Editor's Clarification: This blog post mischaracterized recent articles in Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss. The writers of those pieces did not argue that "too many Jews" write for The Nation; they pointed out that The Nation
My last Nation column before the break was China Goes Dark.
And speaking of The Nation, have you noticed what the magazine’s real problem is? Too many Jews! That’s right. Just like Richard Nixon instructing his aide to “count the Jews” at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and get rid of as many as he could, two pro-BDS websites, Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss, published articles complaining about how many Jews write for The Nation. I salute both for their belated commitments to honesty and transparency. It’s always nice when people who pretend to care about one thing admit to their actual motivations, though I do wish each would clarify just how many Jews are too many. Also, we could use some specifics. What, for instance, about “Jews” with gentile mothers? Do they, like the Reform movement, accept patrilineality or must such Jews be converted by an orthodox rabbi to count? Should we use the Nurenburg laws to determine these questions? Inquiring minds want to know.
Oh, and the Palestinian Authority will be the first customer for Israel's Leviathan gas field. It's a good thing the PA is not a member of the American Studies Association or they would be in real trouble…
1) The Complete Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald Decca Sessions (1934-1941)
Before the holidays, I somehow neglected to write up a wonderful new release from my friends at Mosaic documenting the musical partnership of Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb. Had the drummer/bandleader not found Fitzgerald in 1934, he might have died unknown, three years later, ravaged by the spinal tuberculosis with which he lived. And had the 17-year-old singer not been discovered by Webb and his wife Sally, who knows if we’d still be talking about her today?
Thanks to the release of The Complete Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald Decca Sessions (1934-1941), an eight-CD set comprised of 187 tracks (three of which are previously unreleased in any format), I’ve been learning a ton about these two and enjoying it more than I can say. The set includes both pre-Ella material dating back to 1929 and fifty-nine tracks of Ella's recordings with both the full band and smaller ensembles that remained together for two years following Chick's passing in 1939.
Webb was hunchbacked, stiff and under five feet tall, but he overcame these physical limitations with his creativity, musicality, showmanship, personality and leadership. Ella came to his attention following her 1934 victory at Amateur Night at the Apollo. Shortly thereafter, at 17, she moved in with the Webbs, and began recording with the band and the rest is, as they saying goes, musical history. As John McDonough states in his extensive and highly informative notes, "Never in jazz history did a major swing band ever come to be so dominated by a single singer. But then no other swing band ever had Ella Fitzgerald."