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In a letter to Esquire, A serviceman named Sam Platt, who felt that jazz had gone astray, coined the term "moldy fig." It was picked up by Leonard and others to mean anyone who only liked the older style of jazz. A 1946 article in the Jazz Record declared: "Every single year there's a new crop of phoneys trying to pervert or suppress or emasculate jazz. This year it's Diz Gillespie...a few years ago it was Cab Calloway..." Leonard later admitted regretfully that during this period, his own articles were often venomous as well. He likened the figs to fascists in a tirade published in Metronome. A writer for The Record Changer responded by altering Leonard's name and those of other Metronome writers to resemble those of prominent Communists. One Esquire reader wrote a letter in which he declared Leonard incompetent and referred contemptuously to Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge as "jump boys."

Sound And The Fury

In 1947, the new Esquire Jazz Book, edited by a promoter associated with veteran Dixieland musician Eddie Condon, basically ignored the poll winners, focusing instead on Condon's band and other exponents of the traditional style. The slighted musicians were outraged. They wrote Esquire a letter expressing their disgust, and their intention to refuse future awards. It was signed by virtually every living jazz great, and signalled the end of an era.

Letter to Esquire

Ella Fitzgerald
Taking a Chance
on Love
Taking a Chance on Love

Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Benny Carter
Body and Soul
Body and Soul