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Jazz for Curious Readers
Stanley Crouch
January 5, 2009

For the past three decades, author and critic Stanley Crouch has challenged readers with his two-fistedly provocative observations of American culture. In books like Considering Genius, The All-American Skin Game and Notes of a Hanging Judge, as well as in commentaries and columns in the New York Daily News and the New Republic, he has examined the volatile issues of black nationalism, feminism and the gay rights movement and bemoaned the sentimentality that guides so much of American social policy. In the process, he has carved out a niche as one of the country’s most controversial, outspoken and independent-minded critics.

Born on December 14, 1945, in Los Angeles, CA, Crouch is a self-taught drummer who started playing in 1966 to accompany poet Jayne Cortez. In 1967, he formed a quartet with alto Arthur Blythe and trumpeter Bobby Bradford. In the early ‘70s he taught drama at Claremont College and led the Black Music Infinity Orchestra that included James Newton (flute), David Murray (tenor saxophone) and Mark Dresser (bass). In 1975, he moved to New York, contributing to Alan Douglas’s celebrated WILDFLOWERS anthologies. Gradually his career as a critic eclipsed his work on the drums.

Jazz, however, remains Stanley Crouch’s passion and his metaphor of an ideal America, where solo expression lifts the whole band, where innovation acknowledges tradition, where democracy drives excellence. The melody under his riffs and rants over the years about black nationalism is the theme that black and white America –no matter the tensions – are unimaginable without each other; African-Americans were essential to the birth of our nation, creating an identity that is more American deeper down than it is any one color.

Crouch has made frequent appearances on Charlie Rose on PBS and on National Public Radio. He has published essays in the Los Angeles Times and in Time Magazine, and, as noted, is a weekly columnist for the New York Daily News, as well as a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast websites. Crouch was a founding artistic consultant to Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Aaron Diehl and Ray Carman
Jonathan Scheuer and Joel Fass
Junior and Jean Clarke
Ken Knuckles and Stanley Crouch

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