May 2007

Kelly Writers House (UPenn)3805 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: Free Admission
Wednesday, February 7, 2007 - 5:30pm

"Jazz In The 1970s: The Whole Story" with Gary Giddins & Nate Chinen

Ars Nova Workshop and the Kelly Writers House are pleased to present Gary Giddins in conversation with his fellow JazzTimes columnist Nate Chinen, who is also a former assistant coordinator at the Writers House.

The 1970s were an uncertain and tumultuous period for jazz and improvised music but perhaps, in some regards, a golden age. Few people are better qualified to discuss that legacy than Gary Giddins, who covered it extensively in the pages of the Village Voice. "Just about every week," Giddins wrote recently in JazzTimes, recalling the so-called "loft scene" of that era, "new blood drained into the city as a new music took root, one that seemed to spring from the avant-garde while embracing everything that came before it."

Nearly 25 years ago, critic Martin Williams called Gary Giddins "probably the most impressive journalist ever to have written about music." Born in Brooklyn, New York, Giddins graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa, and the following year began working as a freelance writer. In 1973, he joined the Village Voice, and a year later introduced his column "Weather Bird," which he ended in December 2003, closing a 30-year run during which he received international recognition and won many prizes, including an unparalleled six ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for Excellence in Music Criticism.

Giddins' writings on music, books, and movies have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic, Grand Street, The Nation, and many other publications. He presently writes columns about music for JazzTimes and about film for the New York Sun. His first book, Riding on a Blue Note, appeared in 1981, and was followed by Rhythm-a-Ning, Faces in the Crowd, and critical biographies of Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong that he adapted into documentary films for PBS.  He won a Peabody award for writing the PBS documentary, John Hammond: From Bessie Smith to Bruce Springsteen. He has been nominated three times for Grammy Awards, and won in 1987 for his liner notes to Sinatra: The Voice.

In 1986, Giddins and the late pianist-composer John Lewis introduced the American Jazz Orchestra, which presented jazz repertory concerts for the next seven years-more than 35 concerts involving Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Bobby Short, Muhal Richard Abrams, Gerry Mulligan, Henry Threadgill, Jimmy Heath, David Murray, and many others. He also produced four concerts for Festival Productions at the JVC Jazz Festival, working with Roy Eldridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Gil Evans, Lee Konitz, Joe Williams, Carmen McRae, Johnny Hartman, and, in his New York debut, Bobby Mcferrin.

Nate Chinen (C'97) is a music critic who contributes regularly to the New York Times and JazzTimes, as well as Weekend America, a nationally syndicated public radio program. His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper and various other publications. He is the recipient of two recent awards from the Jazz Journalists Association: the Helen Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Newspaper, Magazine or Online Feature or Review Writing in 2006, and the distinction for Best Book About Jazz in 2004, for Myself Among Others, his collaboration with the jazz impresario George Wein. As an undergraduate at Penn, Nate was deeply involved with the Kelly Writers House, serving as Assistant Coordinator from 1997-98.