NEW YORK CITY (CelebrityAccess) — Stanley Crouch, a noted poet, author, and cultural observer, known for his jazz criticism, died on Wednesday at Calvary Hospital in New York City. He was 74.
According to the Washington Post, Crouch’s wife, Gloria Nixon-Crouch, confirmed his passing but did not provide a cause of death.
However, Crouch had been suffering from an unspecified but serious health condition for several years.
A champion of jazz and an aspiring drummer, Crouch partnered with David Murray to form Black Music Infinity, an avant-garde jazz group in the mid-1970s.
In 1975, he relocated from Los Angeles to New York, where he worked professionally as a drummer while also booking an avant-garde jazz series at the Tin Palace, an East Village nightclub.
However, by his own admission, he lacked the talent to be one of the medium’s greats.
“The problem was that I couldn’t really play. Since I was doing this avant-garde stuff, I didn’t have to be all that good, but I was a real knucklehead,” he told the New Yorker in a 1995 interview.
Crouch’s views on culture and racial identity helped to propel him into a career as a writer, including at the Village Voice, New Republic, The Daily Beast and the New York Post, among other publications.
In the 1980s, he also became friends with jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, and embraced the traditional form of jazz, rejecting the modernism of electronic fusion and calling for a return to traditions of an earlier era.
Even jazz greats such as Miles Davis did not escape excoriation by his pen with Crouch taking Davis to task over his electric period in the 1970s.
“Gone is the elegant and exigent Afro-American authenticity of the likes of Ellington, at ease in the alley as well as the palace, replaced by a youth culture vulgarity that vandalizes the sweep and substance of Afro-American life,” Crouch wrote in the New Republic in 1990. “The fall of Davis reflects perhaps the essential failure of contemporary Negro culture: its mock-democratic idea that the elite, too, should like it down in the gutter.”
He also played a significant role in creating a space for Jazz in the performing arts world and along with long with Marsalis, Albert Murray, Gordon Davis, and Alina Bloomgarden, served on a committee that helped to found Lincoln Center’s summer jazz programs and eventually Jazz At Lincoln Center itself.
Crouch also published multiple collections of poetry and a novel “Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome,” which was met with mixed reviews.
According to the Washington Post, Crouch is survived by his second wife, sculptor Gloria Nixon-Crouch; a daughter from his first marriage; and a granddaughter.