Cambridge Cools Cats Who Thrive On Dixieland, Modern Jazz, Jive; Coffee-Houses May Bring Revival

At that time there were "workshops" at Adams House--a series of Sunday afternoon sessions, where students could play some jazz, or just listen. Kuhn acted as technical adviser at the workshops and feels they were "rather successful." "A lot of people had a chance to play, and some learned something. It folded last year when Beckwith graduated." Although many jazzmen miss the workshop sessions, no one has filled the void with initiative.

Neither Harbison nor Kuhn feel there is deep interest at Harvard in modern jazz, and they point to the adverse criticism voiced over the Buck Clayton session at last year's Jubilee. (This year's replacement--Lionel Hampton and the Australian Jazz Quartet--reveals a shift to the commercial side of the jazz world.) John rates the students a shy and unsophisticated audience, who know too little of the modern style to really like it. "Progressive jazz demands concentration. It's intense, and you can't have glasses clinking all the time. There's a meanness to the music that people seem afraid of. They have to get used to it, like anything else that's new."

Princeton Atmosphere

John compares the real lack of substantial jazz activity at Harvard with the more lively Princeton atmosphere, and notes that there will be no progress until interest increases, and this can come only through hearing men play. "They have to hire what they have or nothing will improve. There used to be a piano at WHRB, and on Fridays really good men would get together and play--fellows like Pomeroy and Twardzik. They'll play for money, or enthusiasm. But they won't play for nothing."

A few years back there was a jazz club --The Harvard New Jazz Society--that tried to supply both money and enthusiasm. It reached a membership total of one hundred and fifty, split between jazz-players and jazz-lovers; and it sponsored the Friday nights at WHRB, as well as several forums on jazz and a "Hot vs. Cool" battle. It also scheduled concerts--all well attended--which brought Brubeck, Konitz, and the Modern Jazz Quarter to Cambridge. The group unfortunately disbanded when the original organizers left Harvard, and to date has not been revived.


During this same period the Adams House activity began, and a student emcee, Tom Wilson, conducted several popular Sunday afternoon sessions. Tom now works with Transition Records, and voices complete optimism over the future of jazz at Harvard. He feels the receptions given Dorfman, Kuhn, and the HNJS concerts adequately reveal how high jazz interest runs on campus; and he envisions Harvard as a thriving jazz center after a few years of jazz-education. "It's important to introduce jazz to the student."

Tom claims "the future was never brighter" and notes that the student is assailed from all sides with jazz--from the hi-fi, the radio, and magazines like The New Yorker and Saturday Review. "The Square record stores sell huge stocks of jazz records, and I know for sure the Turntable made sixty per cent of their sales in Jazz."

Intellectual Aura

Wilson is not alone in a feeling that Harvard should and will take the lead in any new movement having a certain intellectual character. "The West Coast experiments give modern jazz an intellectual aura, and this should rivet the Ivy Leaguer to the idea of jazz as an art form. What we need first is a different attitude in the Music Department. Then we need a club with a definite idea--a fixed purpose--and some means to endure when the original members leave. Once this attracts the Harvard market things will really move fast."

This focus first on the Music Depart-2