Interview: Will Friedwald (Part 1) - JazzWax

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November 02, 2010


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Ed Leimbacher

Wherever there's Will, there's way more wit and well-supported opinion than other critics can bring to the concert, cabaret or club. His previous books were masterful; this one sounds like his masterpiece. Over 800 pages? Pshaw, a mere bagatelle when he's telling the tale. Like Pauline Kael in days of yore, you enjoy reading Friedwald even when you disagree--maybe especially then. Plus he's a punny guy; listen and ye shall hear.


Jo Stafford's greatest contribution might be the series of albums that she and her husband did as "Johnathan & Darlene Edwards." Each one parodies a different genre of music as performed by inept and/or disinterested musicians. But they are far more than simple slapstick. No one ever sang more exquisitely out of tune than Darlene. I'd suggest the "Best of..." compilation.
Tony Bennett came pretty close to pure jazz on the albums he made for his own short-lived "Improv" label. Check out the swinging, spontaneous interaction between Tony, Ruby Braff, and George Barnes on the Rodgers & Hart album!
"Alexandria the Great" is a very fine album, but there's an obscure Japanese Sony that easily surpasses anything else I've heard by her: "One and Only Love" with Flanagan, Mraz, and Foster.


It's hard to be impressed by a vocal jazz critic who sees little to favor in Helen Merrill.

John P. Cooper

Jo Stafford's greatest contribution might be the series of albums that she and her husband did as "Johnathan & Darlene Edwards."

No chance of that.

They may have been her greatest contribution to the comedy singing genre, though.

Nuff said.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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