Founded and published in Portland, Oregon since 1997, Jerry Jazz Musician’s mission is to explore the culture of 20th Century America with, as noted jazz critic Nat Hentoff wrote, “jazz as the centerpiece.”
We focus on publishing content geared toward readers with interests in jazz music, its rich history, and the culture it influenced – and was influenced by.
We regularly publish original interviews, poetry, literature, and art, and encourage our readers to share their own perspectives.
Praise for Jerry Jazz Musician
Nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association for “Best Website Concentrating on Jazz,” 2006 and 2007
Twice honored by Amazon.com as “Associate of the Month,” chosen from hundreds of thousands of Associate Websites.
“Of the jazz websites I visit, the most far-ranging – and therefore, most often surprising – is Jerry Jazz Musician…The site encompasses what could be called American civilization with jazz as the centerpiece.”
- journalist Nat Hentoff
“Your site is a wonder.”
- author Greil Marcus
“It’s a tremendous site, full of surprise and information.”
- critic and author Gary Giddins
“You do an astonishing job with these materials. More power to you – and many thanks for picking me to receive the full JJM treatment!”
– Jack Johnson biographer Geoffrey Ward
“First time visiting your site, to read the [Pulitzer Prize-winning author] Diane McWhorter interview, which was so good. The way the graphics and links are tied in is really wonderful, and the interview was serious. Your site is a hip experience.”
– author Tom Piazza
“There is a much richer level of thought in your magazine than what one encounters in any other American magazine – the most ambitious and the most remarkable jazz magazine I have ever seen. What a sweep! What you are doing for American culture is so unique and so well considered, all the rest of us can do is observe it with awe.”
– critic Stanley Crouch
The origins of “Jerry Jazz Musician”
The origins of the character “Jerry Jazz Musician” came out of a Woody Allen stand-up routine from the 1960’s called “Unhappy Childhood.” During the routine, Allen jokes about riding the subway to his clarinet lesson, dressed “Jerry Jazz Musician style.” The description conjured up images of someone who is hip – a guy who “made the scene.”
This image became inspiration for creating a fictional character who embodies all the qualities of the mid-century urbanite – stylish, well read, loves music, sports and culture, and hangs out in night clubs, record and book stores, and travels around the world.
In 1997, a logo was developed, and two years later, the site was launched as part catalog, part magazine. The magazine portion of the site continues to be published.
Woody Allen’s reference to Jerry Jazz Musician in “Unhappy Childhood” can be heard at the 1:10 mark.
Founder and Publisher:
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area listening to the sounds of my father practicing his trumpet and viola in the basement of our suburban home. While our house consisted mostly of the sounds of Montovani and Al Hirt, thankfully Ellington and Basie recordings were also at my disposal (as were the Beatles, Creedence, Stones, the Who, Santana, the Doors, and all the rock gods of the era).
My life changed, like so many others, upon hearing Kind of Blue for the first time (at age 14). I subsequently spent most of my time (and paychecks) in the record stores of Berkeley and San Francisco, chasing down the recorded lives of everyone from Armstrong to Ornette — a quest that continues to this day.
I wanted to be a writer, but, in 1978 I moved to Portland, where I started a career in the record business, at first stocking record warehouse shelves with LP and 8-track recordings by the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, and Billy Joel (not the hip existence I was expecting from the record business), and then gaining access to the company’s front office via sales, promotion, marketing and various management positions, which included selling records to some of the coolest record stores in the western U.S.
I have since been a veteran of the record and entertainment software business for 35 years, and am currently Vice-Chair of the Board of PDX Jazz, the presenting organization of the Portland Jazz Festival.
I started Jerry Jazz Musician as a way to communicate my passion for the culture of jazz, and for the associated history it altered and inspired. I hope you enjoy…