Archive for March, 2010

the hearing eye/thriving on a riff

March 5, 2010

The recent book the hearing eye details “jazz and blues influences in african american Visual Art.”  Essays include Robert Farris Thompson on Jean-Michel Basquiat and Paul Oliver on early blues advertising art.  Artists covered include Bob Thompson, Romare Beardon, photographer Roy DeCarava, Joe Overstreet (whose art graces both of the covers),  Norman Lewis, Sam Middleton, Rose Piper and others.

It opens with a quote from Charlie Parker “Hear with your eyes and see with your ears.”  He was quoted by Art Blakey here.  I found a similar quote, attributed to musicians from India.

The companion volume, thriving on a riff, details “jazz and blues influences in african american literature and film.”  In the introduction it speaks of Sun Ra’s use of the word “jazzisticology” aka the study of jazzistics.

Points of interest include an interview with the great poet-performer Jayne Cortez.  There’s also an exploration of jazz autobiography and its ghost writers.  It focuses on the Miles Davis autobiography, but touches upon most of the others.  There’s a piece on problems with Charlie Parker biographer Ross Russell. 

Film soundtracks are examined.  Two of those focused on are John Lewis’ work for Odds Against Tomorrow and the Ellington/Strayhorn score for Anatomy of a Murder.

Both books are from 2009 and edited by Graham Lock and David Murray.  It’s not David Murray the musician.  I’ve read Lock’s book Blutopia.


These are good sites on the books from Oxford University Press, but you need to put in passwords to really get to everything.

the hearing eye site:

thriving on a riff site:

A few of the artists and writers featured in these books

Jayne Cortez:

Joe Overstreet:

Sam Middleton:

Paul Oliver:

Blutopia book: