Stanley Crouch, contentious man of letters, dead at 74

Stanley Crouch, a contentious and influential critic, columnist and self-taught Renaissance guy who in fiction and nonfiction used to be impressed by means of his wisdom and love of blues and jazz and his impulse to step over the road, died Wednesday at age 74

NEW YORK — Stanley Crouch, a contentious and influential critic, columnist and self-taught Renaissance guy who in fiction and nonfiction used to be impressed by means of his wisdom and love of blues and jazz and his impulse to step over the road, died Wednesday at age 74.

In a profession courting again to the 1960s, Crouch used to be a columnist for the Village Voice and the New York Day-to-day Information, a visitor on NPR and Charlie Rose’s display, a jazz drummer, a founding father of what changed into Jazz at Lincoln Heart and mentor to Wynton Marsalis and plenty of more youthful writers and musicians, an aficionado of baseball and American folklore and scourge of Toni Morrison, Spike Lee and Amira Baraka amongst others.

At house, he learn, wrote and listened to tune. Clear of house, he may flip up any place — eating with then-Vice President Al Gore, chatting up musicians on the Village Forefront or making a unique look at a rite for the Nationwide Board of Overview awards, when he permitted a prize on behalf of Quentin Tarantino, who liked Crouch’s reward for “Pulp Fiction.” He used to be additionally a favourite of documentary maker Ken Burns, his remark showing in “Jazz” and “The Civil Struggle” amongst different movies.

Crouch’s paintings used to be ever a mix of top artwork and side road communicate, the prose model of what he regarded as the profound democracy of jazz. He noticed his nation, his paintings and his existence as intertwined, advancing “via argument, via contradiction, via reinterpretation,” grounded and graced by means of a spirit of “tragic optimism.” In his 2007 biography of Charlie Parker, “Kansas Town Lightning,” he items the good saxophonist in his early days as now not only a innovative musician, however a type of exemplary citizen.

“The 21-year-old Parker used to be possessed by means of his tune — by means of a starving wish to improvise, to be informed new tunes, to search out new techniques of having during the harmonies with fabrics that will unencumber him from cliches,” Crouch wrote. “Parker perceived to have a crying soul, a spirit as stricken by means of the character of existence because it wa able to nearly limitless birthday celebration.”

Crouch championed new concepts, however used to be deeply immersed previously and in many ways most popular it — scorning fusion and different newer incarnations of jazz, to the purpose the place he and Marsalis have been criticized for unduly shaping Burns’ jazz documentary, and figuring out with the time period “Negro” over African American. A deep-voiced, cumbersome guy who as soon as slapped the face of a reviewer who had panned his novel “Don’t the Moon Glance Lonesome,” he used to be similarly emphatic whether or not rhapsodizing over Duke Ellington or Charlie Parker, disparaging gangsta rap (“‘Beginning of a Country’ with a backbeat”) or admiring Barack Obama (“a rhythm and blues man”).

Heat phrases from Crouch have been savored if just for the ferocity, even extremity, of his scorn. He referred to as Lee a “middle-class would-be side road Negro” and Morrison a creator “perforated by means of ideology,” turning out “bath corn liquor.” He and Baraka so despised each and every different that once New Yorker creator Robert Boynton referred to as Baraka for a tale on Crouch in 1995, the poet referred to as Crouch ”a backwards, asinine individual” and hung up the telephone.

“Crouch has a nearly insatiable urge for food for controversy,” Boynton wrote.

Crouch’s grievance used to be gathered into “Notes of a Putting Pass judgement on,” “The All-American Pores and skin Recreation” and different books. He have been operating on a 2d Parker quantity, however may now not entire it as a result of his well being. His honors integrated a Whiting Award, the Windham-Campbell Prize and being named a Jazz Grasp in 2019 by means of the Nationwide Endowment for the Arts. He used to be a visiting professor at Columbia College and president of the Louis Armstrong Tutorial Basis.

Crouch is survived by means of his spouse, a daughter and granddaughter.

Asmathic and steadily sick as a kid, Crouch used to be raised in Los Angeles by means of his mom and used to be keen to be informed about new worlds, studying William Faulkner, Mark Twain and different canonical writers and instructing himself find out how to drum. He used to be a civil rights activist within the 1960s who used to be radicalized by means of the 1965 Watts riots however later became in opposition to Black nationalism. Crouch changed into an inheritor to the highbrow custom of such fellow Black writers as Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, advocating the spontaneity and inclusiveness of jazz because the greatest qualities of “this loopy cover referred to as The united states.” In a 2011 Day-to-day Information column, he savored “the ones affirmative, good-time American moments able to transcending one-dimensional materialism.”

“That’s the essence of jazz in all its kinds and is the continued essence of Americana when lived to its maximum potent energy,” he wrote, “the highest and the ground blended into a unbroken liquidity of many flavors, all known for the sunshine in their deeply human resources.”

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