Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Articles [NAJP]

Justice Versus Just Us

Via regular Expert Witness commenter Cam Patterson I learned of this remarkable column by Greg Thomas, consisting mostly of a conversation with Gary Giddins. I know both these jazz critics, Gary very well and Greg as someone I edited a few times in the '90s and stay in touch with. But it's been a long time since I've discussed this topic with either of them. As is relevant to mention, Greg is black and Gary is white.

The subject of the column is why the Jazz Journalists Association has never given a Lifetime Achievement Award to an African-American writer. Giddins makes three obvious suggestions: Albert Murray, Amiri Baraka, and Stanley Crouch. Murray is now 95 and reportedly very frail, and I suppose the JJA could complain that he was never really a journalist--at best, an essayist, tsk tsk. Also, he has very conservative tastes--basically never adjusted to bebop. Who cares? Stomping the Blues is a profound and generative work, and he's 95. Get on it. Similarly, one could observe that it's been a long time since Baraka wrote much music journalism (and whisper that in addition he's an ideologue whose ideas are often, tsk tsk, questionable, plus we think he doesn't respect us, boo hoo). Who cares? He's Amiri Baraka, for Chrissake. He researched Blues People in Room 315 of the NYPL 50 years ago, and yeah, he got stuff wrong--while starting a crucial conversation that reminded white admirers of African-American culture that black people might have something of their own to say about these things. He's no spring chicken either. Get on it. And then, the very next year, my always contentious and often irritating old pal and editee Crouch. A curmudgeon, a player, a pain in the ass. Who cares? I would hesitate to account even Giddins a more broadly influential jazz critic in this period unless somebody came up with a metric now unknown to me. Get on it.

Articles, July 13, 2011


Beef Marinara a la Gaga Cheetah [Hearts] Commentary