“The Naked Jazz Musician” – A playlist by Bob Hecht

As Sonny Rollins has said, “Jazz is about taking risks, pushing boundaries, and challenging the status quo.” Could there be anything riskier—or more boundary-pushing—than to stand naked and perform with nowhere to hide? Bob’s extensive playlist is comprised of such perilous undertakings by an array of notable woodwind and brass masters who have had the confidence and courage (some might say even the exhibitionism) to expose themselves so completely by playing….alone.

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“Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht

A nine-hour long Spotify playlist featuring songs by the likes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, and Dizzy Gillespie that demonstrates how the Latin music influence on jazz has been present since the music’s beginnings.

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“A Baker’s Dozen Playlist of Ella Fitzgerald Specialties from Five Decades,” as selected by Ella biographer Judith Tick

Chosen from Ella’s entire repertoire, Ms. Tick’s playlist (with brief commentary) is a mix of studio recordings, live dates, and video, all available for listening here.

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“What Is This Thing Called Something Else?” – a playlist by Bob Hecht

Contrafacts, as such reworkings are called, are the product of writing a new melodic line over an existing set of chord changes, thereby disguising or sometimes completely obscuring the identity of the original piece.

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“The Compositional Genius of Bill Evans — A Brief Overview & Playlist,” by Bob Hecht

Contributing writer Bob Hecht discusses Bill Evans’ enduring compositional genius, and has assembled an extensive Spotify playlist that includes many of his tunes.

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Playlist: “Jazz Tributes” — compositions and performances by jazz musicians, for jazz musicians

Bob Hecht has created an extensive Spotify playlist he calls “Jazz Tributes” that also serves as a kind of “Thanksgiving” greeting – compositions and performances by jazz musicians, for jazz musicians. 

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Playlist: “Miles Plays Wayne”

Bob Hecht, a frequent contributor to Jerry Jazz Musician, writes about a current fascination – the compositions of Wayne Shorter, and his contributions to the Miles Davis groups he played in during his time with the trumpeter, 1964 – 1970. Bob has assembled a 20 song Spotify playlist featuring many of the recordings…

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Playlist: Compositions of Ornette Coleman

Contributing writer Bob Hecht’s 40-song playlist features 20 compositions by Ornette Coleman that alternates a cover version of an Ornette composition – often by a pianist or other harmonically-based instrument – followed by Ornette’s original version. It provides a nice perspective on the beauty of his music, even for those who may not particularly be fans.

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Playlist: A sampling of soprano saxophonists

. . photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress Sidney Bechet at Jimmy Ryan’s, New York, N.Y., ca. 1947 .   …..I don’t know about you, but ever since Kenny G made himself known in the world of pop music, the soprano saxophone has been a challenge for me to enjoy.  His “smooth” approach to the … Continue reading “Playlist: A sampling of soprano saxophonists”

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Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960

While small group swing was shunned by the jazz critical establishment for being too flamboyant and too close a cousin to the emerging (and despised) rock and roll, Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan, Big Jay McNeely, Joe Liggins, Red Prysock, T-Bone Walker and Ray Charles played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, Bud Powell and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”

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A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2

The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

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Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood

A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

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Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer

The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

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Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song

In Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, the book’s author Judith Tick writes that Ella “fearlessly explored many different styles of American song through the lens of African American jazz, [and] treated jazz as a process, not confined to this idiom or that genre,” and who “changed the trajectory of American vocal jazz in this century.” Ms. Tick. who is professor emerita of music history at Northeastern University, talks with about Ella – and her book – in this wide-ranging October 23, 2023 interview.

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Interview with Brent Hayes Edwards, co-author (with Henry Threadgill) of Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music

Co-author Mr. Edwards discusses his work with Henry Threadgill, widely recognized as one of the most original and innovative voices in contemporary music, and the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

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Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950’s Quartets

In this May, 2023 interview, Shipton and Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht talk about Mulligan’s unique contributions to modern jazz.

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Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance: “Outtakes” — Vol. 2

The authors of “Designed For Dancing” share examples of Cha Cha Cha record album covers that didn’t quite make the final cut in their book.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall/Winter, 2022-23 Edition

.This collection of jazz poetry – the largest yet assembled on Jerry Jazz Musician – demonstrates how poets who are also listeners of jazz music experience and interact with the spontaneous art that arises from jazz improvisation, which often shows up in the soul and rhythm of their poetic language.

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Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance: “Outtakes” — Vol. 1

The authors of “Designed For Dancing” share three examples of record album covers that didn’t quite make the final cut in their book.

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Book Excerpt from Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance, by Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder

In this excerpt, the authors write about some influential midcentury Latin-themed dance albums.

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Interview with Joe La Barbera, co-author of Times Remembered: The Final Years of the Bill Evans Trio

Drummer Joe La Barbera talks about his book, and the significance of his experience working in Bill Evans’ last trio

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A Black History Month Profile: Louis Armstrong

In a November 16, 2020 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician, Ricky Riccardi, author of Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong,  discusses his vital book and Armstrong’s enormous and underappreciated achievements during the era he led his big band.

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Two of a Mind: Conversations on Creative Collaboration, Vol 1: featuring Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart

An intimate portrait of Bill Charlap and mother Sandy Steward, who explore the art of musical collaboration and accompanying singers.

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“Life in E Flat” — a conversation about Phil Woods, with pianist Bill Charlap and jazz journalist Ted Panken

Bob Hecht talks with pianist Bill Charlap and writer Ted Panken about the late Phil Woods, and his book Life in E Flat: The Autobiography of Phil Woods

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Interview with Kevin Whitehead, author of Play the Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film

Kevin Whitehead, the longtime jazz critic for NPR’s Fresh Air, discusses jazz music and the movies – the “natural allies” that both grew out of existing creative traditions, and, since the mid-1920’s have told stories about “child prodigies, naturals who pick up the music the first time they hear it, hard workers with a painstaking practice regimen, talented players diverted into soul-killing commercial work, and even non-improvisers taught to fake it.”

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“What one song best represents your experience with 2020?”

The community of poets, writers, artists and photographers who have recently contributed their work and time to Jerry Jazz Musician to answer this question, “What one song best represents your experience with 2020?”

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Interview with Ricky Riccardi, author of Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong

In a November 16, 2020 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician, Riccardi discusses his vital book and Armstrong’s enormous and underappreciated achievements during the era he led his big band.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Autumn, 2020 Edition

Jazz and poetry have always had a symbiotic relationship.  Their creative languages share the common soil of imagination and improvisation, from which their audiences discover inspiration and spirit, and perhaps even a renewed faith in life itself.

This collection features 50 gifted poets from places as disparate as Ohio and Nepal, Estonia and Boston, Guyana and Pittsburgh, each publicly sharing their inner world reverence for the culture of jazz music.

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Book Excerpt: Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong, by Ricky Riccardi

In the book’s prologue, “Bigger Than Jazz”– a portion of which is published here with the consent of the publisher, Oxford University Press – Riccardi writes about Armstrong’s Apollo Theater performances of 1935 (marking his comeback from an 18 month stay in Europe), his final big band performance of 1947, and subsequent appearances there with his integrated small group, the All Stars.

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“Sinatra and Me” — a true jazz story by Paul Brophy

Frank Sinatra floated through the air in my boyhood home and Philadelphia neighborhood.  My mother and two of her older sisters, Henrietta and Marge, had seen young Frankie in person at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier in the late 1930s, the thrill that wed these young Italian-Americans to Frank for life. “It’s Always You” reached them.   He was part of our Staffieri family — their fantasy husband.

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“On the Turntable” — Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons

Just as it did during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War protests, music is playing an important political and inspirational role in the Black Lives Matter movement and the worldwide protests in support of it. 

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Reminiscing in Tempo: “Life during the time of isolation and social distancing”

Prominent artists and educators reflect on the pandemic and how they are spending their time during isolation and social distancing

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“Life during the time of isolation and social distancing” Vol. 5 — ASU educator and author Tracy Fessenden

Arizona State University historian and author Tracy Fessenden responds to the question; “During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?”

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“Life during the time of isolation and social distancing” Vol. 3 — journalist Joe Hagan and photographer Tim Davis

Journalist Joe Hagan and photographer Tim Davis respond to the question; “During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?”

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“The Elvin Jones Standard” — an appreciation by Evan Nass

His style is unique, expressive, bombastic, heavy and rolling. He became one of the most famous drummers, making vast contributions to the hard bop and post-bop jazz movements. He had great influence on all the jazz musicians he played with, but more importantly, they influenced him.

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“On the Turntable” — June, 2019 edition

  . .   . _____     . .   New Jazz Music Recommendations . .     While much of the listening for this month’s edition of “On the Turntable” took place, as always, while walking the sidewalks and paths of Northeast Portland neighborhoods and parks, much of it also took place during … Continue reading ““On the Turntable” — June, 2019 edition”

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“On the Turntable” — May, 2019 edition

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache

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“On the Turntable” — April, 2019 edition

This month, 22 recently released jazz recordings are recommended, including those by Chris Potter, Sons of Kemet, Joey DeFrancesco, Stephan Crump, Julian Lage, Antonio Sanchez and Brittany Anjou

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On the Turntable — March, 2019 edition

A month of walking the dog around the (often frigid) park, ear buds in place, resulted in lots of interesting. discoveries from artists known and unknown (at least to me).   This month, an eclectic blend of 18 recently released recordings from all over the globe.

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On the Turntable, February, 2019

Recommended listening…20 recently released jazz tunes by, among others, Brad Mehldau, Matt Penman, Ethan Iverson/Mark Turner, Ben Wendel, Julian Lage, and Don Byron

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On the Turntable — January, 2019 edition

. . .   . I am having time to listen to new music more regularly these days, and finding great pleasure in many of the “grooves.”  (Full disclosure…investing $10 per month in a Spotify account — while not the sensual experience of laying the needle on the vinyl — effortlessly gets your ears to … Continue reading “On the Turntable — January, 2019 edition”

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“High Notes” — a short story by Shan Richardson

     I drifted off into the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. In months even. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get into Fat Daddy’s as a regular. It’s the hottest – no, it’s the coolest jazz club there is. On any given night you’d find the club cradled with sweet melodies and rocked by spoken word poetry. And on Friday nights, you used to be able to catch us…

     Thing is, my band and I got banned last year. But before then, we had lines out the door with folks wanting to hear us play. The whites, the blacks, the browns and those that fell in between because their parents had jungle fever. The attention can become quite addicting. There wasn’t any fortune though, it’s a small town.

     Fast forward to now – a year later. I managed to befriend

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Submit

Submit Your Work   Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes work by contributing artists, and encourages you to consider submitting your own work.  When your work is published, you will join a growing community of writers, poets, artists, podcast producers and filmmakers who share a passion for the creative culture found on this website.  The following … Continue reading "Submit"...

“Improv” — a short story by Lorna Wood

     This was all her fault, Sarah thought, as she watched the Victory Lounge clear out. She should have known Branchville wasn’t ready for improv jazz. But the bass player, Tommy Williams, had been so supportive after the workshop with the graduate wind students. Sarah had gotten so interested in the group’s ideas about jazz and improvising that she had gone straight to the practice room after the workshop and found their website. Earbuds in both ears, she was improvising to one of the rhythmic bass tracks there when she happened to raise the bell of her clarinet on a long high note the way she’d seen the quartet’s wind players do, and there was Tommy knocking on the door.

            He had been so just what a jazz bass player from Chicago should be, Sarah thought, with his dusky skin and his smoky voice, and his rakish fedora tipped over one eye. And at the same time he had been so genuinely

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In This Issue

painting of Clifford Brown by Paul Lovering
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring/Summer, 2024 Edition...In this, the 17th major collection of jazz poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician, 50 poets from all over the world again demonstrate the ongoing influence the music and its associated culture has on their creative lives.

(featuring the art of Paul Lovering)

Publisher’s Notes

photo by Rhonda Dorsett
On turning 70, and contemplating the future of Jerry Jazz Musician...

The Sunday Poem

Painting of Thelonious Monk by Martel Chapman
“Ten-Suite Epistrophies and Improvisations: for T. Monk” by Bill Siegel...

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

“Revival” © Kent Ambler.
If You Want to Go to Heaven, Follow a Songbird – Mary K O’Melveny’s album of poetry and music...While consuming Mary K O’Melveny’s remarkable work in this digital album of poetry, readings and music, readers will discover that she is moved by the mastery of legendary musicians, the wings of a monarch butterfly, the climate and political crisis, the mysteries of space exploration, and by the freedom of jazz music that can lead to what she calls “the magic of the unknown.” (with art by Kent Ambler)

Interview

The Marvelettes/via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?: An Oral History of the 60’s Girl Groups...Little is known of the lives and challenges many of the young Black women who made up the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s faced while performing during an era rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s mission to provide the artists an opportunity to voice their experiences so crucial to the evolution of popular music.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Emily Jon Tobias’ MONARCH: Stories, and a reflection on our friendship

In Memoriam

photo via Wikimedia Commons
A few words about Willie Mays...Thoughts about the impact Willie Mays had on baseball, and on my life.

Poetry

photo of Earl Hines by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Pianists and Poets – 13 poems devoted to the keys...From “Fatha” Hines to Brad Mehldau, poets open themselves up to their experiences with and reverence for great jazz pianists

Art

photo of Archie Shepp by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Archie Shepp...photos of the legendary saxophonist (and his rhythm section for the evening), taken at Amsterdam's Bimhuis on May 13, 2001.

Poetry

CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
“On Coltrane: 4th of July Reflections” – a poem by Connie Johnson

Click here to read more poetry published in Jerry Jazz Musician

Calling All Poets!

News about a Jerry Jazz Musician printed jazz poetry anthology, and information about submitting your poetry for consideration

Short Fiction

pickpik.com
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #65 — “Ballad” by Lúcia Leão...The author’s award-winning story is about the power of connections – between father and child, music and art, and the past, present and future.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Interview

photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960...Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan (pictured) and Big Jay McNeely played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”

Playlist

photo of Coleman Hawkins by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“The Naked Jazz Musician” – A playlist by Bob Hecht...As Sonny Rollins has said, “Jazz is about taking risks, pushing boundaries, and challenging the status quo.” Could there be anything riskier—or more boundary-pushing—than to stand naked and perform with nowhere to hide? Bob’s extensive playlist is comprised of such perilous undertakings by an array of notable woodwind and brass masters who have had the confidence and courage (some might say even the exhibitionism) to expose themselves so completely by playing….alone.

Feature

Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – Vol. 3: “Louis Armstrong”...A substantial number of novels and stories with jazz music as a component of the story have been published over the years, and the scholar David J. Rife has written short essay/reviews of them. In this third edition featuring excerpts from his book, Rife writes about four novels/short fiction that include stories involving Louis Armstrong.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

In Memoriam

Hans Bernhard (Schnobby), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Remembering Joe Pass: Versatile Jazz Guitar Virtuoso” – by Kenneth Parsons...On the 30th anniversary of the guitarist Joe Pass’ death, Kenneth Parsons reminds readers of his brilliant career

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Jazz History Quiz #172

photo of Teddy Wilson by William Gottlieb
Teddy Wilson once said this about a fellow jazz pianist:

“That man had the most phenomenal musical gifts I’ve ever heard. He was miraculous. It’s like someone hitting a home run every time he picks up a bat. We became such fast friends that I was allowed to interrupt him anytime he was playing at the house parties in Toledo we used to make every night. When I asked him, he would stop and replay a passage very slowly, showing me the fingering on some of those runs of his. You just couldn’t figure them out by ear at the tempo he played them.”

Who is the pianist he is describing?

Community

photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Coming Soon

An interview with Larry Tye, author of The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America; an interview with James Kaplan, author of 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool; A new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Ella Fitzgerald/IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Click to view the complete 25-year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Judith Tick on Ella Fitzgerald (pictured),; Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz on the Girl Groups of the 60's; Tad Richards on Small Group Swing; Stephanie Stein Crease on Chick Webb; Brent Hayes Edwards on Henry Threadgill; Richard Koloda on Albert Ayler; Glenn Mott on Stanley Crouch; Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake; Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive