The oldest active jazz critic, Stanley Dance has done a great deal through the years to help swing and mainstream jazz musicians. In fact "mainstream" was his term which he came up with in the 1950s to describe music played by musicians who were stylistically between dixieland and bebop. Dance first started writing about jazz for Jazz Hot in France back in 1935. He moved to the U.S. in 1937 and has since written for virtually every jazz periodical including Down Beat, Metronome, Jazz Journal (1948-76) and Jazz Times (starting in 1980) plus the New York Herald Tribune and Saturday Review. Dance has occasionally produced recording sessions through the years (most notably for Felsted in the 1950s but also for Columbia, Black Lion and RCA) and has in his own way influenced jazz history. For example, in 1964 he talked Earl Hines into appearing at a couple of concerts in New York that resulted in Hines being rediscovered. Dance's most important contributions to jazz have been his books, most notably The World Of Duke Ellington, The World Of Swing, The World Of Earl Hines and The World Of Count Basie; in addition he assisted on the autobiographies of Dicky Wells and Charlie Barnet. These valuable books contain many detailed interviews with important swing era veterans held just a few years before most of them passed away. Dance had a close relationship with Ellington (who he helped out with his memoirs) and he has contributed to a countless number of liner notes dealing with Ellington, Basie, Hines, Jimmy Lunceford and their sidemen. Stanley Dance's reviews in Jazz Times have often been controversial due to his distaste for bop but he has done a great deal to champion the styles that he does love. His wife Helen Oakley Dance, who worked with Ellington's sidemen on their small group dates of the 1930s, has also contributed to many magazines and written a biography on T-Bone Walker.
by Scott Yanow