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If this is your first visit, welcome to my blog of memories and observations. If you wish to be notified of new posts, enter an e-mail address above, and click on "Submit." As we move through a seventh year of this venture, I thank all who have made regular visits, as well as fellow bloggers who have found Stomp Off worth linking to. Doing this sort of thing is time-consuming, but I try to post fresh material at least once a week—let me know what you think. There is a Commentary option at the end of each post and a Guest Book can be reached by scrolling down and clicking on the quill image. I welcome your observations, reaction and/or suggestions in either spot—or both. As for blog content, the most current posts are on the home page, starting at the top. Earlier items are listed by month, year and title in the archive index. To zero in on a particular key word or subject, use the search option that is located directly beneath the blog's masthead. Most images can be enlarged with a mouse click, and there are links to some of my favorite blogs, etc. Since visitors have come from 150 countries, a translator with numerous languages is located below. You can at any time revert to English with a click at the top left of this page:

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9/15/10

Letters from Stanley Dance


Stanley Dance was born in Braintree, England, September 15, 1910.  This anniversary affords me the opportunity to honor his memory and say how much I have missed his presence since his passing, almost twelve years ago. 

I did not see as much of Stanley and his wife, Helen, as I would have liked to, but we always kept in touch, even after they moved to California. Helen would call me just to make sure that I was in good health, and Stanley periodically sent me little notes and letters. We had more in common than our love of the music, for we shared a somewhat cynical view of our profession. While we took our work with the seriousness it merits, we were both ever mindful of the fact that we were bit players sharing a stage with real stars: the creative forces of jazz.

We took off the rose-colored glasses when it came to viewing the many of our colleagues and the business side of jazz. It was something we often couldn't help discussing, something that we  tended to view with a touch of humor. I mean, how could anyone take someone like Leonard Feather seriously—yes, his "blackmail" was not to be lightly dismissed, but he was a pathetic little man who had an all too lofty opinion of himself. Let me give you an example of Leonard's modus operandi, which was, indeed, "blackmail" of a sort. I was not at all surprised when Carl Jefferson (Concord Jazz) told me that Leonard required liner note assignments in return for a mention in his syndicated column—he did that sort of thing all the time. It was not something our colleagues talked about in public, but Stanley and I never played Leonard's game.

I bring up Leonard, because Stanley loved the letter exchange I had with him regarding my liner notes for a Dinah Washington CD set . Here is a link to an earlier post containing the Feather exchange (you have to scroll down to the picture of Dinah).

Nobody loved LF more than LF himself, so the cartoon Stanley sent me as a response was right on the mark  (click on images to enlarge)....

Stanley and Earl Hines (Photo by Brian Kent)
Some of Stanley's letters are reproduced below. There really is no need for me to add text, they speak for themselves and indicate why Stanley and I got along so well. He left us a legacy of books and recordings that will outlast all of us, he let me with many memories of a true gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor, impressive knowledge and insight. Some people thought Stanley's scope could have been wider, but he had been contributing to jazz since 1933, when I was two years old. Stanley made many friends among the musicians and singers whose music he so respectfully fostered. That should tell you a lot. So will these letters.


I was an early computer user/enthusiast (1979). Stanley found that interesting and often referred to it.


That's it. Remember to click on the images, the better to read them.







4 comments:

  1. Well you have done it again Chris... You just had to put another individual in the spotlight. You really are putting a strain on the hours I have in a day. Sure enough I had to google Stanley after reading he might have been an individual with integrity within the world of music.

    Sure enough this is going to lead me down another long road of interesting research on the illusions of the industry.

    Stanley Dance & his wife, Helen Oakley-Dance both seemed to have lead very interesting lives. I am sure they were one couple that could have written a "Book", that would have had the star tabloids blushing with jealousy.

    You guys didn't think to maybe write all the good stuff down and put it away for a rainy day did you? Like we agree it's never too late to correct & edit History. I could help as all my letters and questions to the living insiders already seem to make them uncomfortable.

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  2. I was and still am very interested in Jazz writings, I even wrote endless (so far about 15 chapters) of analysis of Jazz writers, and Feather is one I had many problems. for instance his books were in my analysis more shaping public opinion style than strict history, example in his book he used two columns, one for musicians and the other he defined as fans or something, I have to look at it again to be precise, but in fact, a few fallacies were obvious in his system. One was that he brought musicians like Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie and others to comment about New Orleans Jazz, and didn't brought the other way around, like New Orleans musicians to comment about Swing musicians. Another problem is to take someone like Andre Hodier who was known for his disliking New Orleans music to bash great artists like Johnny Dodds. Not to mention Feather defined Hodier as "musician". A reader might think from reading that chapter that all the Swing advocats were musicians in the most serious definition, while anyone from New Orleans or any supporter were all bunch of amateurs and fans.

    My question that I still try to understand is why Feather is the most influential Jazz writer, despite his offering weren't too much. He had good analysis but there were others with much more to offer.

    It seems Feather had good relations with musicians, like Ellington, Basie and others, and it was good for both sides, but not always that much for Jazz writings like the Feather-Hammond 1943 debate over Duke's Carnegie Hall concerts.

    Another example his question about future of Jazz in his book, again he brought musicians to voice himself, more or less, I wonder how much of what my observation is synchroinized with what happened behind the scenes with Feather.

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  3. I followed the trail to the Earl Hines photo. I am very interested in the story regarding this.

    Great Site.

    Michael

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the compliment, Michael. I don't know which photo of Earl you are referring to. If you can be more specific and if there is a related story that I know, I'll be glad to tell it.

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