Jazz critic Stanley Crouch has died, the New York Daily News reports. The renowned critic died Wednesday at a New York City hospital, his wife, Gloria Nixon-Crouch, announced. He is said to have suffered significant health issues for much of the last decade.
Crouch, who was also a playwright, director, and author, wrote for The Village Voice, The New York Daily News, Slate, The Root, The Daily Beast, and The New Republic. In 1993, he was the recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Grant, which awards money to creatives they deem worthy to further their work. The grants are now up to $625K paid over five years.
Crouch was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 14, 1945. He once pursued a career as a jazz drummer, decided instead he was a better writer and moved to New York City. There, he became known for what would now be considered ‘hot takes’ on music and culture both in his writing and on television where he was in demand as a cultural commentator.
While he was good friends with renowned Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and helped him launch Jazz at Lincoln Center, he took umbrage with the work of both Spike Lee and Toni Morrison.
“She has a certain skill, but she has no serious artistic vision or real artistic integrity,” Crouch once told The Washington Post. “‘Beloved’ was a fraud. It gave a fake vision of the slave trade, it didn’t deal with the complicity of Africans, and it moved the males into the wings.”
As for Lee, he once called him a “middle-class, would-be street Negro,” according to The Daily News.
Crouch’s books included collections of essays “Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989,” “Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz,” the novel “Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome?” and “Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker,” a critically acclaimed biography of iconic jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. Crouch appeared with Marsalis in the 2001 Ken Burns documentary Jazz and in 2019, Crouch was honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.
“Stanley was one of the first Black alternate journalists that I read on a regular basis,” writer and cultural critic Michael Gonzales, who writes for various publications including Long Reads, told theGrio. “He was writing about politics, he was writing about jazz, he was writing about art. He just kind of took the Black aesthetic further in mainstream magazines. Stanley was an incredible writer, an incredible stylist. I didn’t always like what he said but I liked the way he said it. Jazz at Lincoln Center is as much a part of his legacy as the writing is.”
According to NPR, Crouch spent the last year of his life in a New York nursing home and fought off COVID-19 in the spring.
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