It's impossible to know whether jazz would have as many fans today without writer/critic/producer Nat Hentoff. Probably not, and I imagine that jazz fans would be a lot less informed about the music. Fortunately, Nat, 88, was (and is) around and documented not only the music starting in the 1950s but also the personalities. Nat invented jazz journalism—the art of asking questions and using the answers to build an engaging and poetic narrative. He was way ahead of the curve in that regard, considering that most jazz writers in the 1950s were publicists, trade writers and assorted phrase-turners. Now a new documentary on Nat—Out of Step, directed by David L. Lewis—gives us a candid portrait of the jazz scribe in winter. The film will open at New York's IFC Center on June 25 and at Los Angeles's Laemmle Music Hall on July 4. The Pleasures of Being Out of Step will be released on DVD this fall. For more information and other cities where the documentary will be shown, go here.
Big band at the Lighthouse. If you're in Los Angeles on Sunday (June 1), go catch the Mike Barone Big Band at the Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach. Mike's band is fabulous and you'll get to hear how a tight, swinging jazz orchestra used to sound back in the 1950s. For more information about the gig and directions, go here.
John Coltrane, 1965. Following my post on John Coltrane's performance of A Love Supreme, Steve Barrow of Somerset, England, sent along his program from the concert, which he attended.
Joe Henderson radio. My boy "Symphony Sid" Gribetz will host one of his award-winning, five-hour Jazz Profiles on Sunday on WKCR-New York—this time on saxophonist Joe Henderson. Sid will start spinning at 2 p,.m. (EDT) and finish at 7. You can listen on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here.
Happy birthday Marty Napoleon! Marty will be 93 on June 2. Marty replaced Earl "Fatha" Hines in Louis Armstrong's All Stars in 1952 and worked extensively with Gene Krupa. For more on Marty, read my JazzWax interview series here.
The Civilized Cinema. Safety Last (1923), a silent film starring Harold Lloyd, changed movie-audience expectations. Starting at 53:49 below, the movie took a odd turn and tried something different—the hair-raising ending, resulting in one of the most famous scenes of the silent era. The chills-and-thrills ending would become a model for almost all action films going forward. Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor. For more on the iconic ending, go here. Here's Safety Last...
Oddball album cover of the week.
Hopefully this one is a play on words, because if the album truly features music for cooking on a gas range, they must have had a field day with the song choices: Blue Flame, Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy and Yardbird Suite would be about right.