Stanley Crouch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Stanley Crouch (born December 14, 1945) is an African-American poet, music and cultural critic, syndicated columnist, novelist and biographer,[1] perhaps best known for his jazz criticism and his novel Don't the Moon Look Lonesome?


Crouch was born in Los Angeles. Crouch graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. During the early 1970s, he moved from California to New York City, where he shared a loft with tenor saxophonist David Murray above an East Village club called the Tin Palace. He was a drummer for Murray and with other musicians of the underground NY 'jazz loft' scene. Also a poet, he released a 1969[2] album on the Flying Dutchman jazz label entitled Ain't No Ambulances For No Nigguhs Tonight. While working as a drummer, Crouch conducted the booking for an avant-garde jazz series at the club, as well as organizing occasional concert events at the Ladies' Fort.

In Ken Burns' 2005 television documentary Unforgivable Blackness, Crouch says that his father was a "criminal" and that he once met the boxer Jack Johnson.

Since the early 1980s, Crouch has become critical of the more progressive forms of jazz and has been associated with the opinions of Albert Murray. Crouch was fired from JazzTimes following his controversial article "Putting the White Man in Charge" in which he stated that, since the 1960s, "...white musicians who can play are too frequently elevated far beyond their abilities in order to allow white writers to make themselves feel more comfortable about being in the role of evaluating an art from which they feel substantially alienated."[3]


Jazz critic Alex Henderson assesses Crouch as a "rigid jazz purist" and "a blistering critic of avant-garde jazz and fusion..."[4] Of fusion Crouch wrote, "We should laugh at those who make artistic claims for fusion."[5] In The New Yorker Robert Boynton wrote, "Enthusiastic, combative, and never averse to attention, Crouch has a virtually insatiable appetite for controversy."[6] Boynton also noted "Few cultural critics have a vision as eclectic and intriguing as Stanley Crouch's. Fewer still actually fight to prove their points."[6]

Crouch is also a fierce critic of gangsta rap music, asserting that it promotes violence, criminal lifestyles and degrading attitudes toward women.[7] With this viewpoint, he has defended Bill Cosby's "Pound Cake Speech"[8] and praised a women's group at Spelman College for speaking out against rap music.[9][10]

In the 1990s, he upset many political thinkers when he declared himself a "radical pragmatist".[11] He explained, "I affirm whatever I think has the best chance of working, of being both inspirational and unsentimental, of reasoning across the categories of false division and beyond the decoy of race".[12]

His syndicated column for the New York Daily News frequently challenges prominent members of the African American community. Crouch has criticised, among others, author Alex Haley, the author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots: The Saga of an American Family;[13] community leader Al Sharpton;[14] filmmaker Spike Lee;[15] scholar Cornel West[16] playwright Amiri Baraka;[17] as well as Tupac Shakur, in reference to whom he wrote "what dredged-up scum you are willing to pay for is what scum you get, on or off stage."[18]

In 2004 Crouch was invited to a panel of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own Award, a $25,000 award designed to protect speech as it applies to the written word.[19]

In 2005, he was selected as one of the inaugural fellows by the Fletcher Foundation, which awards annual fellowships to people working on issues of race and civil rights. The fellowship program is directed by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University.[20]

Association with Wynton Marsalis and Ken Burns[edit]

Famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has called Crouch "my best friend in the world" and "mentor".[21] The two met after Marsalis, at age 17, came to New York to attend the Juilliard School.[21] The two have shared a close relationship ever since,[21] Crouch having written liner notes for Marsalis' albums since his debut album in 1982.[22]

When Marsalis served as "Senior Creative Consultant" for Ken Burns' 2001 documentary Jazz, Crouch served on the film's advisory board and appears extensively.[23] Some jazz critics and aficionados cited the participation of Marsalis and Crouch specifically as reasons for what they believed to be the film's undue focus on traditional and straight-ahead jazz.[24][25]

After Jazz, Crouch appeared in other Burns films, including the DVD for the 2002 remastered version of The Civil War and the 2004 documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.[26]



Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz
The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity
Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker
The All-American Skin Game, or, The Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994
Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989
Reconsidering the Souls of Black Folk, with Playthell G. Benjamin
Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives
In Defence of Taboos
One Shot Harris: The Photographs of Charles "Teenie" Harris


Don't the Moon Look Lonesome? (2004)
Ain't No Ambulances For No Nigguhs Tonight (1972)


  1. ^ Garner, Dwight (10 October 2013). "Stanley Crouch's ‘Kansas City Lightning,' on Charlie Parker". The New York Times. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Crouch, Stanley (Apr 2003). "Putting the White Man in Charge". JazzTimes. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Stanley Crouch - Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Crouch, Stanley (Mar 2002). "Four-Letter Words: Rap & Fusion". JazzTimes. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Boynton, Robert J. (6 Nov 1995). "The Professor of Connection". The New Yorker. pp. 97–116. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Crouch, Stanley (12 Mar 1997). "Fatal Attraction: Rappers & Violence". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Crouch, Stanley (27 May 2004). "Some Blacks Stand Tall Against the Buffoonery". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Crouch, Stanley (23 Apr 2004). "Hip Hop Takes a Hit; Black Women Are Starting to Fight Rap's Degrading Images". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Boynton, Robert S. "The Professor of Connection: A profile of Stanley Crouch". Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Author unidentified (30 January 1995). "The 100 Smartest New Yorkers". New York Magazine, vol. 28, no. 5, p. 41.
  12. ^ Crouch, Stanley (1995). The All-American Skin Game; or, The Decoy of Race. Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0-679-44202-8.
  13. ^ Crouch, Stanley (12 Apr 1998). "The Roots of Alex Haley's Fraud". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Lamb, Brian (12 May 1996). "The All-American Skin Game, or the Decoy of Race". Booknotes. C-SPAN. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  15. ^ Crouch, Stanley (25 Apr 2011). "Nation in love with minstrelsy: Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Snoop Dogg and struggle to define blackness". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Crouch, Stanley (23 May 2011). "Cornel West is an expert showman but nothing more: The lead huckster of the Ivy League's takedown". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  17. ^ Watts, Jerry Gafio. Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual. New York: New York University Press. p. 203. ISBN 0-8147-9373-8. 
  18. ^ Crouch, Stanley (11 Sep 1996). "Tupac shows risk of being rapped up in stage life". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award". PEN American Center. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  20. ^ Bernstein, Elizabeth (15 Apr 2005). "Giving Back" (PDF). The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c "Wynton Marsalis - Pulitzer Prize for Music". The Achiever Gallery. American Academy of Achievement. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  22. ^ "Wynton Marsalis - Credits". Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  23. ^ "Jazz". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  24. ^ Stevens, Jan. "On Ken Burns JAZZ documentary - and Bill Evans". Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  25. ^ St Clair, Jeffrey. "The Aesthetic Crimes of Ken Burns: Now, That's Not Jazz". Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  26. ^ "Stanley Crouch". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 

External links[edit]