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Monday, May 08, 2006

DJ Jazzy Jack

Former Chicago Tribune editor and loaded retiree Jack Fuller revisits his old stomping ground--you left the place in tip-top shape, Jack!--with a courageous op-ed arguing that jazz is an art form.

That's right--you read it in the Trib first. While most of us think of jazz as devilish music suitable only for gin-joints and mixed-race dancing, Fuller boldly makes the case that it is something more. He draws our attention to a little-known art-world prize called the Pulitzers, which are known for singling out visionary artists ahead of their time. This year's music prize went to an enterprising young fellow named Thelonious Monk--keep an eye on him, he sounds like a comer--and Fuller sees in it evidence that maybe this jazz thing was more than a youthful fad:
But the Pulitzer for Monk was an especially big step forward. I hope jazz artists recognize its significance and are emboldened to enter work they might previously have thought could never win, because Monk got the prize for nothing more than his tunes--jagged variations on the American popular song.


The recognition of jazz extends beyond the Pulitzer Prize and trendy restaurants. You can find evidence of it at length in the 852-page Oxford Companion to Jazz. Or in the inclusion of many jazz musicians and other references in the Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians by Don M. Randel.
Holy shit. Jazz has its own Oxford Companion. Who knew? If these jazz-types keep up the good work, it may one day even become America's only home-grown art form, a national institution, a wellspring of our national culture. Keep dreaming, you young jazz-players! Because--unlike some newspapers--a Pulitzer Prize is no longer beyond your reach!