For Shame! Oscar Wardrobe Oops Trumps Jazz Man’s Passing

COMMENTARY| The alleged J-Lo wardrobe malfunction, Angelina Jolie’s leg, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter-ego, which would have been a better Oscars host than Billy Crystal doing blackface, served to overshadow the passing of a jazz legend: James “Red” Holloway. What’s wrong with this picture?

The Los Angeles Times would have you know that it has examined the footage of the Oscars, and J-Lo did not suffer “a true nip slip.” Her wardrobe stylist and the network can breathe a sigh of relief. Ms. Jolie will see her leg posture mocked in countless Facebook postings and photo montages, as was to be expected. The blackface moment one cannot help but shake a head at, but even this oddity will pass.

Yet just as Twitter and Facebook are discussing hair styles, wardrobes and jokes gone badly, another one of America’s great music legends has passed on. Red Holloway, the 84-year-old jazz man who played with Chuck Berry, Eddie Vinson, B.B. King and Etta James, died on Saturday. The Tribune only scratches the surface of a life that began as the child of a 13-year-old teen mom, turned into a wild ride of musical performances with the greats of the genre, and ended with regularly scheduled gigs all the way up to the musician’s death. Holloway’s website shows that he was scheduled to perform this spring to benefit God’s Havens for Children.

(If you have never heard Holloway do his rendition of “Cleanhead Blues,” do yourself a favor and listen to the YouTube clip.)

Did you know that just a couple of weeks ago, another American jazz legend died? The Chicago Tribune reported that Jodie Christian, the jazz pianist best known for his efforts to not become a front man, died at the age of 80. Unless you are a diehard jazz aficionado, you probably did not even know that he is gone.

At the rate we are going, our desire for all things related to pop culture is overshadowing the gradual demise of America’s finest musical heritage. Then again, given that today’s youth views “The Wall” more frequently as something to spray-paint than something to listen to, perhaps they will not feel the loss of the occasional jazz man — until they are all gone.

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