Ralph J. Gleason’s Legacy Honored

Looking back on where my music influences are derived from, I reflect upon the insightful music journalism of Ralph J. Gleason. His writings were lucid and authoritative nurturing the broader base of my music foundation. He created an increased dimensionality to grow my literary and sonic self with exponentiation. I marvelled at how engaging his interpretations were of both jazz/rock artists and their music. I discovered Ralph J. Gleason within the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine. He produced a spontaneity that has never been equalled in my music reading lifetime.

gleason-203x300Ralph J. Gleason was the Rembrandt who portrayed the San Francisco music scene with a rich set of oil paints that added texture and substance to the panorama. I admired his brushstrokes as he painted what was transpiring at The Fillmore West and elsewhere in the city. He transported me to a place I wanted to be an essential part of, where music melded with counter-culture.

I deeply appreciated his extensive knowledge of jazz. When I minored in music at the University of New Haven from 1972-1974 it was his liner notes for the Miles Davis, Bitches Brew album among his other writings that raised my level of jazz consciousness.

I am honored to share with my readers that today, May 24th, 2016 we are blessed with two major anthologies of Ralph J. Gleason’s written works (see below). I will be reviewing both of these books in the next few weeks. I will report back to you what I garner from favorite articles and topics anew.

I smiled broadly when  Steve Wasserman, Executive Editor at Large for Yale University Press told me on the phone, “what a labor of love it was to put together Ralph J. Gleason’s cannon of work…for a new generation to discover and interpret”. It is a result of the long term friendship between Steve and Toby Gleason this book is realized.

I anticipate the innate pride of Ralph J. Gleason’s son, Toby Gleason the accomplished editor and curator of his father’s music(plus more) treasure chest (1950-1975).

Music in the Air, The Selected Writings of Ralph J. Gleason by Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason, Jann Wenner and Paul Scanlon

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This book is a collection of the writings that appeared in his newspaper columns for The San Francisco Chronicle, the alternative magazine Ramparts and some from his “Perspectives” column in Rolling Stone (which he co-founded and contributed to until his death in 1975).

 

 

Conversations In Jazz: The Ralph J. Gleason Interviews by Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason and Ted Gioia

During his nearly forty years as a music journalist, Ralph J. Gleason recorded many in-depth interviews with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. These informal sessions, conducted mostly in Gleason’s Berkeley, California, home, have never been transcribed and published in full until now.e2798d8e052085dfc34efddb2e8f6ee8

This remarkable volume, a must-read for any jazz fan, serious musician, or musicologist, reveals fascinating, little-known details about these gifted artists, their lives, their personas, and, of course, their music. Bill Evans discusses his battle with severe depression, while John Coltrane talks about McCoy Tyner‘s integral role in shaping the sound of the Coltrane quartet, praising the pianist enthusiastically. Included also are interviews with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Jon Hendricks, and the immortal Duke Ellington, plus seven more of the most notable names in twentieth-century jazz.

The Band – Live at the Academy Of Music 1971

In the day Howard Stein was a rock promoter in the New York metro market. He booked shows I saw at The Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY. You can find that information here on my blog.

He also booked shows at the Academy of Music in Manhattan a venue I never got to witness.  It just so happens a historic series of concerts by The Band at the Academy of Music (featuring a surprise appearance on New Years by Bob Dylan) is due to be released as a box set or double CD (your choice) on September 17.

Credit:Corbis.com!

For the first time, all four of the concerts’ multi-track recordings have been revisited for Live At The Academy Of Music 1971, a new 4CD+DVD collection to be released September 17 by Capitol/UMe. The expansive new collection features new stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes, including 19 previously unreleased performances and newly discovered footage of two songs filmed by Howard Alk and Murray Lerner. Live At The Academy Of Music 1971 takes a deep dive into The Band’s historic shows for a definitive document of the pioneering group’s stage prowess at the apex of their career. On the same date, the collection’s first two discs will also be released as a 2CD set.

Live At The Academy Of Music 1971 is presented in a deluxe, 48-page hardbound book with previously unseen photos, a reproduction of Rolling Stone’s original Rock Of Ages review by magazine co-founder Ralph J. Gleason, an essay by The Band’s Robbie Robertson, and appreciations of The Band and the set’s recordings by Mumford & Sons and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. The collection’s first two discs feature performances of every song played over the course of the four concerts, and the New Year’s Eve soundboard mix on discs 3 and 4 puts the listener in the room for that entire legendary night: Uncut, unedited, taken straight from the master recordings and presented in full for the first time. The set’s DVD presents the tracks from discs 1 and 2 in 5.1 Surround, plus Alk and Lerner’s filmed performances of “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” and “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show.”

Music Journalism A-Z – Additional Authors

I have looked high and low for a music journalist whose last name begins with X. I could not find anyone.

David Byrne speaking at the 2006 Future of Mus...
David Byrne speaking at the 2006 Future of Music Policy Summit hosted by the McGill University Schulich School of Music in Montreal, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I decided to take this opportunity and go back through the alphabet of music journalists that I didn’t get to write about first time. I had some tough choices to make for the Music Journalism A-Z series when I decided I would only feature one music journalist by first letter of their last name.

There are many other music journalists that deserve major recognition for their accomplishments and invaluable insights.

The first music journalist I want to mention  is David Byrne. Most people freely associate him as a musician, songwriter, or as a visual artist. He writes a regular journal that I subscribe to,  David Byrne’s Journal. David Byrne is a technology leader who assuaged our collective consciousness. He articulates a much-needed voice  of expression for artistic intelligentsia. He has authored nine books to date.

  • True Stories (1986)
  • Strange Ritual, Chronicle Books (1995)
  • Your Action World (1999)
  • The New Sins (Los Nuevos Pecados) (2001)
  • David Byrne Asks You: What Is It? Smart Art Press (2002)
  • Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information with DVD (2003)
  • Arboretum, (2006)
  • Bicycle Diaries (2009)
  • How Music Works (2012)

The letter C proved challenging as there were two other music journalists of renown I wanted to write about, Robert Christgau and Nate Chinen.

Christgau is the cornerstone of music criticism and his Consumer Guide has helped me purchase  fantastic recordings over the decades.

Nate Chinen constantly turns me on to new jazz sources via his blog and music reviews in the New York Times.

English: on the
English: on the “Music in the ’00s” panel, 2010 Pop Conference, EMPSFM, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Joe Mabel)

The next music journalist I wanted to circle back to is David Fricke, Senior Editor at Rolling Stone. He authors the “Fricke’s Picks” column in the Rolling Stone record review section.

He is responsible for the 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time special edition issue and column that gets a lot of views on my music blog post as a two-part series that I wrote about last year.

The letter G had several music journalists I could have also written about and that have my undying respect. Those journalists include Gary Giddins, Mikal Gilmore, Ralph J. Gleason and Peter Guralnick. I had just written about Peter Guralnick in January so I faded on him for this month.

Gary Giddins has been a long-time columnist for the Village Voice and unarguably the world’s preeminent jazz critic who has won an unparalleled six ASCAP–Deems Taylor Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Peabody Award in Broadcasting, as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Jazz Journalists Association. He’s also received the Raiph J. Gleason Music Book Award.

Mikal Gilmore is a friend on Facebook. I enjoy his posts and love the articles he writes for Rolling Stone Magazine. He has two interviews with Bob Dylan that are must reads in the latest Rolling Stone Special Issue.

Ralph J. Gleason had a powerful influence on me as a music author of depth and substance. He contributed for many years to the San Francisco Chronicle, was a founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine, and was co-founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival. He represented both pop and jazz music with equal intensity. I especially love his liner notes for the pivotal jazz recording Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.

I debated for too long about featuring Nat Hentoff for the letter H. I struggled to do him justice in my draft blog post. I thoroughly enjoy his music sociopolitical bent. He is a jazz subject matter authority and my kinda liberal 😉

Richard Meltzer wrote one of my all time favorite rock music epics, The Aesthetics of Rock. I’m on my second copy now 😉

It was a total toss of the coin between Robert Palmer and Jon Pareles of the New York Times. I can’t get enough of Mr. Pareles writing. I’m drawn to his prose like a moth to a flame.

Jon Pareles Writer Jon Pareles (L) interviews singer/musician Chris Cornell at the New York Times TimesTalk during the 2012 NY Times Arts & Leisure weekend>> at The Times Center on January 7, 2012 in New York City.

I still feel like I could write about 25 more music journalists in this post. What a great well of knowledge to draw upon.

Santana – Caravanserai

My favorite Santana studio recording is Caravanserai. It never ages or fails to intrigue me after 40 years.

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Caravanserai was released on October 11, 1972, the same day as Miles Davis’s On The Corner. Poetic justice for jazz fusion. Both recordings were on Columbia Records. Give them both a listen, back to back. That’s what Ralph J. Gleason did to prepare for his review of Caravanserai for Rolling Stone Magazine.

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