilantro is reggae--I can completely understand why some people are really into it but it makes me want to put my fist through the nearest television. We just have to extend the same no-accounting-for-taste mentality to jazz, I guess.


Well, some people are a little confused as to what jazz actually is -- I remember about fifteen years ago some folks came over to my apartment after we were all out at a bar -- I switched on the stereo & I had a Mingus record on -- I forget which one. A rather tatted-out gothy punk rock girl I knew came over to me after a while and said "what is this that's playing -- I really like it." "Charlie Mingus", sez I. "Oh. Well, what kind of music is it?" After staring for a second, I said "Jazz!!". Says she: "This is JAZZ music? I thought all that stuff sucked!!" On questioning, I figured out that for her, "jazz" = Kenny G and his smooth ilk. So. You never know what they're thinking of when you mention jazz music!!

Ed Leimbacher

As one who loves Jazz AND Reggae AND cilantro too, maybe the recipe for Ian's culinary innocents is a Ja-Mex restaurant serving salsa and chips, Red Stripe beer, and Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin on the box. Familiarity breeds contentment, not contempt. Or put another way, sf great Ted Sturgeon claimed that 90% of everything is $#!+. Find the 10% that isn't.

Marco Romano

Ed has it right.

John P. Cooper

Yep - same as poster TWN above.

Some people don't really know what Jazz is....any kind of Jazz. Or they heard some 'bad' Jazz....and that was enough forever.

And some people have very untrained ears. A friend of mine, an intelligent man, said he could not follow the melody as it switched from the sax section to the brass section.

Plus side - with the emergence of Youtube, more younger and older people are hearing Jazz they never heard of and liking it.

A good thing!

Michael Steinman

Fascinating responses to the oddly passive-negative reaction to jazz. I, too, wonder what people have actually heard: a dull cocktail pianist playing WALTZ FOR DEBBY badly, a local "Dixieland" band chugging through SAINTS, or a lengthy "modern" excursion. I gather that many people find jazz a closed system, impossible to puzzle out without a good deal of work. The formulaic reaction of people who love and breathe the music is to say, "Oh, those young folks -- they can't feel the rhythm anymore," and that is true, based on my observation at New York City jazz bars that, almost by accident, have a young audience. But I just saw something on YouTube, blessed YouTube, that I have to add to the discussion. It was a video done in the last month at a shall-be-nameless jazz / ragtime festival: two performers who swung so hard and so joyously that I couldn't sit still at the monitor. But on the third or perhaps the fourth viewing I noticed that no one in the audience -- and they were all fifty-plus, presumably jazz fans who'd come there of their own volition -- NO ONE was moving his or her body. Oh, they applauded at the end, all right, but the rocking music didn't produce a rocking audience. Hard to fathom. Who can say? Thanks, Marc, and alas . . .

don frese

Actually, Elmer Bernstein is stealing in the Johnny Staccato theme--but it is from himself, so no harm, no foul. That riff originally was used in the music for Man with the Golden Arm.


TWN: If it has a saxophone in it, it's jazz. If it has a violin, it's classical.

Ed Leimbacher

Geez, Marc's suddenly hosting a chat room; guess I'll play the game too... Record expert David is surely having us on since he probably has samples of Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith, Ray Nance, Stephane Grappelli, and a few other mad fiddlers on his shelves. He might just have Debussy and the other Frenchies who wrote for Adolphe's classical Saxes too.

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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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