Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Norman Granz: The Conscience of Jazz

Charlie Parker - Saxophone
Coleman Hawkins - Tenor saxophone
Hank Jones - Piano
Ray Brown - Double bass
Buddy Rich - Drums
Bill Harris - Trombone
Lester Young - Tenor saxophone
Harry Edison - Trumpet
Flip Phillips - Tenor saxophone
Ella Fitzgerald - Vocals, Scatting
The Lineup:
0:18 - Coleman Hawkins,
Hank Jones, Ray Brown, and Buddy Rich.
2:53 - Charlie Parker,
Hank Jones, Ray Brown, and Buddy Rich.
5:15 - Hank Jones,
Ray Brown, and Buddy Rich.
7:12 - Bill Harris, Lester Young,
Hank Jones, Ray Brown, and Buddy Rich.
10:43 - Flip Philips, Harry Edison,
Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Harris, Lester Young,
Hank Jones, Ray Brown, and Buddy Rich.
14:56 - The End

Although he never contributed a note of music to jazz, Norman Granz played a major role in the history of the music. He instituted the famous Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts, launched and ran four record labels, including one of the most significant imprints in jazz, Verve Records, and managed the careers of two of its most widely known performers, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson.
In the process, he became jazz's first official millionaire, a fact held against him in some quarters. At the same time, he fought tirelessly on behalf of both his artists and audiences, demanding the same treatment for jazz musicians as accorded to classical performers, and refusing to book his JATP tours into segregated concert halls in the 1940s, long before the major civil rights breakthroughs of subsequent decades.
Granz was of Ukranian-Jewish descent. His family had lost their business in the Depression, and he worked his way through college, then joined MGM as a film editor after his wartime military service. His passion was jazz, and he began a long involvement with the music by persuading Billy Berg, a well-known Los Angeles club owner, to allow him to promote a jam session at his club, the Trouville, on Sunday nights. One of the conditions he imposed was that Berg abandon entirely his whites-only audience policy.

As long as we're in a democracy, I have to give what I think the majority of people will enjoy.
I allowed artists to play for as long as they felt they could justifiably continue to create.
I don't say that the supposed Civil Rights development is a myth, but it's a matter of dealing with reality. It's purely peripheral and, in many cases, it's just a facade.
I don't think that jazz, as any kind of an art form, has any permanence attached to it, apart from the practitioners of it.
I don't want to sound as if I'm doing something tremendously special. But I am a jazz fan.
I'm concerned with trend. I don't know where jazz fans will come from 20 years from now.
Of the newer people I would like to display to the public, I find it almost impossible to get them to agree to the jam session form.
The history of all big jazz bands shows was, first they played for dancing, and then they played for singing.
The public, hearing pop music, is, without knowing it, also soaking up jazz.
You will always find a few people in any area that would like things done completely their way

Verve: Norman Granz: The Conscience of Jazz By Tad Hershorn
A portrait of the legendary jazz producer and manager explores the history of music throughout the past sixty years as it was reflected by Granz's career and contributions, documents his work as a civil rights activist, and describes his founding of the Verve record label. 25,000 first printing.

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