Monday, March 1, 2010

Demythifying John Hammond

Writer and record-producer Chris Albertson has been at work demythifying John Hammond:

[M]any of John Hammond’s accomplishments were genuine and important enough to earn him the place he occupies in jazz history, which is why I found it so puzzling that he was making things up.

Discovering John Hammond: A Closer Look: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five (Stomp Off in C)
Other people too make things up: a 2005 PBS American Masters episode about John Hammond credits him with “discovering,” among others, Bessie Smith, Pete Seeger, and Robert Johnson. Oy. Hammond produced Smith’s final recordings in 1933. He signed Seeger to Columbia Records (first Columbia Seeger LP: 1961). And Robert Johnson was already dead when Hammond tried to find him for the 1938 Carnegie Hall concert “From Spirituals to Swing.”

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