Looking back on where my music influences are derived from, I reflect upon the insightful music journalism of Ralph J. Gleason. His writings were lucid and authoritative nurturing the broader base of my music foundation. He created an increased dimensionality to grow my literary and sonic self with exponentiation. I marvelled at how engaging his interpretations were of both jazz/rock artists and their music. I discovered Ralph J. Gleason within the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine. He produced a spontaneity that has never been equalled in my music reading lifetime.
Ralph J. Gleason was the Rembrandt who portrayed the San Francisco music scene with a rich set of oil paints that added texture and substance to the panorama. I admired his brushstrokes as he painted what was transpiring at The Fillmore West and elsewhere in the city. He transported me to a place I wanted to be an essential part of, where music melded with counter-culture.
I deeply appreciated his extensive knowledge of jazz. When I minored in music at the University of New Haven from 1972-1974 it was his liner notes for the Miles Davis, Bitches Brew album among his other writings that raised my level of jazz consciousness.
I am honored to share with my readers that today, May 24th, 2016 we are blessed with two major anthologies of Ralph J. Gleason’s written works (see below). I will be reviewing both of these books in the next few weeks. I will report back to you what I garner from favorite articles and topics anew.
I smiled broadly when Steve Wasserman, Executive Editor at Large for Yale University Press told me on the phone, “what a labor of love it was to put together Ralph J. Gleason’s cannon of work…for a new generation to discover and interpret”. It is a result of the long term friendship between Steve and Toby Gleason this book is realized.
I anticipate the innate pride of Ralph J. Gleason’s son, Toby Gleason the accomplished editor and curator of his father’s music(plus more) treasure chest (1950-1975).
This book is a collection of the writings that appeared in his newspaper columns for The San Francisco Chronicle, the alternative magazine Ramparts and some from his “Perspectives” column in Rolling Stone (which he co-founded and contributed to until his death in 1975).
During his nearly forty years as a music journalist, Ralph J. Gleason recorded many in-depth interviews with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. These informal sessions, conducted mostly in Gleason’s Berkeley, California, home, have never been transcribed and published in full until now.
This remarkable volume, a must-read for any jazz fan, serious musician, or musicologist, reveals fascinating, little-known details about these gifted artists, their lives, their personas, and, of course, their music. Bill Evans discusses his battle with severe depression, while John Coltrane talks about McCoy Tyner‘s integral role in shaping the sound of the Coltrane quartet, praising the pianist enthusiastically. Included also are interviews with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Jon Hendricks, and the immortal Duke Ellington, plus seven more of the most notable names in twentieth-century jazz.