Stanley Crouch’s New York Daily News columns excited me in the Internet’s early days.
Like Jimmy Breslin, Crouch wrote with a bracing, combative point of view. His collection “Notes of a Hanging Judge” hit me like a Bebop album full of discordant blasts and wild improvisations.
Crouch, who also wrote for the Village Voice in its heyday, died Wednesday at age 74 after months of declining health.
While stirring controversy with his iconoclastic political, social and racial views, he gained widespread acclaim for his jazz criticism.
Along with the New Yorker’s Whitney Baillet and the Voice’s Nat Hentoff, he set a standard for what might be called the New York school of jazz criticism.
Crouch’s views challenged me, but I found that he at times lost control of his rhetorical flights. His contrary positions could also appear gratuitous, just for the sake of being obstinate.
He also wrote a novel and a well-regarded biography of Charlie Parker. A mentor to Wynton Marsalis, he also was a co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Following the path of Breslin and the recently deceased Pete Hamill, Crouch achieved great literature with his newspaper column.