[Dixielandjazz] Studs Terkel and Barrett Deems

Jim Denham james at jiming.demon.co.uk
Wed May 7 05:20:13 PDT 2003

According to the 'Acknowledgements' foreword to Studs Terkel's book, 
'Giants of Jazz':

"I am especially indebted to Jack Tracy, editor of Downbeat, for his 
generosity in allowing me free access to the files of that excellent 
jazz magazine.

"Finally, may I express my gratitude to the following artists who so 
graciously offered me time, conversation and information: Duke 
Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Stan Kenton, and Dizzy 

The book itself was published by the 'Jazz Book Club', an English 
enterprise of the 1950's that I don't know much about (and would be 
interested to learn more about). They also published Mezz Mezzrow's 
extraordinary "Really The Blues"- a book that deserves more discussion 
(if only to finally dismiss it as a load of entertaining but 
self-serving bunkum)

Studs's book is made up of journalistic profiles of Joe Oliver, Louis 
Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Bix, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Benny 
Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton and 
Dizzy Gillespie.

It closes with these comments (which may seem a little bland now; but 
remember, this was 1957) and which demonstrate quite a sound 
understanding of the history of jazz to that point. Come to think of it, 
they are not unlike the commentary to Ken Burn's recent TV series:

"...but these twelve lives do not tell the whole story of jazz. There 
have been many giants...

"Coleman Hawkins, whose mastery of the tenor saxophone helped establish 
it as a major instrument of jazz. He brought to it a richness and warmth 
of tone hitherto unheard.

"Lester Young, considered the father of the "cool school" of jazz. A 
pioneer, he introduced a new style at the tenor sax

"Charlie Parker, a flowing mountain of ideas. As composer, 
instrumentalist and improviser, he inspired more modern jazz musicians 
than any other in all the history of this music.

"Art Tatum, the half-blind piano virtuoso. His technique at the keyboard 
was unparalleled. He was the complete master of the instrument. Perhaps 
more than any other artist did he influence jazz pianists.

"Earl Hines, who brought a fresh approach to the jazz piano. In 
discovering new dimensions to this instrument, he helped establish the 
jazz pianist as a solo artist.

"Jack Teagarden, whose trombone was the first to offer more than the 
gutsy, barrel-house sound. He brought unprecedented warmth and deep 
feeling to this instrument. With his arrival from the Southwest, a new 
style of trombone playing came into being.

"Gene Krupa, the first to bring the drums into prominence...Fletcher 
Henderson, whose imaginative arrangements did so much to popularise 
jazz... Lionel Hampton, of limitless energy and fire, who was the first 
to lift the vibraphone to a position of stature in the world of 
jazz...Sidney Bechet, master of the soprano saxophone, who for three 
decades has kept alive the New Orleans tradition... Ella Fitzgerald, a 
jazz singer of consummate taste, remarkable range and brilliant style. 
Her warmth and talent reach out to millions who would otherwise be 
strangers to jazz...

"These - and the many unwritten about - have contributed much to the 
richness of our lives.

"Jazz has come a long way. In the beginning it was frowned upon by 
"respectable" people. It was the music of gamblers and their women...of 
night-lifers...of the half-world...of the wretched and the dispossessed 
who lived on the razor's edge of life.

"Today it is accepted as the music of all America - and of much of the 
world. Its language is universal...it speaks in the tongue of joy and 

In message <3EB73953.40906 at bealenet.com>, fred spencer 
<drjz at bealenet.com> writes
>Jack Tracy was Leonard Feather's co-author of "Laughter from the Hip. 
>The Lighter Side of Jazz", published in   1963 by Horizon Press, and 
>reprinted in 1979 by Da Capo, which has no further information about 
>him in the"blutb". Regards.
>JimDBB at aol.com wrote:
>>In a message dated 5/5/2003 5:00:34 PM Central Standard Time, JackleeT 
>>>Feisty as ever, always on the lookout for injustice, accessible to 
>>>anyone who says hi, Studs is a treasure--he has made a big mark on 
>>>the city he loves.
>>>Jack Tracy
>>  Where do I know the name, Jack Tracy, from? Weren't you, aren't you 
>>a jazz critic-writer or entertainment writer?
>>   Jim Beebe
>>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

Jim Denham

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