Liel Leibovitz: The Priest and the Prophet at Epcot
The Tablet editor-at-large joins me to talk generational divides, Leonard Cohen, and the danger of bogus charges of anti-semitism. Plus: "Last Tango = Blues," maybe the greatest 70s soul jazz record.
Episode 11: Liel Leibovitz
Liel Liebovitz is the Editor-at-Large at Tablet, which has called itself, “a new read on Jewish life”—but it’s so much more. It has become, over the last several years, essential reading for anyone from across the political spectrum.
Aside from being a wonderful writer on topical as well as personal issues at First Things (as well as Tablet), Liel is also a host of “Unorthodox,” the most-listened-to podcast in the Jewish world, and the author of A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen.
We began by talking about the evolution of Tablet amid both the current American political and media landscapes. We talked generational politics—and shared some insights about how it feels to be analog people in a digital world that has largely overtaken us. We spent quite a bit of time discussing Leonard Cohen and his records from the 1980s. Finally, we discussed bogus the terrible damage done by false and politically-motivated charges of anti-semitism and racism, most recently in the unhinged attacks on Chronicles’ Pedro Gonzales.
This record is from the early and mid 1970s, when hard bop players seemed to have only three paths toward financial solvency: (a) make fusion records for hippies; (b) make funk and r&b records for urban blacks; or (c) take gigs playing other people’s music—mostly film or session music in Los Angeles.
Hard bop trumpeter Blue Mitchell opted for (b).
Blue Mitchell never got the recognition he deserved as a bandleader for Blue Note—many of his fine sessions with Chick Corea and Joe Henderson weren’t released contemporaneously—and Bantu Village, his final LP for the label, appeared at a time when it was searching for a new identity.
By 1970s—and in contrast with the more well-known headliners at CTI—many hard bop veteran side-men had decamped to the Mainstream label, one of the best kept secrets of jazz in that decade. The Last Tango=Blues is Mitchell’s best work from the decade, and is a proper, straight-up and fun soul jazz record.
The show opener is “Last Tango in Paris,” but someone helpfully made the whole album available in all its 28 minutes of glory.