Sunday Wax Bits - JazzWax

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April 03, 2011


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Alan Kurtz

After citing a lineup of jazz musicians who were heroin addicts during the late '40s and early '50s, you write, "But the law was probably unfairly hard on musicians and not nearly as understanding as it was toward Hollywood stars and starlets in the same predicament."

Are you implying that some Hollywood stars and starlets back then were heroin addicts? I know that in 1948 Robert Mitchum was busted for marijuana possession. But I hadn't heard of heroin-addicted Hollywood stars from that period.

Was it covered up by the studios? If so, it's been 60 years. I know Sunday Wax Bits doesn't go for tabloid-style exposés. But perhaps for educational purposes, you can share the names of movie stars who received legal leniency for heroin abuse. It would lend credence to your suggestion that musicians were unfairly prosecuted.

Doug Zielke

Glad you mentioned "Live 365", Marc. In my search to replace the dull and repetitive jazz programming on XM/Sirius channel 70, I've been listening to a lot of internet radio. After I listened to Live 365 for a couple of days, I subscribed and cancelled Satellite radio for good. Along with, Live 365 is a treasure trove of great jazz for little or no money.

Bill Kirchner

The Rushing clip is from "The Sound of Jazz," the one-hour 1957 CBS-TV show that is generally considered one of the finest jazz videos ever made.

Alex Skolnick was a composing/arranging student of mine at The New School a decade ago. He was a heavy-metal guitarist of considerable reputation (with the band Testament) who fell in love with jazz in his late '20s and went back to school to study it seriously. Since his graduation, Alex has done several fine CDs with his own guitar trio, bringing a jazz sensibility to contemporary pop tunes.

T.K. Tortch

O.K. this is nitpicking, but -- it seems remarkable that anybody was blaming Communist China for encouraging drug addiction in the U.S. in the late '40's, as China didn't officially go Communist until late 1949, just months after Mao decisively won the civil wars there. After Korea, though, I can see it -- (Manchurian Candidate, anyone?).

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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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