Leonard Feather on Duke Ellington (NYT, Dec. 1944)

Between May and December 1943, a series of articles on Ellington's Carnegie Hall debut was published in the American magazine Jazz.

John Hammond fired the controversy up with his article "Is The Duke Deserting Jazz?", published in the May 1943 issue, where he criticized Ellington's music (particularly Black, Brown & Beige) for having lost connection with its original function for dancing, and for having become too complex. Hammmond had previously criticized Ellington's Reminiscing In Tempo in his article "The Tragedy Of Duke Ellington", published in the November 1935 issue of Downbeat, for not showing any commitment to social causes.

Leonard Feather, acting both as a critic and as Ellington's press agent, responded to Hammond with a ferocious rebuttal in the May 1943 issue, suggesting possible personal reasons behind Hammond's criticism of Ellington.

Jazz's editor Bob Thiele took a more moderate possition in the July 1943 issue, with an article called "The Case Of Jazz Music". Three other articles were added to this debate: Jake Trussell's "Ellington Hits The Top, And The Bottom" (May 1943) and "In Defense Of Hammond" (July 1943) and Jim Weaver's "Jazz And Ellingtonia" (December 1943).

The following article by Leonard Feather, "The Duke And His Place In Jazz History", was published in the New York Times twelve months after this controversy.

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5 comentarios:

  1. Thank you for bringing this up, Augustín. I guess you know that Leonard wrote a Metronome article during WWII, criticizing John. He called it "Heil Hammond." It was about John's dictatorial ways—John hadn't changed when I was involved with him some 25 years later.

  2. Thank you for bringing this up, Agustín. I'm sure you know that Leonard wrote an article on John the dictator for Metronome magazine during WWII. He called it "Heil Hammond".

    Your blog is as useful and authoritative as it is esthetically admirable.

  3. Agustín, gracias por la publicación del artículo, tú entrada la puedo traducir (con mis limitaciones) pero el artículo en el periódico sobrepasa mis conocimientos.

    De todos modos, lo que sí tengo claro es que John Hammond era crítico con Ellington, por no procuparse por causas sociales o por preocuparse en exceso por las causas sociales en su música. La posición del tal Hammond parece contradictoria y poco comprensible, me gustaría saber que le dice Leonard Feather aunque sea a grandes rasgos, sobretodo para no quedarme con la miel en los labios.

    Un cordial saludo,

    Paco Macías (Coleman)

  4. Paco:

    A ver si saco algo de tiempo para traducir el artículo de Leonard Feather.