In jazz slang, to say you’ve “got your glasses on” means you’re acting a little snooty.
But we think that expression’s jive, man, because we’re all about people getting their glasses on. After all, some of the coolest cats who ever blew an axe literally got their glasses on.
Don’t have a cow, man. We know Simpsons character Bleeding Gums Murphy wasn’t an actual jazz great. But plenty of real-life jazz musicians sported some pretty rad rims.
So in honor of April’s designation as Jazz Appreciation Month (with the appropriate acronym JAM), we’re taking a look at some of the baddest daddies (and a couple of fine ladies) of jazz who definitely got their glasses on – in a good way.
Composer, lyricist, and ragtime pianist Eubie Blake was one of the fathers of jazz.
Blake and his partner, singer-songwriter Noble Sissle, wrote the 1921 Broadway musical Shuffle Along, one of the first written and directed by African Americans. That show gave the world the standard “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” Blake was just wild about horn-rim, wayfarer-style glasses. Check out similar Zenni frame 220421.
Clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman’s 1938 concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall was considered jazz’s coming-out party, and as such, one of the most important performances in jazz history.
The concert climaxed with the immortal “Sing, Sing, Sing,” featuring Lionel Hampton (left) on vibraphone, Gene Krupa on drums and Harry James (not pictured) on trumpet.
A big part of Goodman’s image is his rimless eyeglasses.
Goodman’s frame is similar to Zenni’s frame 322111, shown with lens shape 232.
If you want to copy Goodman’s style, go with lens shape 224.
Thelonious Monk was one of the first modern-jazz, bebop artists.
He was notable for a percussive style of piano improvisation with abrupt starts and stops. Monk first gained attention performing with Charlie “Bird” Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, where he was the house pianist.
Monk’s popularity took off when the Thelonious Monk Quartet played the Five Spot Café in New York, in 1957. Along with Monk on piano, the quartet included (from left) John Coltrane on sax, Shadow Wilson on drums, and Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass.
Whether it’s “ ’Round Midnight,” or any time of the day, Monk looks great in his glasses. You’ll look just as cool in Zenni frame 690111.
Or, to get the Monk look in non-prescription sunglasses, go with Zenni frame A10120421.
Ella Fitzgerald was known as both the “First Lady of Song” and the “Queen of Jazz.”
She was the first African-American woman to win a Grammy, at the first Grammy Awards ceremony, in 1959. She actually won two Grammys that night, Best Female Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook, and Best Jazz Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook.
She went on to win 11 more Grammys. Her live version of “Mack the Knife,” recorded in 1960, is one of the landmark jazz performances captured on record.
Although she didn’t wear glasses in performance as a young jazz singer, Fitzgerald wore them in later years.
Her oversize, ornamented, full-rim style is similar to these Zenni frames (click on the images to see their specs!):
It’s notable that several of these landmark performances are in the late 1950s and early ’60s. In jazz, 1959 is considered the art form’s peak year, similar to the way film buffs consider 1939 the greatest year in movie history.
You’ve probably seen those three 1939 movies, which are so famous they need no identification. They are just a few of the many movie masterpieces that year.
Now let’s look at some classic jazz albums that were released in 1959:
Of the jazz greats behind these albums, only bandleaders Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis were frequently seen in glasses.
Check out Brubeck (at the piano) with his quartet (from left, alto sax player Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene Wright, and drummer Joe Morello), all of whom are wearing glasses.
We love the Take Five cut “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” and the title track, which is so recognizable and popular it could almost serve as jazz’s theme song, although some would argue that John Coltrane’s version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” deserves that distinction.
As much as we love both recordings, we’re going to go with Brubeck, if only because he and his bandmates all wore glasses.
Brubeck’s signature frame is not unlike Eubie Blake’s wayfarer-style horn-rims, but let’s mix it up a bit (you didn’t think we were going to say “jazz it up,” did you?) with a rich-looking, brown wayfarer-style frame from Zenni, model 820415.
Desmond’s glasses are similar to Zenni frame 614212.
Wright is wearing a pair of classic brow line glasses, not unlike Zenni frame 535021.
Morello’s glasses, with a straight-line bridge, are similar to Zenni’s Christmastime tortoiseshell frame 624725.
Trumpeter Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue brought a new form of improvisation to jazz, using the songs’ scales rather than chords for his riffs. His 1960 album, Sketches of Spain, is just as revered as Kind of Blue, but we’re also extremely fond of a less heralded 1959 album by Davis and Gil Evans, their jazz version of Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin (music), DuBose Heyward (libretto and lyrics), and Ira Gershwin (lyrics).
When he started wearing glasses, Davis favored oversized frames, like these aviators.
Davis’s frame calls and Zenni responds, with similar frame 579721.
When you think of images of one of Davis’s modern-jazz forebears, Dizzy Gillespie, you probably think of two balloon-like cheeks rather than two round eyeglass lenses. But in his early years, the man credited by many as the originator of bebop, also known as modern jazz, wore round, full-rim specs that set off his not-yet “moon cheeks”.
Pop on similar Zenni frame 6290015, and start blowin’!
If Thenlonious Monk and Miles Davis are bebop, and Benny Goodman is “prebop,” then Herbie Hancock could be considered “post bop.”
Hancock is a true crossover jazz-fusion artist, bringing synthesizers, funk, soul, and modern classical music to his improvisations. His 2007 tribute album to occasional jazz artist Joni Mitchell, River: The Joni Letters, won two Grammys, for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and Album of the Year.
The full-rim, rectangular metal frames shown in his picture and on the album cover are not unlike Zenni’s frame 650312 (in gray) and 650315 (in brown).
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is the first jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.
A prodigy who was performing in church by age 8, Marsalis won the Pulitzer in 1997 for Blood on the Fields, an oratorio about a couple moving from slavery to freedom.
With his participation in various PBS programs, including Marsalis on Music and Ken Burns’s Jazz, his several books on jazz, and his artistic directorship of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis has become the leading ambassador of jazz.
The full-rim rectangular metal frame he’s wearing in his picture is similar to Zenni’s frames 552415 (brown) or 552421 (black).
Finally, sultry Canadian singer-pianist Diana Krall (shown with bassist Ben Wolfe) is one of the few ladies of jazz who doesn’t mind performing in eyeglasses.
That may be because she is married to Elvis Costello, whose glasses are an indelible part of his appearance.
Krall’s tinted full-rim rectangular glasses are similar Zenni’s frame 228721.
Costello’s are close to Zenni’s frame 638821.
Now you’ve got some crazy chops to break it down and find some gone frames in the mix. And that is all that jazz – in eyeglasses.
Monday, April, 14 2014 by Matthew Surrence
You can’t escape Coachella, and Zenni doesn’t want you to have to try. We are getting ready to kick off the 16th year of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, and with it the start of 2014′s festival season. Tell us who you are most excited to see this year, Instagram a picture of yourself at La Coachellita rocking some Zenni glasses for a chance to win a $50 gift card, and get ready to enjoy yourself in style, all thanks to Zenni.
The biggest festival, perhaps in the world, Coachella is also one of the biggest parties, obviously dominated by the huge names performing, as well as the up-and-coming indie sensations that actually make it an artistic event. It has to be to draw sold-out, 160,000-person crowds to what is essentially a poorly disguised desert in Indio, California on back-to-back weekends. But if you’re going, hoping to go, or reflecting back on the last time you went, you already know what it has to offer.
Coachella isn’t just about the music. It’s also a vibe, a state of mind, perhaps most perfectly captured by the streams of photos that appear on Instagram before the fest even begins, featuring scantly clad hipsters braving the heat and celebrities reveling.
You can tell that Coachella has really arrived as not just a giant festival for a range of fans but also a culture-defining force because of all the marketing hype, sponsorships, and attention major fashion brands heap on it every year.
From pre- and after-parties thrown by magazines like Harper’s Bazaar to nearby venues rented out for events by Lacoste to one of the newest additions, beauty stations on the grounds set up by Sephora for fest-goers to touch up before a selfie, it never stops. How you look in Indio this weekend is a big deal, and the fest is an even bigger deal for how people, hipster or otherwise, will be looking for months to come.
Many brands are trying to get a jump on the hype, blasting out blogs and celebrity e-curated “Coachella must-have” lists including everything a person might wear, use, or do at the fest if they want the image everyone has of them to match the trendsetter they see on the inside.
We do things a little simpler at Zenni. Take these green-to-amber plaid frames, an obvious riff on the ubiquitous horn-rimmed glasses. Wear them to Coachella and your face will certainly stand out. They’re unarguably noticeable. But if you also wear them on Monday as you drag your exhausted self into work, nobody will bat an eye. We can’t say the same for nearly anything else an average ‘chella-goer might wear.
Cocahella isn’t just about the event. It’s also the start of the summer music and art festival season. Zenni is excited to share this all coming musical weekends with our customers. Have fun and don’t forget to check out our summer fest page for a chance to win a $50 gift card.
Friday, April, 11 2014 by Dave Schreiner
This time of year, most people are busy getting excited for the warmth and fun of summer, trying out their favorite sunglasses and dusting off beach bags. But if the cool is more your speed, or you aspire to cheeks like Dizzy Gilespie, April is Jazz Appreciation Month, the perfect time to put on some new glasses and go soak up some different vibes.
Jazz Appreciation Month is a relatively young celebration, having begun only 13 years ago when a Smithsonian National Museum of History curator named Edward Hasse wanted an annual event to pay tribute to jazz, as both a living, dynamic form of music and an important part of our country’s history.
Most major cities put on free concerts, events, and educational programs during the month of April to foster community support of the celebration, and to give everyone a chance to enjoy one of the only uniquely American forms of music without venturing into a smoky jazz club.
If you find yourself taking the opportunity to enjoy one of music’s cooler genres this month, don’t ignore your eye wear, whether you’re partaking of a public festival or crowding around a small table n the back of a small bar.
Some of the most famous, iconic jazz musicians in history made a hip pair of specs part of their image. Usually horn rimmed, often thin no matter how thick the glass, the jazz musician’s glasses were an essential part of his visage.
In the same vein, you can’t ignore what your glasses mean for your face. You may not be creating a complete ensemble to complement your groundbreaking trumpet harmonies like Dizzy did through the years. That doesn’t mean you should ignore how glasses change your face and portrayal.
This week’s Frame Friday features a wide range of glasses and frames, varied in color, shape, and material, so you can find the perfect pair to channel the hep cat inside you.
And who knows. You might end up casually tossing a slightly off-balance beret on your head and sitting down to bang out a few bars on the old piano, only to find the jazz flowing from your fingers.
Just because it’s spring doesn’t mean we all have to skip down the street with a vapid smile on our faces. April is Jazz Appreciation Month, giving you all the excuse you need to slide into a pair of dark glasses, turn your voice down real low, and just chill for a while.
Friday, April, 4 2014 by Dave Schreiner
When Shakespeare’s King Lear calls on “cataracts” to spout during his “Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!” speech, he’s not asking for cloudy vision.
In Shakespeare’s day, a “cataract” also meant a huge waterfall.
This is fitting, because the clouds of white foam arising from a waterfall are metaphorically like the cloudy vision caused by a cataract.
Roughly half of everyone who lives to age 80 will eventually get cataracts in one or both eyes.
Live to age 95, like the great San Francisco poet and City Lights bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born March 14, 1919, and you’ll have close to a 100-percent chance of getting cataracts. But that’s a small price to pay for such awesome longevity.
What exactly is a cataract? To answer that question, let’s begin by looking at the eye.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. On the picture, do you see where the lens is in the eye? Yes, right behind the pupil.
Light enters the eye through the pupil. As the picture shows, the lens focuses light onto the retina, which is a layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye.
The lens must be clear to focus light onto the retina. If the lens has become cloudy with a cataract, the image you see will be blurry.
People say that having a cataract is like looking through a dirty car windshield.
Now let’s look at how cataracts form.
The eye’s lens is composed of two substances. The first is water.
The second is protein.
As we age, some of the protein that constitutes the eye’s lens (along with water) can clump together, causing the clouding of the lens.
Although most cataracts are simply a product of aging, there are other causes of cataracts, too.
Diabetics can develop cataracts.
So can steroid users.
Cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.
Sometimes babies can be born with cataracts.
Cataracts can develop after exposure to radiation.
Other factors that could cause cataracts include those common bugaboos smoking and drinking.
Here are the symptoms of cataracts, in case you think you might have one.
Cloudy or blurry vision.
Colors look faded.
Glare from headlights, lamps or sunlight bother you more than it used to. You may also see halos around lights.
Other symptoms could include double vision or multiple images in one eye.
Frequent changes in your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses could also be a sign of cataracts. If you notice any of these symptoms, or if you are age 60 or older, ask your eye doctor to check your eyes for cataracts, as well as for age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, or any other vision issues during your next eye exam, which should be soon.
If you do have a cataract, and it’s interfering with your normal, everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV, your cloudy lens can be surgically removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens.
If you need cataract surgery in both eyes, usually the doctor will do each eye a month or two apart.
However, surgery should be avoided unless it’s absolutely necessary for your vision, or if a cataract interferes with getting another eye issue treated, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
Nevertheless, cataract removal is one of the most common operations performed in the United States, and about 90 percent of people who have cataracts removed have improved vision.
Now if you don’t have cataracts and you want to forestall getting them, there are some precautions you can take, according to research done by staffers of the Mayo Clinic.
Get regular eye exams, at least once every two years, or more frequently if you notice changes in your vision.
Quit smoking and drinking alcohol.
Yeah, we know. We selected the picture. More power to her.
We like this old joke, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” But in reality, most smokers and drinkers won’t live to 100.
Wear sunglasses and clear glasses with 100% Ultraviolet (UV) protection.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The latter finding is buttressed by research performed at the University of Oxford, the results of which were published in 2011 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study found that the risk of getting cataracts was greatest for high meat eaters (those who ate more than 3.5 ounces of meat each day). It decreased from each dietary group to the next, in this order: moderate meat eaters, low meat eaters, fish eaters (people who eat fish but no other meat), vegetarians, and vegans. In fact, the risk for vegans was roughly 40 percent lower than for the high meat eaters.
As addressed in this Zenni blog post on Nutrition and Vision, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, both of which contain the antioxidant-carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, are associated with significantly lower risks of cataracts.
So, quit smoking, decrease or eliminate drinking alcohol, decrease or eliminate eating meat, increase eating fruits and veggies, and you might live long enough to have your first cataract as a 95th birthday present – among other goodies!
Tuesday, April, 1 2014 by Matthew Surrence
You’re just days away from what can be a fun holiday. Here are a few of the most popular April Fool’s Day pranks people play. We don’t want anybody in Zenni glasses failing to see these jokes coming.
The best April Fool’s Day pranks in history have come from television stations and other media outlets. They succeeded in convincing the public of ridiculous things like the existence of Swiss Spaghetti trees or that Taco Bell purchased the Liberty Bell. Some people suggest much more malicious pranks, but the best April Fool’s Day jokes to play just trick a person into believing something that is obviously silly.
Shrink wrap the office – This one has been done countless times, and wrapping paper or aluminum foil works just as well. Benign prankers wrap everything in an office, from the chair to the computer mouse to the pens in the desk, with shrink wrap so that working is still possible, just aggravating.
Unpaid tickets and bills – There are a number of variations on this one, from printing up a fake parking ticket that they put on your car’s windshield to using similar tools to convince you that you have unpaid bills. That feeling of panic that you’re overdue and going to owe late fees is never fun.
Everything’s gone – All a person has to do to make you think you’ve lost all your important computer files is move them to an obscure directory, make them un-discoverable by the operating systems’ search, and delete recent file data. If you sit down to a computer that seems like it’s been wiped clean of your memories, you may have been a victim of this one.
I’m blind – Popularized by the comedy show The Simpsons, this simple prank involves taping a person’s eye shut while they sleep so when they wake up in the morning they can’t see. It’s doubtful you’ll actually think you’ve gone blind, but if you usually spring out of bet at the sound of your alarm, you’ll certainly be surprised.
You’re late – Changing all the clocks in a home or office to be two hours fast so you feel late is easy. The hard part is they have to get to your watch and smart phone. Once they manage that and your alarm goes off early, you’ll be sure you’re late.
I’m (going) blind(er) – In homes where two people use different prescription contacts, the person with the weaker prescription can swap their contacts in for the other’s. When the person worse vision fumbles their contacts in in the morning, they feel like their vision has gotten dramatically worse over night. If this happens to you, be sure you don’t try to drive before sorting it out!
April Fool’s Day jokes look a lot better after the fact when you can laugh at your own behavior. But if you’re seeing clearly with your Zenni glasses, maybe you can avoid being the fool this year.
Friday, March, 28 2014 by Dave Schreiner
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