Nat Hentoff Trashes Voice’s Own Jazz Show


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October 8, 1958, Vol. III, No. 50

Squareville and Other Towns

By Nat Hentoff

If The Village Voice is indeed planning to participate in future jazz concerts, it owes its future audiences and its own reputation an interim period of self-instruction. The September 27 concert at Loew’s Sheridan was deplorable on nearly all possible counts. I will not comment on the music except to note that the Messengers, Ben Webster, Jimmy Knepper and one or two more saved the early morning from a total fiasco.

The primary goof — and it was inexcusable — was in the listening conditions. After the Brubeck concert, somebody at the Voice should have realized that a pianist requires a piano, not a relic that sounds like a debauched clavecin. The distortion, moreover, in the public-address system was incredibly huge and constant. That the promoter allowed this to continue without at least an apology to the audience and some attempt to get emergency help (perhaps this was done, I don’t know) is a further part of the indictment of a concert — so amateurish that it even made the Newport Festival appear semi-professional.

As John Wilson said of the concert in the Times: “…even a jazz audience is rarely asked to tolerate vicissitude and ineptitude on such a monstrous scale.”

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