Long before Martin Williams, Gene Lees, or Gunther Schuller, Roger Pryor Dodge was writing seriously about jazz. A ballet, vaudeville, and jazz dancer, Dodge turned his critical attention to the music in the 1920s, helping to build the respect jazz has long since achieved. Now, for the first time, the essays and reviews of one of America's first great jazz critics has been collected in one volume.
Hot Jazz and Jazz Dance gathers thirty years of Dodge's writing, from 1929 to 1958, offering a remarkable chronicle of the changing music and one writer's ever-growing appreciation of it. The classically trained Dodge came to jazz in the early 1920s; he quickly developed a love for the authentic, non-commercial sounds of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and scores of now-forgotten musicians. In these essays, we share a highly personal yet professional encounter with the music--in a moving profile, for instance, of Bubber Miley ("the greatest trumpeter in jazz history--in fact, the greatest musician of them all"), who died of tuberculosis at age thirty. He ranges across the musical spectrum, from the Cuban sexteto to the blues of Lead Belly. Dodge was alsoa professional dancer, however, and this collection contains many of his articles on everything from mambo to Nijinsky (the author owned one of the largest and most important collections of photographs of the great dancer's work, and donated it to the New York Public Library) to a short essay on the young Elvis Presley ("without his having all the necessary elements that combine to make a great dancing talent, he does have the stance of a very great performer"). In addition, this volume offers Dodge's significant writing on classical music, including a piece on Baroque playing styles.
Almost forgotten today, Roger Pryor Dodge was an essential force in making America's music critics take hot jazz and jazz dance seriously. A must for any jazz fan or student of modern culture, this collection deftly captures Dodge's excitement and critical insight.show more