October 24

Dan Morgenstern on Jazz
  A Note of Thanks on His Birthday
 (Part One)

Today marks the 89th birthday of jazz writer, editor, critic, archivist, and producer Dan Morgenstern.  The chief editor of DownBeat from 1967 to 1973, and a number of other publications, as well as Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University for over three decades, Morgenstern remains today a giant in the jazz community. 

How, within the confines of a Curio, does one celebrate the birthday of this remarkable individual and his contribution to jazz literature?  How, with a few snippets of text, does one thank a distinguished author, and at the same time, introduce his exceptional body of work to those perhaps less familiar with it?  After some discussion, an unorthodox idea came to the fore . . . . quote the final paragraph of some of his many memorable articles. 

In the first of this two-part series, we feature Morgenstern’s closing thoughts on variety of wide-ranging issues related to jazz.  In part two, we will focus on Morgenstern’s profiles of both highly influential and lesser-known jazz musicians.   


Dan Morgenstern at the 2012 Satchmo SummerFest in New Orleans
Accessed in Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons attribution license; Attributed to “Infrogmation” of New Orleans

In the following letter that appeared in The Jazz Review, Morgenstern reflects on jazz criticism in general…

The Jazz Review, Vol. 3 No. 3 (March-April 1960): 4. 


Morgenstern on jazz and the spirit of community…

Metronome, Vol. 78 No. 4 (April 1961): 47. 


On an unidentified Monday evening in April, or perhaps in May 1961, a remarkable gathering took place at the instigation and at the home of Miles Davis.  It was organized as a turn-the-tables forum in which well-known performers could pose questions to well-known jazz critics. Among the numerous performers—Horace Silver, “Cannonball” Adderley, Gerry Mulligan, J. J. Johnson, and Gil Evans—among the critics, Dan Morgenstern, Nat Hentoff, Ira Gitler, and Martin Williams.

Metronome, Vol. 78 No. 5 (May 1961): 46. 


Morgenstern on jazz festivals, with some unexpected comparisons …

Metronome, Vol. 78 No. 7 (July 1961): 9.


… on jazz and classical music.

Metronome, Vol. 77 No. 8 (August 1960): 45. 


… on jazz and race.

Downbeat, Vol. 29 No 10 (10 May 1962): 6. 


… reflections on his first meeting with James Baldwin (“Jimmy”), on the “Star Spangled Banner,” and on hearing, with Jimmy, Louis Armstrong’s rendition of it at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Again, Happy Birthday Mr. Morgenstern and Many Happy Returns!

*    *    *

Part two of Morgenstern’s reflections in the press will appear after the release of RIPM Jazz Periodicals (RJP), planned for January 2019. It will be on display for the first time on 7-8 January 2019 at the Jazz Congress at Lincoln Center in New York City.


RIPM search tip: Be on the lookout for more posts dealing with jazz, with subjects drawn from the forthcoming RIPM Jazz Periodicals collection; stay tuned!

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RIPM is an international non-profit organization preserving and providing access to music periodicals published in more than twenty countries between approximately 1760 and 1966, from Bach to Bernstein. Functioning under the auspices of the International Musicological Society, and the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres, RIPM produces four electronic publications: Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals, Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals with Full Text, European and North American Music Periodicals (Preservation Series), and RIPM Jazz Periodicals (Preservation Series, forthcoming).


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Posted October 24, 2018 by Ben Knysak in category "Curios and Chronicles