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BY JOHN "DIZZY" GILLESPIE
Some time ago I pointed out in a magazine article that in spite of all the excitement about jazz and all the things that are happening with it in this country, there are still a lot of developments that have to take place before it will be as big, and mean as much over here as it does in some of the countries overseas where they call it our most important export.
- As I said then, it seems to me that a big majority of the American people still think of jazz as music you hear through your feet, not your brains; lowbrow music that's not good enough to listen to and study and get kicks from, the way the serious fan does abroad.
I can't remember any experience in America that compares with what happened when my band played in Ankara and Istanbul, when the only way we could stop the show was by playing the Turkish national anthem and closing the curtains when the audience just wouldn't stop screaming for more. And I will always remember the fantastic scenes in Athens, where some of the students who were supposed to have been involved in anti-American demonstrations gave us the greatest reception of our lives.
I know that Benny Goodman in Thailand, Louis Armstrong in Scandinavia and Ghana, and Norman Granz* Jazz at the Philharmonic in Europe and Japan have had similar experiences. Even in Iceland and Java and Argentina they have their own publications and jazz clubs. It was in Europe that the first real books on American jazz were published; it was in Europe that the first critics started writing seriously about it 25 years ago when it was almost completely ignored in this country. It is certainly high time for us to build up our own monument to the jazz culture, in the form of a national jazz collection, maybe as part of the Library of Congress, with all the music as well as the books and magazines and records under one roof, and tape-recorded interviews with some of the great pioneers while they are still around to tell their stories. For the same reason, I believe this new book by Leonard Feather is a step in the right direction.