Stanley Crouch

Stanley Crouch's lyrical, sharp, and deeply American writing shines a bright light on the unexpected corners of our music, literature, culture, and history.

For more than five decades, Stanley Crouch has been an iconoclastic and polemical voice in American culture. A powerful writer in a variety of genres, Crouch has published acclaimed works of biography, cultural criticism, fiction, and poetry, including the novel Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome? (2000) and the poetry collection Ain’t No Ambulances for No Nigguhs Tonight (1972). Most recently, he released the first part of a planned two-volume biography of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker (2013). An ambitious, decades-long undertaking, Kansas City Lightning spins out from its central concern of Parker’s life, drawing on subjects as varied as Buffalo Soldiers, Al Capone, and Sherlock Holmes to sketch a portrait of America in the first half of the twentieth century. The book is written in a grand Biblical style that–much like jazz itself–manages to maintain a seductive vernacular rhythm. Writing about the Kansas City jazzmen of the 1920s and ‘30s, Crouch proclaims: “They had seen the high and mighty get low-down and dirty, the low-down and dirty get high and mighty.” Crouch’s expansive vision of American culture includes both the high and low-down, the dirty and the mighty.