Julius Hemphill's Blue Boyé (Screwgun SCREWU 70008), Arthur Blythe's Lenox Avenue Breakdown (Koch Jazz KOC-CD-7871) and Illusions (Koch Jazz KOC-CD-7869), and the anthology Jazz Loft Sessions (Douglas Music ADC-3) are recent reissues from the late 1970s—a period I look back on as a fertile time for jazz, though not many other people do. Nobody argued with the writer and photographer William P. Gottlieb when he gave the name The Golden Age of Jazz to a 1979 collection of pictures he had taken of musicians in nightclubs and other natural habitats over a ten-year period beginning in 1939. The 1940s, after all, were a decade in which, as Gottlieb reminisced in his foreword, "big band jazz—mostly under the name swing—reached its peak," "bop and other modern forms developed," and audiences were still able to hear the earliest forms of jazz "played by legendary musicians who had started blowing way back when jazz first began." To top it off, jazz was truly popular in the 1940s, even if Gottlieb was exaggerating slightly in calling this "the only time when popularity and quality have coincided; when, for once, the most widely acclaimed music was the best music."
Like Gottlieb's memories, his assembled photographs were especially beguiling at a time when jazz was slowly rebounding from its various set‐ backs in the late 1960s and early 1970s (though it seemed unlikely, one could fantasize that Gottlieb had shot Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker—Chronos and Zeus, respectively—in New York on the same night, perhaps in adjoining clubs along the block-long Mount Olympus