The day before J.K. Simmons won an Oscar (best supporting actor) for his portrayal of a sadistic jazz teacher in Damien Chazelle’s pulsating, fictional movie Whiplash , legendary jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry died Feb. 21 at age 94 after a long battle with diabetes.
Back in late 1950s and early 1960s, one of the coolest series on the tube was 77 Sunset Strip, a stylish variation on hard-boiled detective noir infused with wise-cracking hipster humor - sort of Raymond Chandler meets the Rat Pack, set in what TV historian Horace Newcomb describes as "a sun-drenched world of cocktails, cool jazz and convertibles."
A 1954 cover story in Time magazine described Dave Brubeck as "a wigging cat with a far-out wail," in a cringe-worthy attempt to approximate the hep lingo of the jazz aficionados who crowded into his performances in the smoky bohemian nightclubs of the day. But audiences flocked to see Brubeck at Carnegie Hall and other highbrow settings, too.
The history of jazz, that signature American art form, is replete with musicians - from Kid Ory to Ornette Coleman - who've dared to improvise and tinker with melody and time signatures, and who've continually reinvented the nature of music itself.
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