J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stamp of Approval

Quick IAJE flashback: during the opening night concerts, a representative of the U.S. Postal Service took the stage to reprise a ceremony held earlier that day at Jazz @ Lincoln Center: the unveiling of a commemorative stamp honoring Ella Fitzgerald. For a nation supposedly lax in honoring its original artists, jazz and blues musicians are remarkably well represented on stamps (see list below).

It takes about three years for a proposed stamp to come to fruition. The public is welcome to make suggestions, which are evaluated by a non-partisan selection commission. One of the main criteria is that subjects must be deceased. Obviously, a President Ford stamp can now be expected. It’s worth considering making a nomination. Jazz fans should try to keep the jazz stamp collection growing. Mainstream conservatives should bear in mind the left has been much more successful in honoring their heroes, than have we, the President Reagan and Ayn Rand stamps being notable exceptions.

Here’s a consensus candidate: Lionel Hampton, a perennial J.B. Spins favorite. I profiled Hampton at Tech Central Station here, but here is the pitch in a nutshell:

Hampton broke down color barriers, performing in Benny Goodman’s Quartet, the first racially integrated musical combo to publicly perform as such.

He was the pioneering jazz vibraphonist, considered by many to have recorded the first improvised jazz solo.

He recorded extensively and led one of the more successful and longest lived big bands.

He was a humanitarian, funding public housing projects in Harlem and was an outspoken supporter of the State of Israel, and contributed the proceeds from his Israeli tours to the Israelis.

And of course, he was an active Republican, who campaigned on behalf of his friends, Presidents Nixon and George H. W. Bush.

There are other worthy candidates for postal immortalization. Obvious irony aside, Milton Friedman would be a brilliant choice for recognition by the Federal postal bureaucracy. Other good choices would be: Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Illinois Jacquet, Sarah Vaughan, Woody Herman, Bix Biederbecke, Whittaker Chambers, Friedrich Hayek, and Russell Kirk. Nominating info here.


Jazz and blues artist stamps with year issued:

Louis Armstrong ‘95
Mildred Bailey ‘94
Count Basie ‘96
Eubie Blake ‘95
Hoagy Carmichael ‘96
John Coltrane ‘95
Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey ‘96
Duke Ellington ‘86
Errol Garner ‘95
Benny Goodman ‘96
Ferde Grofe ’97 (included for his work with Paul Whiteman)
W.C. Handy ‘69
Coleman Hawkins ‘95
Billie Holiday ‘94
James P. Johnson ‘95
Robert Johnson ‘94
Scott Joplin ’83 (ragtime, close enough for government work)
Glenn Miller ‘96
Charles Mingus ‘95
Thelonious Monk ‘95
Jelly Roll Morton ‘95
Charlie Parker ‘95
Ma Rainey ‘94
Jimmy Rushing ‘94
Bessie Smith ‘94
Sonny Terry ‘98
Rosetta Tharpe ‘98
Dinah Washington ‘93
Ethel Waters ‘94
Muddy Waters ‘94