Groovin’ High

Episode Air Date: August 24, 2016
Artist: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and others
Recording Title: Groovin' High

The scene: a dimly lit jazz club. A lone spot light illuminates the musicians, plying their trade amidst billowing plumes of smoke. Cigarette smoke, you’d assume…unless you were Harry Anslinger.  Anslinger was appointed the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1937. Policy-wise: think…the McCarthy of marijuana.  His target: International kingpins? Schoolyard pushers?  No.  “Musicians,” he told a senate committee in 1948 “and not good musicians, jazz musicians.” Jazz was exploding at the time, and there was an immediate backlash.  He could’ve used a softer PR tactic…but, come on… the jazz songbook is full of lightly-veiled references to marijuana, from Stuff Smith’s “If You’re a Viper” to Louis Armstrong’s “Muggles”.  And some songs…some songs made no attempt at pretense. You’ve been listening to Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and others with 1945’s…“Groovin’ High.”

 

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