CRITICIZING THE CRITICS IN A NICE WAY, OF COURSE
After some good reviews both in and out of the industry and decent sales for a project of this scope, the backlash against â€œGene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legendâ€ has begun, as I knew it inevitably would. The e-mails being received in this regard, and thankfully there arenâ€™t many of them, concern a number of errors that these readers found, all told, totaling about eight, and one was a typo. Some suggest that Gene is deserving of a more â€œscholarlyâ€ work. Others claim that I am spouting inaccuracies because, since the subject of the book is dead, no one will know the difference. Wow.
Regretfully, there are errors thousands of publications of every kind. Some of the publications, like the errors they contain, are of every size and type. One, very, very well-known mail-order catalog, just as minor example, continues to say that â€œdrugs destroyed (Geneâ€™s) lifeâ€ in their copy advertising â€œThe Gene Krupa Story. DVD. One very well-known writer for the jazz magazine â€œof record,â€ recently reviewed a big name singer and credited his drummer for doing a fine job. Problem was that the drummer he named only appeared on two tracks recorded 20 years ago, because said drummer has been dead since 1989. One great newspaper review of a concert, that appeared in Philadelphia publication years ago, was a rave, rave write-up of a Ray Charles concert. The problem this time is that Charles actually cancelled the concert and there was no such show. The year after, Philadelphiaâ€™s major newpaper and Pulitzer Prize winner had a review of a Count Basie concert. The reviewer remarked that he especially enjoyed the Countâ€™s rendition of the famous song, â€œChinese Stockings.â€ Iâ€™m not even going to talk about the minor inaccuracies that pop up in many jazz books. Itâ€™s a fact of life, and it happens. Always did, always will.
Hopefully, whatever screw-ups made by my publisher, my editor and meâ€”individually and collectivelyâ€”stand as more minor than Count Basieâ€™s â€œChinese Stockings.â€ That reviewer is still working, by the way.
Some of the errors mentioned in my Krupa book are some reputed misspellings (Frank Bellinoâ€™s name was spelled Bellino in no less than â€œDown Beatâ€ magazine, though someone insists it is spelled otherwise), the exact year when Gene began using a swish cymbal (told to me, by the way, by both Charlie Ventura and Eddie Wasserman), dates of photos that may or may not have been off by a year or two, some background figures in photos that may or may not have been misidentified, etc.
I do regret two errors: One was a simple typo, naming my good friend Bruce Crowther as Bruce Growther. It happens. Just as another crazy example, a major drum magazine which should know much, much better, spelled my last name as â€œKaluber.â€ And Iâ€™ve been working with them for almost 20 years. Like I said, it happens. So, to my friend Bruce, and we refer to each other as â€œthe other Bruce,â€
My sincerest apologies.
The other grievance concerns a photograph that is evidently owned by that great drummer, Krupa fan, Krupa supporter and keeper of the Krupa flame, Brooks Tegler. I will notâ€”nor will I everâ€”dispute the fact that the photograph in question is owned by Brooks Tegler. I know Brooks and his dad, the great John Tegler, for many years. If the Teglerâ€™s say itâ€”about anythingâ€”you can bet it is so. From my end, on the copy of the photograph I had, there was absolutely no identifying mark or photo credit on or near the photo itself. Several others, whom I will not name, have also evidently used it uncredited. Believe me, as was said in the bookâ€™s introduction, if an error was made in terms of credit, it is deeply, deeply regretted and I will do everything within my limited power to make things right. I have been in the Teglerâ€™s home and in their company many, many times. What they do for the cause of jazz simply cannot be measured. Brooks, by the way, is heading up a jazz cruise this coming August, where his crackerjack big band will pay tribute pay tribute to Gene, Benny, Glenn Miller and various others in the most authentic manner possible. John will offer commentary and plenty of inside stuff along the way. Check out the latest issue of â€œJazz Timesâ€ for details.
As some of you know, this book was caught in the transition between publishers, when Warner Bros. Publications was sold to the Alfred Publishing Company. If things hadnâ€™t become so complex during this changeover, and I am told that the Krupa book was one of the few projects that survived the change, there likely would have been fewer mistakes than the eight or so reputed ones that there could be. In using over 200 photos, most of them not credited in any way, shape or form, itâ€™s quite possible that some of them may be off by a year or two in terms of identification. Unless you where there, your guess is as good as mineâ€¦believe me. I am not offering excuses, but the accusers should know some of the details involved in a production like this before they accuse so negatively.
There are several â€œlittle guysâ€ (to use Geneâ€™s term) out there who, it appears, want to claim some kind of â€œownershipâ€ of Gene and, for whatever reason, want to nitpick to death projects like these and those who do them. One, in particular, who is no longer with us, virtually â€œnixedâ€ the promotion of a Slingerland, â€œKrupa Tributeâ€ drum set, as he insisted that Gene â€œinventedâ€ the Radio King snare drum, insisted that Slingerland include a 16 X 18 floor tom in the kit, etc. Look whavt happened to the â€œnewâ€ Radio King line.
Let me give you some names of those who have given my books and videos a good deal of support through the years: Charlie Ventura, Marty Napoleon, Bobby Scott, Eddie Wasserman and John Bunch. They all played with Gene, and yes, I had the good fortune of playing with them as well. Then there were Mel Tormeâ€™, Teddy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Jack DeJohnette, Ed Shaughnessy, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Steve Gadd, Max Roach and many more with whom Iâ€™ve worked over the years. The contemporary drummers in the new Krupa book, who know more about Gene than anyone can imagine, have also been behind me since day one and have never suggested my various works be â€œmore scholarlyâ€ or bugged me about the date Gene used a swish or sizzle cymbal.
I decided long ago that the jazz community was much too small for us to be criticizing each other, and that was the time I made the decision that I would no longer function as a criticâ€¦of anything. Hereâ€™s one example why: In the â€œcriticalâ€ arena, thereâ€™s an author and reviewer out there who stands as about the most prolific author and reviewer on jazz in the jazz industry. This guy must be watching DVDs and listening to CDs in his sleep, and good for him. We were, at one time, colleagues and associates in this very small community. As a matter of professional courtesy, I sent this fellow a copy of a semi-private CD release by a vocalist I helped produceâ€”and I played on it as well. My only request to this guy was, â€œIf you dig it and want to say a nice word or two about it, please have a ball. If itâ€™s not to your taste, just toss it out and forget it existed, as itâ€™s mostly a self-produced private thing, anyway. This was some years ago, and I didnâ€™t discover until recently that Mr. Jazz Author reviewed this project, posted on some inconsequential website, and absolutely â€œskeweredâ€ the vocalist and those involved. It was mean-spirited. What was the writerâ€™s purpose in doing this? As Jackie Gleason one said, â€œWhat does it get you?â€ The negatives hurt. Forget the fact that I may be hurt. The negatives hurt the industry. How many of those, after all, are there in what we call â€œjazz?â€
Good, bad or indifferent, I believe that the various Krupa projects over the yearsâ€”whether video, DVD, books or magazine articles, tribute bands and drummers, CDs and web sitesâ€”have really helped bring Geneâ€™s name back before a public that may have forgotten him, and have helped garner an entire new audience for the man and his music. That, I believe, is the point, not whether Gene used a swish cymbal before 1962.
Three books have been written about Gene since 1992: one by Bruce Crowther and two by me. If any of you, mainly those who really do know volumes about Krupa, I cordially invite you to write your own. Iâ€™ll help you get a publisher, too.
I am so fortunate that my friend, and yes, my musical idol, Charlie Ventura lived to see my first Krupa book come out. Other than those in the Goodman Quartet, Charlie, I believe, had the longest on-and-off association with Gene. I asked Charlie one night what Gene would have thought about my book. â€œHe would have loved it, Bruce,â€ Chaz said. And that was and is enough for me.
AND IN OTHER MATTERS
There is a lot of controversy these days about the famousâ€”or infamous, depending on your point of viewâ€”website called YouTube. I believe there has been some discussion about it on our Forum, as well. The fact is, and you can ask anyone from NBC and CNN on up and on down, that YouTube is using copyrighted material. By the droves. I am told that the numbers of those now lined up to sue them are more than equal to the population of a small state. Yes, they are showing Gene Krupa clips, and yes, most of them are mine. And yes, I paid thousands for them through the years. And yes, this is copyright infringement of the most obvious kind. It will be an eye-opening experience for some of you to see the hoops one must go through in order to actually prove copyright infringement. One has to provide everything from your waist size to the maiden name of your next-of-kin. Though this is an exaggeration, check it out. I did, and I have neither the time nor the desire to attempt to fight what is rapidly becoming the internet version of big brother and city hall. If YouTube, reportedly a billion-plus dollar company, gets its rocks off by showing a clip of Gene playing â€œLeave Us Leapâ€ that I paid Turner Entertainment a thousand-plus dollars for in 1993, then so be it. I wish I had the support that they did, and in line with that, as has been mentioned before, www.JazzLegends.com is now accepting appropriate paid advertising. E-Mail me if youâ€™re interested. Maybe Iâ€™ll pitch YouTube.
Talks are continuing with Vic Firth about a Krupa drumstick, and I do hope to meet with Vic personally after the holidays. Likewise with our concept for â€œThe Great American Drum Catalogsâ€ book, which has already garnered the endorsements and blessings of Gretch and Ludwig. Stay tuned and have a swinginâ€™ Thanksgiving and beyond.