A Black History Month Profile: The Harlem Globetrotters

in this 2005 interview, Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, discusses the complex history of the celebrated Black touring basketball team.

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February 21st, 2024

A Black History Month Profile: Zora Neale Hurston

In a 2002 interview, Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, talks about the novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet whose work is is taught in American, African American, and Women’s Studies courses in high schools and universities from coast to coast.

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February 16th, 2024

A Black History Month Profile – Pianist and composer Eubie Blake

In this 2021 Jerry Jazz Musician interview,  Eubie Blake biographers Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin discuss the legendary composer of American popular song and jazz during the 20th century

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February 8th, 2024

A Black History Month Profile: Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin

In a 2003  Jerry Jazz Musician interview, John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, talks about one of the most important figures of the American civil rights movement, and a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

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February 3rd, 2024

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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January 9th, 2024

From the Interview Archive: A 2011 conversation with Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway

In this interview, Alyn Shipton discusses Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

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December 20th, 2023

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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December 6th, 2023

From the Interview Archive: A 2013 conversation with Guthrie Ramsey, author of The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop

In a 2013 Jerry Jazz Musician interview,  Guthrie Ramsey talks about Bud Powell, one of the greatest pianist’s in jazz history, and the collision of two vibrant political economies: the discourses of art and the practice of Blackness.

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November 28th, 2023

Interview Archive: Gary Giddins on Thelonious Monk

The former Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, who was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, and who is the country’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in a December 23, 2002 conversation about jazz legend Thelonious Monk.

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November 10th, 2023

Interview Archive…A 2006 conversation about historic New Orleans with Thomas Brothers, author of Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans

In a 2006 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, the eminent Louis Armstrong scholar Thomas Brothers talks about the city of New Orleans, and how it imprinted itself on a young Louis Armstrong…

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September 18th, 2023

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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August 28th, 2023

Interview with Stephanie Stein Crease, author of Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat That Changed America

The author talks about her book and Chick Webb, once at the center of America’s popular music, and among the most influential musicians in jazz history.

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July 3rd, 2023

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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June 17th, 2023

From the Interview Archive: a 2014 interview with Stanley Crouch, author of Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker

In a 2014 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, the late jazz writer and cultural critic Stanley Crouch shares his thoughts on Charlie Parker, a great genius of modern music…

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May 15th, 2023

Interview Archive: A conversation with Michael Dregni, author of Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend

Michael Dregni talks about the life of the acknowledged jazz master, Django Reinhardt – and the extraordinary times and circumstances in which he lived.

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May 6th, 2023

Interview with Richard Koloda, author of Holy Ghost: The Life & Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler

An impeccably researched biography of an influential figure in American music, the goal of which is “to draw attention away from the circumstances surrounding Ayler’s death and bring it sharply back to the legacy he left behind.”

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April 5th, 2023

Interview Archive: Donzaleigh Abernathy, author of Partners to History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement

The daughter of Reverend Ralph Abernathy talks about her life as a child of the civil rights movement, and to remember the two visionaries who changed the course of American history

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April 4th, 2023

A Women’s History Month Profile: American women during World War II

In an interview originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician in 2004, Emily Yellin, author of Our Mother’s War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II, talks about the historic contributions women made toward the war effort

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March 17th, 2023

A Women’s History Month Profile: Lena Horne

. . In a 2009 interview, James Gavin, author of Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne, discusses the challenging yet inspiring life of one of the 20th century’s most revered entertainers . . ___ . .     James Gavin, author of  Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne . ___ . . . … Continue readingA Women’s History Month Profile: Lena Horne”

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March 6th, 2023

“Why We Write” – a conversation with three Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writers

Writers talk about influential life experiences with writing, literary figures who inspired their work, overcoming creative and economic challenges, and where they fit in today’s publishing model.

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March 3rd, 2023

A Black History Month Profile: Bandleader Fletcher Henderson

Fletcher Henderson biographer Jeffrey Magee discusses the influential bandleader, and the emergence of modern jazz

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February 28th, 2023

A Black History Month Profile: Billie Holiday scholar Farah Griffin discusses the legendary jazz singer

Billie Holiday scholar and biographer Farah Griffin discusses one of the most gifted jazz artists of all time, and one of the most elusive…

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February 22nd, 2023

Interview with Glenn Mott, editor of Victory is Assured: The Uncollected Writings of Stanley Crouch

Mr. Mott discusses this posthumous anthology of extraordinary, thought-provoking  uncollected essays by Stanley Crouch.

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February 17th, 2023

A Black History Month Profile: An interview with Ralph Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad

Ralph Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad talks about the complex life of the author of Invisible Man, the celebrated work that focuses on racial and economic issues of mid-20th century America

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February 15th, 2023

A Black History Month Profile: Louis Armstrong scholar Thomas Brothers on the “Master of Modernism”

Louis Armstrong scholar and biographer Thomas Brothers talks about the artist’s most fertile period, from his arrival as a young man in Chicago in 1922 to join Joe “King” Oliver, through the years of the “Hot Five and Hot Seven” recordings 

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February 7th, 2023

A Black History Month Profile: Scott Simon on Jackie Robinson and the integration of major league baseball

In a 2002 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon discusses his biography of Jackie Robinson, and the integration of major league baseball

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February 1st, 2023

Interview with Aidan Levy, author of Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins

The author discusses the iconic tenor saxophonist who is one of the greatest jazz improvisers of all time, a lasting link to the golden age of jazz

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December 23rd, 2022

Interview with Joanna Scutts, author of Hotbed: Bohemian Greenwich Village and the Secret Club that Sparked Modern Feminism

A conversation about women who formed a group that became known as “Heterodoxy,” whose members were fired up by a desire to change their world, and who became public ambassadors of a brand-new philosophy; feminism.

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November 19th, 2022

Interview with Winston James, author of Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik

A discussion about the revolutionary, non-conformist poet Claude McKay’s complex early life that culminated in a pioneering role in American letters

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October 12th, 2022

Interview with Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder, authors of Designed For Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance

The authors discuss how dance records of mid-century were a primary resource for learning the steps, and how the convergence of dancing and music – and album cover art – impacted American identity.

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August 20th, 2022

“Black Sufferance / Insufferable Whites – A conversation with Reverend Dr. James Henry Harris,” by John Hawkins

A conversation about race with the author of “N: My Encounter with Racism and the Forbidden Word in an American Classic”

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July 30th, 2022

Interview with Shawn Levy, author of In On the Joke: The Original Queens of Stand-up Comedy

In today’s world of stand-up comedy, women are distinguished performers whose acts fill auditoriums and provoke their stardom in blockbuster movies. But before the likes of Amy Schumer, Tiffany Haddish, and Ali Wong, it took courageous and revolutionary women of mid-20th century America who were willing to confront extreme cultural barriers and participate in a corner of the entertainment world previously inhabited by men only. Shawn Levy’s In On the Joke: The Original Queens of Stand-up Comedy consist of concise biographies of comedians like Moms Mabley, Phyllis Diller, Elaine May and Joan Rivers who successfully broke into the boys club of stand-up comedy, offering new ideas of womanhood along the way.

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July 13th, 2022

Interview with Richard Brent Turner, author of Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism

. .       Richard Brent Turner is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the African American Studies Program at the University of Iowa, and the author of  Soundtrack to a Movement:  African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism [New York University Press] . . ___ . . …..In Richard Brent Turner’s … Continue reading “Interview with Richard Brent Turner, author of Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism

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April 1st, 2022

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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March 14th, 2022

A Women’s History Month Profile: Madam C.J. Walker

In a 2004 interview, A’Lelia Bundles, the great-great granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker, discusses the daughter of former slaves who became one of the 20th Century’s most successful, self-made female entrepreneurs.

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March 6th, 2022

A Black History Month Profile: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America

In The Fire is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America, author Nicholas Buccola tells the story of the historic 1965 Cambridge Union debate between Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and Buckley, a staunch opponent of the movement and founder in 1955 of National Review, the leading conservative publication.  The evening’s debate topic?  “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”

Buccola discusses his book in a July 23, 2020 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician editor/publisher Joe Maita

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February 15th, 2022

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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February 6th, 2022

Interview with Wayne Enstice, co-author of The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer

The book’s co-author in conversation about the little-known life story of the pioneering Ms. Dodgion, who defied the odds to become a world-class jazz drummer in a world – and on an instrument – dominated by men.

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December 11th, 2021

Interview with Kitt Shapiro, author of Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black & White

Being the daughter of an international celebrity is sure to have its rewards and challenges, particularly when the mother – in this case Eartha Kitt – grew up motherless and in extreme poverty in the South, and who as an adult, broke hardened and racist societal barriers with her intense inner drive, determination, and strength of character. In a November, 2021 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Ms. Kitt’s daughter Kitt Shapiro, author of Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black & White, talks about Eartha’s legacy as a mother, the life and career challenges they both faced, and her book—a moving account of a heartfelt mother/daughter relationship.

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December 4th, 2021

Interview with Travis Atria, author of Better Days Will Come Again: The Life of Arthur Briggs, Jazz Genius of Harlem, Paris, and a Nazi Prison Camp

…..The Grenada-born trumpeter Arthur Briggs was among the first to introduce and popularize jazz music, and did so from Europe, where he permanently settled after arriving from Harlem in 1919, and where he eventually grew to be considered “the Louis Armstrong of Paris.”  Little-known in America, his musical biography features his befriending and performing with the likes of Sidney Bechet (who Briggs was with when he bought his first soprano saxophone), Josephine Baker, Coleman Hawkins, and Django Reinhardt.

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June 16th, 2021

Interview with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom, authors of Eubie Blake: Rags, Rhythm, and Race

Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom, authors of “Eubie: Rags, Rhythm, and Race,” talk about Blake and their insightful and timely book – an important portrait of the man and the musical world his work helped reshape.

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May 17th, 2021

Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Art of Jazz

An interview with The Art of Jazz author Alyn Shipton, whose book is an exploration of how jazz influenced sheet music art, album art, posters, photography, and individual works of fine art.

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April 25th, 2021

Interview with Jeff Gold, author of Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s

The author talks about his book and the rare collection of 200 full-color and black-and-white souvenir photos and memorabilia that bring life to the renowned jazz nightclubs of 1940’s and 1950’s.

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April 4th, 2021

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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March 23rd, 2021

Interview with Dave Chisholm, author of the graphic novel Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California

Author Dave Chisholm talks about the experience creating his graphic novel about Charlie Parker in California, “Chasin’ the Bird”

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February 15th, 2021

A Black History Month Profile: Alain Locke, the father of the Harlem Renaissance

In a 2019 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Jeffrey Stewart, author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke and winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Non-Fiction, talks about Locke, the man now known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

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February 10th, 2021

“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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January 28th, 2021

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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January 15th, 2021

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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December 20th, 2020

Interview with Will Friedwald, author of Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole

In an exclusive interview, Will Friedwald, author of Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole, discusses Cole and his book.

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October 23rd, 2020

Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands discuss the legacy of Erroll Garner

In a July 27, 2020 conversation with Jerry Jazz Musician editor/publisher Joe Maita, the historian and most eminent jazz writer of his generation Dan Morgenstern and pianist Christian Sands – the Creative Ambassador of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project – discuss Garner’s historic legacy.

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October 1st, 2020

Interview with Nicholas Buccola, author of The Fire is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America

In The Fire is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America, author Nicholas Buccola tells the story of the historic 1965 Cambridge Union debate between Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and Buckley, a staunch opponent of the movement and founder in 1955 of National Review, the leading conservative publication.  The evening’s debate topic?  “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”

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September 2nd, 2020

Interview with Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

The author discusses the enigmatic and extraordinary pianist, composer, and band leader, whose most notable achievements came during a time of major societal and cultural change, and often in the face of critics who at times found his music too technical and bombastic.

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July 6th, 2020

Interview with Kevin Boyle — author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

. . In 2005, Kevin Boyle’s National Book Award-winning book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age told the story of Ossian Sweet, a Black doctor in Detroit who in 1925 moved from that city’s ghetto into a home of his own in a previously all-white neighborhood.  … Continue reading “Interview with Kevin Boyle — author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

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June 28th, 2020

Tulsa in 1921 — an interview with Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

      . . Given the current Black Lives Matter protests, coupled with the upcoming presidential indoor “rally” in Tulsa (in the middle of a pandemic, no less), it seems like a good time to revisit an interview I conducted with Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot … Continue reading “Tulsa in 1921 — an interview with Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

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June 14th, 2020

Interview with Maria Golia, author of Ornette Coleman: The Territory And The Adventure

Ms. Golia discusses her book and the artists whose philosophy and the astounding, adventurous music he created served to continually challenge the skeptical status quo, and made him a guiding light of the artistic avant-garde throughout a career spanning seven decades.

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May 30th, 2020

“An Interview with Lee Konitz” — by Bob Hecht and Grover Sales

Bob Hecht hosts a previously unpublished 1985 interview with the late, great jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, featuring photography and music

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April 22nd, 2020

Interview with Dominic McHugh, co-author of The Letters of Cole Porter

In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview with The Letters of Cole Porter co-author Dominic McHugh, he explains that “several of the big biographical tropes that we associate with Porter are either modified or contested by the letters,” and that “when you put together these letters, and add our quite extensive commentary between the letters, it creates a different picture of him.” Mr. McHugh discusses his book, and what the letters reveal about the life – in-and-out of music – of Cole Porter.

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March 26th, 2020

Interview with Richard Crawford, author of Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music

Richard Crawford’s Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music is a rich and detailed musical biography that describes Gershwin’s work throughout every stage of his career. In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Crawford discusses his book and the man he has described as a “fresh voice of the Jazz Age” who “challenged Americans to rethink their assumptions about composition and performance, nationalism, cultural hierarchy, and the racial divide.”

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March 21st, 2020

Interview with James Kaplan, author of Irving Berlin: New York Genius

Irving Berlin biographer James Kaplan talks about Berlin’s unparalleled musical career and business success, his intense sense of family and patriotism during a complex and evolving time, and the artist’s permanent cultural significance.

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March 19th, 2020

Blood For Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army — an interview with author David Colley

From the Jerry Jazz Musician archives, in a March, 2003 interview, David Colley, author of Blood For Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army, talks about the integration of the United States military, and about the courage of African American soldiers determined to achieve success before and after World War II.

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February 19th, 2020

Interview with Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

. .     . .     photo by Bouna Ndaiye/used by permission of Gerald Horne Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice:  Racism and the Political Economy of the Music . ___ . . …..Jazz music — complex, ground breaking and brilliant from its early 20th century beginnings — would eventually become America’s … Continue reading “Interview with Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

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February 12th, 2020

Interview with Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges

In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges – the first-ever biography of the immortal musician – talks about the enigmatic man and his unforgettable sound.

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January 5th, 2020

Interview with Paul Lopes, author of Art Rebels: Race, Class and Gender in the Art of Miles Davis and Martin Scorsese

Paul Lopes — associate professor of sociology at Colgate University —  talks about how ethnicity, class and hypermasculinity impacted the work of these two visionary, independent artists.

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December 13th, 2019

Interview with Nate Chinen, author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century

Nate Chinen, the former New York Times jazz critic who is now director of editorial content for WBGO Radio, talks about his book, Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century

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September 4th, 2019

Interview with renowned jazz photographer Carol Friedman

. . Carol Friedman . ___ . …..During a career now spanning over three decades, the esteemed New York portrait photographer Carol Friedman’s iconic images have appeared on hundreds of album and CD covers.  Her poignant, often spontaneous work – a generous sampling of which is on display within and following the interview – includes … Continue reading “Interview with renowned jazz photographer Carol Friedman”

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August 11th, 2019

Interview with Jeffrey Stewart, author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, discusses the life of the man known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance

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May 12th, 2019

Interview with Mary Schmidt Campbell, author of An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden

Mary Schmidt Campbell, author of .An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden,discusses the remarkable life of this important American artist in a Jerry Jazz Musician interview.

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March 9th, 2019

A Black History Month Profile: Jack Johnson

In an interview originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician in 2004, Jack Johnson  biographer Geoffrey Ward talks about the first black heavyweight champion in history, the celebrated — and most reviled — African American of his age. 

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February 21st, 2019

Interview with Thomas Brothers, author of Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington and the Magic of Collaboration

In Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration, Duke University musicologist Thomas Brothers – author of two essential studies of Louis Armstrong – tells a fascinating account of how creative cooperation inspired two of the world’s most celebrated groups.

The following interview with Mr. Brothers about his book — hosted and produced by Jerry Jazz Musician. publisher Joe Maita — was conducted on December 10, 2018.

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February 5th, 2019

A Roundtable conversation — “Religion ‘around’ Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison”

. .     . …..While Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison are not known as being “religious” figures, they have, in a way, become “sacred” figures. Revered, iconic and inspirational, their essential work contributed mightily to the creative climate of twentieth-century America, and did so in the midst of complex and evolving religious … Continue reading “A Roundtable conversation — “Religion ‘around’ Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison””

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January 7th, 2019

Interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins

Gary Giddins, his generation’s most eminent jazz writer and author of the award winning biography Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903 – 1940, talks with us about his brilliant second book on Crosby, Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940 – 1946. The interview is a fascinating read — a virtual history of Crosby’s life and his impact on America during its most consequential decade. Featuring photos, music and film clips, and information about Giddins’ experience studying Crosby for 25 years.

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October 25th, 2018

Revisiting Gil Evans

     An early interview I conducted as publisher of Jerry Jazz Musician was with Stephanie Stein Crease, whose 2002 biography of Gil Evans, Out of the Cool, was an illuminating history of a man the jazz writer Gary Giddins refers to as “one of the great figures in American music, a composer and orchestrator of breathtaking originality.”

     In the interview, Crease talks of Evans’ life as having

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May 14th, 2018

It was 50 years ago today — the anniversary of the A Love Supreme recording date

Ask just about any jazz musician, scholar or fan for a list of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded, and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme — recorded 50 years ago today — resides on it. My own first experience with it was in 1975, on a late evening in a dark, smoke-filled, back alley cottage on North Oakland’s Alcatraz Avenue. My listening was guided by a dear friend who understood that this was not just music — it is what happens when musical genius meets intensity, sensitivity, and spirituality. So many details of that evening remain with me 40 years later, not the least of which was how I sunk into the couch, eyes closed, the worn Impulse album jacket never leaving my grip. I was amazed and I was hooked.

Over the years, I have found that a favorite discussion among jazz fans is their recollections of their first experience with this album. When I began developing content for Jerry Jazz Musician, one of the first ideas I had was to interview people who were either

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December 9th, 2014

In honor of jazz historian Dan Morgenstern — at age 85

The critic Gary Giddins once told me that fellow jazz writer Dan Morgenstern has the “best ears in the business.” Morgenstern’s work as editor of Down Beat during the 1960’s and 70’s (when it was jazz music’s premier magazine) and as the director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, according to writer Sheldon Mayer helped direct “a generation of jazz scholars and broadened the discussion and range of the discipline.”

In addition to his work at Down Beat and the Institute, I associate Morgenstern’s career with his defense of the latter-day Louis Armstrong, and for the many great liner notes he penned. In the introduction to my 2005 interview with Morgenstern (at the time of the release of his book Living With Music), I wrote: “Dan Morgenstern was the

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October 29th, 2014

Interview with Cary Ginell — author of Walk Tall: The Music and Life of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley

Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s stellar career began in the era of hard bop and ended (far too soon) during the time of jazz fusion. In between, he played on some of the most prominent recordings in the history of jazz — Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and his own Somethin’ Else among them — and ultimately became what the critic Gary Giddins described as “the patron saint of the soul-hymn movement,” a music that would reach a broad affluent audience while also keeping jazz relevant in the African-American neighborhoods.

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August 26th, 2014

Interview with saxophonist Kevin Flanagan on the convergence of poetry and jazz

The convergence of poetry and jazz has long been a part of the counterculture, and it has always interested me. An early interview I did for Jerry Jazz Musician was with David Amram, once known as Jack Kerouac’s musical collaborator. In the interview he talked about Kerouac’s love of music, telling me that “he had an enormous memory for music and for jazz and the classics. He could sing the melodies from different Haydn and Beethoven string quartets. He was like an encyclopedia of music and classic literature from Europe. He also had an enormous knowledge of Buddhism. He had a tremendous knowledge of Judaism, as well as the writings from the Old and New Testaments as well as from the Mass. He had this knowledge of so many different things. When he was reading, I would submerge myself into whatever it was he was reading, and I tried to anticipate what would happen next.”

     So, the collaboration of words and music is fascinating, and has deep and intellectual roots. It was the basis for my interest in an email I received a while ago from reed player Kevin Flanagan who, like Kerouac, is a Lowell, Massachusetts native. Flanagan’s Riprap Quartet recordings, he informed me, “feature compositions by the band setting the works of Pulitzer Prize winning-poet Gary Snyder” and is

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July 3rd, 2014

Louis Armstrong – the genesis of his “crossover” appeal

Breaking into the white market without losing his African-American vernacular identity was an amazing achievement for Louis Armstrong — particularly during his era. I talk about this in an excerpt from my recent interview with Thomas Brothers, author of Louis Armstrong: Master Of Modernism.

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JJM In the winter of 1925 – 26, while making a name for himself at classy venues like the Dreamland Café and the Vendome Theater, Armstrong was also extending his reputation thanks to the Hot Five series on OKeh Records. The recordings sold in Chicago, but the main target audience was African Americans in the Deep South, where “race records” were immensely popular. What was OKeh’s marketing strategy for this series?

TB Yes, they certainly sold in Chicago, and they sold in all northern cities where there were African-American communities from the Great Migration. The target of these “race records” was of course to appeal to the African-American mass audience, and to do so in a low-budget way. They were not interested in paying musicians any royalties – they would get a flat fee

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June 25th, 2014

Interview with Thomas Brothers — author of Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism

In Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism, Thomas Brothers picks up where he left off with the acclaimed Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans, following the story of the great jazz musician into his most creatively fertile years in the 1920s and early 1930s, when Armstrong created not one but two modern musical styles. Brothers wields his own tremendous skill in making the connections between history and music accessible to everyone as Armstrong shucks and jives across the page. Through Brothers’s expert ears and eyes we meet an Armstrong whose quickness and sureness, so evident in his performances, served him well in his encounters with racism while his music soared across the airwaves into homes all over America.

Brothers discusses his book with Jerry Jazz Musician publisher Joe Maita in an April, 2014 interview.

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June 15th, 2014

Interview with Marc Myers, author of Why Jazz Happened

Marc Myers is a busy guy…In addition to being a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal (where he writes about jazz, rock, and other culture), he also posts daily on his award-winning blog Jazz Wax and travels around the world promoting his pursuits. Perhaps his most important contribution is his book Why Jazz Happened, described by his publisher (University of California Press) as “the first comprehensive social history of jazz.” Myers’ perspective is fresh and thorough and wonderfully entertaining. For those who love the history of this music, it should be on your night table.

I recently interviewed Myers about his book, which he took the time to converse in great detail about — topics like how the G.I. Bill altered the direction of jazz; the advent of the extended jazz solo that came with the introduction of the LP; and how the suburbanization of Southern California ushered in a new harmony-rich jazz style in contrast to the music played in urban markets. It is a great read!

What follows is part conversation/part history class about Myers’ fascinating cultural study of why, in his opinion, “jazz happened.”

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February 7th, 2014

Interview with Stanley Crouch, author of Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker

Described by the New York Times as a “bebop Beowulf,” Stanley Crouch’s Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker is a love song to the life and times of Bird, one of jazz music’s most critically important figures. Mr. Crouch, himself an essential participant in both contemporary criticism and in the delivery of live performance (through his work with Jazz at Lincoln Center), discusses his long-anticipated biography with Jerry Jazz Musician in a recently conducted interview.

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January 22nd, 2014

Interview with Guthrie Ramsey, author of The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop

Bud Powell was not only one of the greatest bebop pianists of all time, he stands as one of the twentieth century’s most dynamic and fiercely adventurous musical minds. His expansive musicianship, riveting performances, and inventive compositions expanded the bebop idiom and pushed jazz musicians of all stripes to higher standards of performance. Yet Powell remains one of American music’s most misunderstood figures, and the story of his exceptional talent is often overshadowed by his history of alcohol abuse, mental instability, and brutalization at the hands of white authorities.

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October 22nd, 2013

On the Influence of Albert Murray

One of my more interesting experiences as publisher of Jerry Jazz Musician was producing a series of interviews that focused on the work of the novelist Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man was a favorite novel of mine as a young man, but it wasn’t until I reread it in the 1990’s before I began to understand the enormity of its cultural significance. At that time, Ellison’s second (and unfinished) novel Juneteenth was being published, and a variety of books on Ellison were released at the same time – among them Living with Music, a collection of Ellison’s writings on jazz music edited by Columbia University scholar Robert O’Meally, and Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray.

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October 2nd, 2013

John Goodman on Charles Mingus — An Interview Fragment

I recently published an interview with John Goodman, author of Mingus Speaks, a terrific book of interviews Goodman conducted with Mingus in the early ’70’s.

The following is an interview fragment…

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September 25th, 2013

John Goodman, author of Charles Mingus Speaks

As a writer for Playboy, John F. Goodman reviewed Mingus’s comeback concert in 1972 and went on to achieve an intimacy with the composer that brings a relaxed and candid tone to the ensuing interviews. Much of what Mingus shares shows him in a new light: his personality, his passions and sense of humor, and his thoughts on music. The conversations are wide-ranging, shedding fresh light on important milestones in Mingus’s life such as the publication of his memoir, Beneath the Underdog, the famous Tijuana episodes, his relationships, and the jazz business.

Goodman discusses his book in a July, 2013 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician publisher Joe Maita.

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September 6th, 2013

Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

Intense, powerful, and compelling, Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and James Jones’s The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever.

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May 4th, 2013

Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes!” So ranted Thelonious Sphere Monk, who proved his point every time he sat down at the keyboard. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest composers. Yet throughout much of his life, his musical contribution took a backseat to tales of his reputed behavior. Writers tended to obsess over Monk’s hats or his proclivity to dance on stage. To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. But these labels tell us little about the man or his music.

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April 15th, 2013

Doug Ramsey, author of Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond

Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond is the story of a jazz artist who transcended genres to establish one of the most immediately recognizable sounds in all of music. Long before his success as the alto saxophonist with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, decades before he wrote “Take Five ,” Desmond determined that he would be himself, never a disciple or an imitator, whatever the cost.

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March 1st, 2013

Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway

Clad in white tie and tails, dancing and scatting his way through the “Hi-de-ho” chorus of “Minnie the Moocher,” Cab Calloway exuded a sly charm and sophistication that endeared him to legions of fans.

In Hi-de-ho, author Alyn Shipton offers the first full-length biography of Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the highest-earning African American bandleaders. Shipton sheds new light on Calloway’s life and career, explaining how he traversed racial and social boundaries to become one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

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April 6th, 2011

Conversations with Gary Giddins: On his books Jazz and Warning Shadows

Giddins has been a frequent contributor to Jerry Jazz Musician. This is the 15th interview in our “Conversations with Gary Giddins” series. He joins us in a June 1, 2010 discussion about his two new books.

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June 1st, 2010

James Gavin, author of Stormy Weather: the Life of Lena Horne

Lena Horne biographer James Gavin discusses the challenging yet inspiring life of one of the 20th century’s most revered entertainers

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September 18th, 2009

David Robertson, author of W.C. Handy: The Life and Times of the Man Who Made the Blues

Before there was Elvis, there was W.C. Handy, “the man who made the blues.” Here is the first major biography in decades of the man who gave us such iconic songs as “St. Louis Blues,” “The Memphis Blues,” and “Beale Street Blues,” and who was responsible, more than any other musician, for bringing the blues into the American mainstream.

David Robertson charts W.C. Handy’s rise from a rural Alabama childhood in the last decades of the nineteenth century to become one of the most celebrated songwriters of the twentieth century. The child of former slaves, Handy was first inspired by spirituals and folk songs, and his passion for music pushed him to leave home as a teenager, despite opposition from his preacher father.

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September 4th, 2009

Larry Tye, author of Satchel Paige: The Life and Times of an American Legend

Leroy “Satchel” Paige was the most sensational pitcher ever to throw a baseball. During his years in the Negro Leagues he fine-tuned a pitch so scorching that catchers tried to soften the sting by cushioning their gloves with beefsteaks. His career stats — 2,000 wins, 250 shutouts, three victories on the same day — are so eye-popping they seem like misprints. But bigotry kept big league teams from signing him until he was forty-two, at which point he helped propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. Over a career that spanned four decades, Satchel pitched more baseballs, for more fans, in more ballparks, for more teams, than any player in history.

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August 29th, 2009

Graham Lock and David Murray, editors of Thriving on a Riff: Jazz & Blues Influences in African American Literature and Film

The widespread presence of jazz and blues in African American visual art has long been overlooked. The Hearing Eye makes the case for recognizing the music’s importance, both as formal template and as explicit subject matter. Moving on from the use of iconic musical figures and motifs in Harlem Renaissance art, this groundbreaking collection explores the more allusive — and elusive — references to jazz and blues in a wide range of mostly contemporary visual artists.

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August 14th, 2009

Marybeth Hamilton, author of In Search of the Blues

Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton — we are all familiar with the story of the Delta blues. Fierce, raw voices; tormented drifters; deals with the devil at the crossroads at midnight.

In an extraordinary reconstruction of the origins of the Delta blues, historian Marybeth Hamilton demonstrates that the story as we know it is largely a myth. The idea of something called Delta blues only emerged in the mid-twentieth century, the culmination of a longstanding white fascination with the exotic mysteries of black music.

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May 23rd, 2008

Brad Snyder, author of A Well Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports

Upon being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969, Curt Flood, an All-Star center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, wanted nothing more than to stay with St. Louis. But his only options were to report to Philadelphia or retire. Instead, Flood sued Major League Baseball for his freedom, hoping to invalidate the reserve clause in his contract, which bound a player to his team for life.

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February 25th, 2008

The Ralph Ellison Project — Arnold Rampersad, author of Ralph Ellison: A Biography

Ralph Ellison is justly celebrated for his epochal novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953 and has become a classic of American literature. But Ellison’s strange inability to finish a second novel, despite his dogged efforts and soaring prestige, made him a supremely enigmatic figure. In Ralph Ellison: A Biography, Arnold Rampersad skillfully tells the story of a writer whose thunderous novel and astute, courageous essays on race, literature, and culture assure him of a permanent place in our literary heritage.

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August 20th, 2007

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on his book, Natural Selection

Long recognized as America’s most brilliant jazz writer, the winner of many major awards — including the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award — and author of a highly popular biography of Bing Crosby, Gary Giddins has also produced a wide range of stimulating and original cultural criticism in other fields. With Natural Selection, he brings together the best of these previously uncollected essays, including a few written expressly for this volume.

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June 22nd, 2007

An Online Story of Jazz in New Orleans – Chapter 5

An Online Story of Jazz in New Orleans With an introduction by Nat Hentoff __________ Featuring the complete text of chapters 1 – 5 from Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told By the Men Who Made It, a 1955 book by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff (Published with the consent … Continue reading “An Online Story of Jazz in New Orleans – Chapter 5”

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March 26th, 2007

An Online Story of Jazz in New Orleans – Chapter 4

Featuring the complete text of chapter 4 rom “Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told By the Men Who Made It”, a 1955 book by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff

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March 26th, 2007

An Online Story of Jazz in New Orleans – Chapter 2

Featuring the complete text of chapters 2 from “Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told By the Men Who Made It,” a 1955 book by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff

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March 26th, 2007

An Online Story of Jazz in New Orleans – Chapter 1

Featuring the complete text of chapter 1 from “Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told By the Men Who Made It,” a 1955 book by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff

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March 26th, 2007

Joshua Prager, author of The Echoing Green:The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World

The 1951 regular season was as good as over. The Brooklyn Dodgers led the New York Giants by three runs with just three outs to go in their third and final playoff game. And not once in major league baseball’s 278 preceding playoff and World Series games had a team overcome a three-run deficit in the ninth inning. But New York rallied, and at 3:58 p.m. on October 3, 1951, Bobby Thomson hit a home run off Ralph Branca. The Giants won the pennant.

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November 29th, 2006

Dunstan Prial, author of The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music

John Hammond is one of the most charismatic figures in American music, a man who put on record much of the music we cherish today. A pioneering producer and talent spotter, Hammond discovered and championed some of the most gifted musicians of early jazz — Billie Holliday, Count Basie, Charlie Christian, Benny Goodman — and staged the legendary “From Spirituals to Swing” concert at Carnegie Hall in 1939, which established jazz as America’s indigenous music. Then as jazz gave way to pop and rock Hammond repeated the trick, discovering Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan in his life’s extraordinary second act.

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November 20th, 2006

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Jazz Festivals

In a wide-ranging conversation, Gary Giddins — for many years the country’s most eminent jazz critic whose most recent collection of cultural criticism is titled Natural Selection — talks about his recent trip to Brazil’s Ouro Preto International Jazz Festival, the business of jazz festivals and touring, jazz education, and the debate concerning where today’s cutting-edge of jazz resides.

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October 30th, 2006

Rick Coleman, author of Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll

While many think of Elvis Presley as rock ’n’ roll’s driving force, the truth is that Fats Domino, whose records have sold more than 100 million copies, was the first to put it on the map with such hits as “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill.”

In Blue Monday, acclaimed R&B scholar Rick Coleman draws on a multitude of new interviews with Fats Domino and many other early musical legends to create a definitive biography of not just an extraordinary man but also a unique time and place: New Orleans at the birth of rock ’n’ roll.

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October 20th, 2006

Stanley Crouch, author of Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz

Stanley Crouch — MacArthur “genius” award recipient, co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, National Book Award nominee, and perennial bull in the china shop of black intelligentsia — has been writing about jazz and jazz artists for over thirty years. His reputation for controversy is exceeded only by a universal respect for his intellect and passion. As Gary Giddins notes: “Stanley may be the only jazz writer out there with the kind of rhinoceros hide necessary to provoke and outrage and then withstand the fulminations that come back.”

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September 10th, 2006

John Gennari, author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics

In the illustrious and richly documented history of American jazz, no figure has been more controversial than the jazz critic. Jazz critics can be revered or reviled — often both — but they should not be ignored. And while the tradition of jazz has been covered from seemingly every angle, until now, nobody has ever turned the pen back on itself to chronicle the many writers who have helped define how we listen to and how we understand jazz. In Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics, John Gennari provides a definitive history of jazz criticism from the 1920s to the present.

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August 21st, 2006

Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era author Elizabeth Pepin

Billie Holiday singing at the New Orleans Swing Club. Dexter Gordon hanging out at Bop City. Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane all swinging through town for gigs. Sound like a nostalgic snapshot from the New York jazz scene, or perhaps New Orleans? Nope. This particular sentimental journey describes San Francisco’s Fillmore District in its heyday.

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August 16th, 2006

Ashley Kahn, author of The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records

Following the path of its star musician John Coltrane, Impulse Records cut a creative swath through the 1960s and 1970s with the politically charged avant-garde jazz that defined the label’s musical and spiritual identity. Ashley Kahn’s The House That Trane Built tells the story of the label, balancing tales of individual passion, artistic vision, and commercial motivation.

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July 29th, 2006

Thomas Brothers, author of Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans

New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century was a complicated city, a rough and beautiful place bursting with energy and excitement. It was a city marked by racial tensions, where the volatile interactions between blacks and whites were further confounded by a substantial Creole population. Yet it was also a city of fervent religious beliefs, where salvation manifested itself in a number of ways. Perhaps abolve all else, New Orleans was a city of music: funeral bands marched through the streets; professional musicians played the popular tunes of the day in dance halls and cabarets; sanctified parishioners raised church roofs with their impassioned voices; and early blues musicians moaned their troubles on street corners and in honky-tonks, late into the night.

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June 12th, 2006

David Maraniss, author of Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero

On New Year’s Eve 1972, following eighteen magnificent seasons in the major leagues, Roberto Clemente died a hero’s death, killed in a plane crash as he attempted to deliver food and medical supplies to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. Author David Maraniss now brings the great baseball player brilliantly back to life in Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero.

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April 4th, 2006

“Up From New Orleans: Life Before, During and After Hurricane Katrina” — A conversation with transplanted New Orleans musicians Devin Phillips and Mark DiFlorio

“I’m always wondering,” Louis Armstrong wrote in 1966, “if it would have been best in my life if I’d stayed like I was in New Orleans, having a ball.”

In 1922, Armstrong left his city of New Orleans by choice, boarding a Chicago-bound train in his long underwear, carrying a “little” suitcase with a “few” clothes in it, his cornet, and a trout sandwich packed by mother Mayann.

In late August of 2005, an unimaginable number of New Orleans residents in the path of an oncoming Hurricane Katrina were left with little choice but to flee the city. One can only assume that few had the luxury of leisurely packing a suitcase, let alone a trout sandwich

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February 7th, 2006

Brian Priestley, author of Chasin’ The Bird : The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker has been idolized by generations of jazz musicians and fans. Indeed, his spectacular musical abilities — his blinding speed and brilliant improvisational style — made Parker a legend even before his tragic death at age thirty-four.

In Chasin’ The Bird, Brian Priestley tells Parker’s life story, from his Kansas City childhood to his final harrowing days in New York. Priestley offers new insight into Parker’s career, beginning as a teenager single-mindedly devoted to mastering the saxophone, to his first trip to New York, where he washed dishes for $9.00 a week at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, a favorite hangout of the great pianist Art Tatum, whose stunning speed and ingenuity were an influence on the young musician.

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February 6th, 2006

Peter Guralnick, author of Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke

. .   Peter Guralnick, author of Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke .   He was the biggest star in gospel music before he ever crossed over into pop. His first single under his own name, “You Send Me,” was an historic success, going to number one on the charts and selling two … Continue reading “Peter Guralnick, author of Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke

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December 12th, 2005

Peter Levinson, author of Tommy Dorsey: Livin’ in a Great Big Way

No musician evokes the time of the Big Band era more strikingly than Tommy Dorsey (1905 – 1956), whose towering trombone style and smash hits created legions of fans and influenced popular music for decades. Peter Levinson, the author of criticially acclaimed biographies of Harry James and Nelson Riddle, has now written the definitive account of this icon of jazz, drawing on exhaustive new research and scores of interviews with the musicians and others who knew him best.

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November 5th, 2005

Conversations with Gary Giddins: A History of Jazz in New Orleans

This edition of “Conversation with Gary Giddins” is the first of three Jerry Jazz Musician features devoted to the importance of New Orleans culture. In an enlightening, passionate conversation, Giddins — for many years the country’s most eminent jazz critic — discusses the beginnings of jazz in the city of New Orleans, its prominent figures, and what needs to be done to properly market jazz in a city that has contributed so much toward shaping the soul of America.

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October 31st, 2005

Book Review/”Weatherbird,” by Gary Giddins

The world of jazz criticism is enriched every time Gary Giddins brings out a new book, and Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of its Second Century, bulges with riches. The collection is mostly drawn from his recently-ended Village Voice column (also called “Weather Bird”), with the addition of significant essays published elsewhere. Even faithful readers of the Voice will find ample new Giddins material here.

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October 29th, 2005

“Civil Liberties and Jazz — Past, Present and Future” — A conversation with journalist Nat Hentoff

at Hentoff, a prolific author and journalist whose work has been published for many years in, among other publications, the Village Voice, the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the Wall Street Journal, and Jazz Times, has been described by one of his publishers, DaCapo Press, as “a man of passion and insight, of streetwise wit and polished eloquence — a true American original.” This “passion of insight” is particularly apparent in his lifelong devotion to the chronicling of jazz music — a pursuit that began even before he became editor of Downbeat in 1953 — and in his steadfast defense of the Constitution.

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October 6th, 2005

Chuck Haddix, author of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop

There were but four major galaxies in the early jazz universe, and three of them — New Orleans, Chicago, and New York — have been well documented in print. But there has never been a serious history of the fourth, Kansas City, until the recent publication of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — A History, by Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix.

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September 30th, 2005

Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters

Before Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, or Michael Jordan — before Magic Johnson and Showtime — the Harlem Globetrotters revolutionized basketball and spread the game around the world. In Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, author Ben Green tells the story of this extraordinary franchise and iconic American institution.

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September 26th, 2005

Penny Von Eschen, author of Satchmo Blows Up the World

At the height of the ideological antagonism of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department unleashed an unexpected tool in its battle against Communism: jazz. From 1956 through the late 1970s, America dispatched its finest jazz musicians to the far corners of the earth, from Iraq to India, from the Congo to the Soviet Union, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Third World and to counter perceptions of American racism.

In Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War, Penny Von Eschen escorts readers across the globe, backstage and onstage, as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and other jazz luminaries spread their music and their ideas further than the State Department anticipated.

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August 22nd, 2005

William Kenney, author of Jazz on the River

Just after World War I, the musical style called jazz began a waterborne journey outward from that quintessential haven of romance and decadence, New Orleans. For the first time in any organized way, steam-driven boats left town during the summer months to tramp the Mississippi River, bringing an exotic new music to the rest of the nation. For entrepreneurs promoting jazz, this seemed a promising way to spread northward the exciting sounds of the Crescent City. And the musicians no longer had to wait for folks upriver to make their way down to New Orleans to hear the vibrant rhythms, astonishing improvisations, and new harmonic idioms being created.

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July 15th, 2005

Louis Armstrong biographer Terry Teachout

“I suppose you could say that the seeds of my next book, a full-length biography of Louis Armstrong, were planted three years ago, when I was writing an essay for the New York Times about Armstrong’s centenary in which I called him “jazz’’s most eminent Victorian,” Terry Teachout wrote in his August 17, 2004 Arts Journal blog.

Three years after the Times piece was published, he took a tour of the Louis Armstrong House in Queens and came away with the enthusiasm required of such an endeavor.

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June 27th, 2005

David Evanier, author of Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin

As a performer, Bobby Darin rivaled Frank Sinatra. Energizing the early rock-and-roll scene with his rollicking classic “Splish Splash,” Darin then became a top-draw nightclub act. Chronic illness dogged him from childhood, setting the tone of urgency that inspired a career full of dizzying twists and turns: from teen idol to Vegas song-and-dance man, and from hipster to folkie and back.

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June 20th, 2005

Nick Salvatore, author of Singing in a Strange Land: C.L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America

There are few American lives more powerful or more moving than that of C. L. Franklin. Born in rural Mississippi, he would go on to become the most famous African American preacher in America. His style of preaching revolutionized the art, and his call for his fellow African Americans to proclaim both their faith and their rights helped usher in the civil rights movement. Booming, soaring, flashy, and intense, C.L. was one of a kind. And yet Franklin was, like many great public figures, immensely complicated. A beacon of faith and light, he also knew the shadows. He knew the power of the Lord, yet he was no saint. In Singing in a Strange Land, Bancroft Prize-winning historian Nick Salvatore tells Franklin’s story for the first time.

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May 23rd, 2005

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Big Bands

In the final column of his thirty year career as jazz critic of the Village Voice, Gary Giddins wrote, “I’m as besotted with jazz as ever, and expect to write about it till last call, albeit in other formats. Indeed, much in the way being hanged is said to focus the mind, this finale has made me conscious of the columns I never wrote.”

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May 10th, 2005

Michael Dregni, author of Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend

Django Reinhardt was arguably the greatest guitarist who ever lived, an important influence on Les Paul, Charlie Christian, B.B. King, Jerry Garcia, Chet Atkins, and many others. Handsome, charismatic, childlike, and unpredictable, Reinhardt was a character out of a picaresque novel. Born in a gypsy caravan at a crossroads in Belgium, he was almost killed in a freak fire that burned half of his body and left his left hand twisted into a claw. But with this maimed left hand flying over the frets and his right hand plucking at dizzying speed, Django became Europe’s most famous jazz musician, commanding exorbitant fees — and spending the money as fast as he made it.

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March 9th, 2005

Jazz historian Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz

Buying a vinyl long playing jazz album in the format’s heyday — from the 1950s through the 1980s — was a three-step sensual process that stirred an almost irrational enthusiasm for the entire culture the music ignited. The record industry’s flair for creating passionate cover art seduced the imagination, the sounds etched into the grooves promised diversion and surprise, and the densely-typed liner notes on the back cover fired up an eagerness for enlightenment. The process continued at the turntable, where the cut of a stylus transformed the listener into an aural witness to the performer’s character and improvisational skills. It was, quite simply, a bonding experience.

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February 4th, 2005

Interview with Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

. . Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice . ___ .   In 1925, Detroit was a smoky swirl of jazz and speakeasies, assembly lines and fistfights. The advent of automobiles had brought workers from around the globe to compete for manufacturing jobs, and tensions often flared with the KKK in ascendance and violence … Continue reading “Interview with Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

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February 4th, 2005

Jeffrey Magee, author of Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz: The Uncrowned King of Swing

If Benny Goodman was the “King of Swing,” then Fletcher Henderson was the power behind the throne. Not only did Henderson arrange the music that powered Goodman’s meteoric rise, he also helped launch the careers of Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins, among others. In Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz: The Uncrowned King of Swing, Jeffrey Magee offers a fascinating account of this pivotal bandleader, throwing new light on the emergence of modern jazz and the world that created it.

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January 29th, 2005

John Leland, author of Hip: The History

John Leland’s Hip: The History is the story of an American obsession. Derived from the Wolof word hepi or hipi (“to see,” or “to open one’s eyes”), which came to America with West African Slaves, hip is the dance between black and white — or insider and outsider — that gives America its unique flavor and rhythm. It has created fortunes, destroyed lives and shaped the way millions of us talk, dress, dance, make love or see ourselves in the mirror. Everyone knows what hip is.

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January 3rd, 2005

Thomas Webber, author of Flying over 96th Street: Memoir of an East Harlem White Boy

Tommy Webber is nine years old when his father, a founding minister of the East Harlem Protestant Parish, moves the family of six from a spacious apartment in an ivy-covered Gothic-style seminary on New York City’s Upper West Side to a small one in a massive public-housing project on East 102nd Street. But it isn’t the size of the apartment, the architecture of the building, or the unfamiliar streets that make the new surroundings feel so strange. While Tommy’s old neighborhood was overwhelmingly middle class and white, El Barrio is poor and predominantly black and Puerto Rican. In Washington Houses, a complex of over 1,500 apartments, the Webbers are now one of only a small handful of white familes.

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December 16th, 2004

Anthony Bianco, author of Ghosts of 42nd Street

Beginning in 1899, a burst of construction on the mid-Manhattan block of West 42nd Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue created the greatest concentration of theaters America had ever seen, giving birth to today’s Broadway theater district. When the New York Times built a slender twenty-five-story tower on an odd, triangular site formed by the convergence of 42nd Street, Broadway, and Seventh Avenue, the city named the square facing the tower Times Square, which quickly became New York’s gathering place for all important civic events.

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December 3rd, 2004

Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome: A roundtable discussion with Stanley Crouch, Gerald Early and Kitty Margolis

Although it has had its share of detractors, critical acclaim for Stanley Crouch’s first novel, Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome, is quite impressive — particularly among scholars and fellow writers. For example, Susan di Sesa, former Executive Editor of The Modern Library called it “one of the most profound novels in the English language,” while Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Alan McPherson wrote, “In attempting to employ ‘riffs’ to explore the emotional and psychological dimensions of his characters, Stanley Crouch has evolved a new narrative technique.”

Crouch — known primarily as an outspoken New York cultural critic — clearly understands that a serious writer’s role is to provoke his audience with potentially new avenues of thought

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November 23rd, 2004

Geoffrey Ward, author of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion in history, the celebrated — and most reviled — African American of his age. Prizewinning biographer Geoffrey Ward tells Johnson’s story in Unforgivable Blackness, which reveals a far more complex and compelling life than the newspaper headlines he inspired could ever convey.

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November 15th, 2004

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Jazz Vocalists

In the final column of his thirty year career as jazz critic of the Village Voice, Gary Giddins wrote, “I’m as besotted with jazz as ever, and expect to write about it till last call, albeit in other formats. Indeed, much in the way being hanged is said to focus the mind, this finale has made me conscious of the columns I never wrote.”

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October 25th, 2004

Gene Lees, author of Portrait of Johnny: The Life of John Herndon Mercer

“Moon River,” “Laura,” “Skylark,” “That Old Black Magic,” “One For My Baby,” “Accentuate the Positive,” “Satin Doll,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” — the honor roll of Johnny Mercer’s songs is endless. Both Oscar Hammerstein II and Alan Jay Lerner called him the greatest lyricist in the English language, and he was perhaps the best-loved and certainly the best-known songwriter of his generation. But Mercer was also a complicated and private man.

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October 6th, 2004

Joshua Berrett, author of Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz

Joshua Berrett’s Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz is a dual biography of two great innovators in the history of jazz. One was black, one was white — one is now legendary, the other nearly forgotten. Berrett offers a provocative revision of the history of early jazz by focusing on two of its most notable practioners — Whiteman, legendary in his day, and Armstrong, a legend ever since.

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October 4th, 2004

Nadine Cohodas, author of Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington

Nadine Cohodas’s Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington, is the landmark biography of the brief, intensely lived life and soulful music of the great Dinah Washington. A gospel star at fifteen, she was discovered by jazz great Lionel Hampton at eighteen, and for the rest of her life was on the road, playing clubs, or singing in the studio — making music one way or another. Dinah’s tart and heartfelt voice quickly became her trademark; she was a distinctive stylist, crossing over from the “race” music category to the pop and jazz charts.

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September 13th, 2004

Martin Torgoff, author of Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age

Illicit drugs have transfigured the American cultural landscape in the past half-century, leaving their mark on everything from art, music, literature, sexuality, spirituality, pop culture, the economy, and politics, to crime, public health, and national law enforcement policy. In Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945 – 2000, documentary filmmaker and writer Martin Torgoff traces the tangled trajectory of illegal drug use in America, as it spread post-World War II from the Beats and bebop musicians, all the way to the Ecstasy-fueled rave culture.

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August 27th, 2004

Our Mother’s War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II author Emily Yellin

Emily Yellin’s Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II is a stunning and unprecedented portrait of women during World War II, a war that forever transformed the way women participate in American society. It is a long overdue examination that re-creates what American women from all walks of life were doing and thinking, on the home front and abroad.

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June 29th, 2004

Neil Lanctot, author of Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution

The story of black professional baseball provides remarkable perspective on several major themes in modern African American history: the initial black response to segregation, the subsequent struggle to establish successful separate enterprises, and the later movement toward integration. Baseball functioned as a critical component in the separate economy catering to black consumers in the urban centers of the North and South. While most black businesses struggled to survive from year to year, professional baseball teams and leagues operated for decades, representing a major achievement in black enterprise and institution building.

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June 6th, 2004

Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry author Tim Brooks

Lost Sounds is the first in-depth history of the involvement of African Americans in the earliest years of recording. It examines the first three decades of sound recording in the United States, charting the surprising role black artists played in the period leading up to the Jazz Age.

Applying more than thirty years of scholarship, Tim Brooks identifies key black artists who recorded commercially in a wide range of genres and provides revealing biographies of some forty of these audio pioneers. Brooks assesses the careers and recordings of George W. Johnson, Bert Williams, George Walker, Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, W.C. Handy, James Reese Europe, Wilbur Sweatman, boxing champion Jack Johnson, as well as a host of lesser-known voices.

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May 10th, 2004

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Underrated Jazz Musicians, Part Two

In the final column of his thirty year career as jazz critic of the Village Voice, Gary Giddins wrote, “I’m as besotted with jazz as ever, and expect to write about it till last call, albeit in other formats. Indeed, much in the way being hanged is said to focus the mind, this finale has made me conscious of the columns I never wrote.”

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April 30th, 2004

“Remembering Dizzy Gillespie,” a conversation with Nat Hentoff and James Moody

Saxophonist James Moody, whose significant achievements include employment in a variety of Gillespie’s best groups, and journalist Nat Hentoff, whose chronicles on jazz during Gillespie’s era were the benchmarks of his craft, remember Dizzy and his remarkable life in a March 19, 2004 Jerry Jazz Musician hosted conversation.

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March 19th, 2004

A’Lelia Bundles, author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker

Born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 on a Delta, Louisiana plantation, Madam C.J. Walker — the daughter of former slaves — transformed herself from an uneducated farm laborer and laundress into of the twentieth century’s most successful, self-made female entrepreneur. Orphaned at age seven, she often said, “I got my start by giving myself a start.”

During the 1890s, Sarah began to suffer from a scalp ailment that caused her to lose most of her hair. She experimented with many homemade remedies and store-bought products, including those made by Annie Malone, another black woman entrepreneur.

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March 11th, 2004

Ishmael Reed, author of Blues City: A Walk in Oakland

Often overshadowed by San Francisco, its twinkling sister city across the Bay, Oakland is itself an American wonder. The city is surrounded by and filled with natural beauty — mountains and hills and lakes and a bay — and architecture that mirrors its history as a Spanish mission, Gold Rush outpost, and home of the West’s most devious robber barons.

Oakland is also a city of artists and blue-collar workers, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, neighbor to Berkeley, and home to a vibrant and volatile stew of immigrants and refugees.

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February 28th, 2004

Donzaleigh Abernathy, author of Partners to History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement

Ralph David Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr. were inseperable and together helped to establish what would become the modern American Civil Rights Movement. They preached, marched, and were frequently jailed together. Donzaleigh Abernathy, Ralph’s youngest daughter, has written Partners to History as a testament to the courage, strength, and endurance of these men who stirred a nation with their moral fortitude.

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February 19th, 2004

John Chilton, author of Roy Eldridge: Little Jazz Giant

Roy Eldridge’s style is universally recognized as the all-important link between the playing of Louis Armstrong and the achievements of modernist Dizzy Gillespie. Roy’s daring harmonic approach and his technically awesome improvisations provided guidance and inspiration for countless jazz musicians, but he was also a star performer in his own right, whose recordings as a bandleader, and with Gene Krupa and Artie Shaw, gained him a durable international reputation. The indignities he experienced and overcame during the 1940’s while working in otherwise all-white ensembles proved he was as bold a social pioneer as he was a performer.

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January 19th, 2004

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Underrated Jazz Musicians, Part One

In the final column of his thirty year career as jazz critic of the Village Voice, Gary Giddins wrote, “I’m as besotted with jazz as ever, and expect to write about it till last call, albeit in other formats. Indeed, much in the way being hanged is said to focus the mind, this finale has made me conscious of the columns I never wrote.”

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January 5th, 2004

John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin is one of the important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America’s consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement.

Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual.

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December 6th, 2003

They Marched Into Sunlight author David Maraniss

For those living during the sixties, personal perspectives on the era’s tumultuous world routinely changed instantly. For some, images of civil rights and Vietnam war protestors being beaten brought new meaning to the idea of justice and provoked active participation, while for others a numbered ball picked out of a lottery barrel would alter an entire life’s journey. Morley Safer’s television reporting from the front lines of Vietnam and Walter Cronkite’s nightly reading of the body count stimulated hope and pride in some, fear and rage in others — and often a little of both in everyone.

In They Marched Into Sunlight, Washington Post reporter David Maraniss draws together in one interwoven story the disparate worlds of soldiers in Vietnam, student protesters in the United States, and government officials in Washington.

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November 17th, 2003

Barry Lee Pearson, author of Robert Johson: Lost and Found

With just forty-one recordings to his credit, Robert Johnson (1911-38) is a giant in the history of blues music. Johnson’s vast influence on twentieth-century American music, combined with his mysterious death at the age of twenty-seven, has allowed speculation and myths to obscure the facts of his life. The most famous of these legends depicts a young Johnson meeting the Devil at a dusty Mississippi crossroads at midnight and selling his soul in exchange for prodigious guitar skills.

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November 12th, 2003

Amy Albany, author of Low Down: jazz, junk and other fairy tales from childhood

Look up pianist Joe Albany in the All Music Guide to Jazz and you will discover that during his career he associated with the likes of Benny Carter, Lester Young, Joe Venuti, Warne Marsh, and even Charlie Parker, and that eight of the albums recorded under his name in the United States and Europe between 1957 and 1982 are still in print. In the short biography accompanying Albany’s critical discography, the writer Scott Yanow touches briefly on his troubled life, his drug abuse, and his many wives, and concludes that given these circumstances, “…it is miraculous that he lived to almost reach 64.”

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November 11th, 2003

“Jazz in the Modern World” — a Roundtable discussion with Joshua Redman, Bruce Lundvall and Ben Ratliff

What are the boundaries of the jazz idiom? What is the role of jazz in today’s world? To download or not to download? What is the future of retailing and how does that affect the art of making music? What is the value of recorded music?

As ever, jazz faces an array of questions, certainly more than three people can address in an hour. The hour spent in this particular discussion among men at the top of their respective fields focuses on confronting the challenge of marketing a music filled with nuance and passion to a modern audience conditioned by technology for instant gratification, and the issue of competing with its own historic past.

In a Roundtable hosted by Jerry Jazz Musician publisher Joe Maita, Blue Note Records president Bruce Lundvall, saxophonist Joshua Redman, and New York Times critic Ben Ratliff lend their perspectives.

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October 2nd, 2003

Chris Albertson, author of Bessie

Considered by many to be the greatest blues singer of all time, Bessie Smith was also a successful vaudeville entertainer who became the highest paid African-American performer of the roaring twenties.

First published in 1971, author Chris Albertson ‘s Bessie was described at the time by critic Leonard Feather as “the most devastating, provocative, and enlightening work of its kind ever contributed to the annals of jazz literature.” New Yorker critic Whitney Balliett called it “the first estimable full-length biography not only of Bessie Smith, but of any black musician.”

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September 22nd, 2003

Fire in a Canebrake author Laura Wexler

“Fire in a Canebrake” is a phrase Walton County, Georgians used to describe the sound of fatal gunshots, and the title of Laura Wexler’s critically acclaimed book on the Moore’s Ford lynching of 1946, the last mass lynching in America.

While the book is a moving and frightening tale of violence, sex and lies, it is also a disturbing snapshot of a divided nation on the brink of the civil rights movement and a haunting meditation on race, history, and the struggle for truth.

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September 8th, 2003

Arthur Kempton, author of Boogaloo: The Quintessance of American Popular Music

“Boogaloo” is a term author Arthur Kempton suggests as an alternative to what was conventionally described as soul music, and a word to distinguish black popular music from jazz. Boogaloo encompassed three generations of signal personalities, from Thomas A. Dorsey, the so-called Father of Gospel Music, to Sam Cooke, Motown’s Berry Gordy, Stax Record’s Al Bell, and to the ascendency of hip-hop entrepreneurs Shug Knight and Russell Simmons. Their interconnections and influence on the art and commerce of black American popular music is the theme of his book, Boogaloo: The Quintessance of American Popular Music.

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August 27th, 2003

Gerald Nachman, author of Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950’s and 1960’s

The comedians of the 1950’s and 1960’s were a totally different breed of relevant, revolutionary performer from any that came before or after, comics whose humor did much more than pry guffaws out of audiences.

“The new post-Korean War comedy poked and prodded and observed, demolishing fond shibboleths left and right; it didn’t just pulverize with a volley of joke-book gags,” critic Gerald Nachman writes in Seriously Funny; The Rebel Comedians of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

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August 21st, 2003

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Jazz Criticism

Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, who was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, and who is the country’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in a conversation recorded on June 20, 2003 — and then slightly revised in October — about the profession of jazz criticism.

The conversation is an autobiographical look at the writer’s ascension in his field, and includes candid observations of other prominent critics. It concludes with a unique “Blindfold Test” that asks Giddins to name the jazz writer responsible for the essay excerpt he is spontaneously shown.

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June 20th, 2003

Sam Hamill, editor of The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth

Kenneth Rexroth was a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and influenced generations of readers with his essays and consummate translations of Japanese and Chinese poetry.

Born in 1905, Rexroth’s career spans almost the entire century. Although forty of his seventy-seven years as poet, translator, essayist, playwright, and revolutionary activist were spent in San Francisco, his intellectual and artistic formative years occurred in the Midwest, mainly in Chicago, where he associated with artists, writers, and theorists of radical politics and philosophies.

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June 20th, 2003

Newport Jazz founder George Wein, author of Myself Among Others: My Life in Music

No one has had a better seat in the house than George Wein. The legendary impresario has known some of the most celebrated figures of jazz — from Duke Ellington to Count Basie, and from Thelonious Monk to Miles Davis. As a founder of the Newport Jazz Festival and countless other festivals around the world, Wein has brought a broad spectrum of musical artists to millions, forever changing the country’s cultural landscape.

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June 18th, 2003

Alfred Appel, author of Jazz Modernism

How does the jazz of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, and Charlie Parker fit into the great tradition of the modern arts between 1920 and 1950? In his book Jazz Modernism, cultural historian Alfred Appel compares the layering of sex, vitality, and the vernacular in jazz with the paper collages of Picasso, and the vital mix of high and low culture found in Joyce.

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June 2nd, 2003

Vincent Cannato, author of The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle to Save New York

When liberal Republican John Lindsay was elected mayor of New York in 1965, political observers described him as a White Knight, the best hope for a stagnant and troubled city. A reformer with movie-star looks, Lindsay brought glamour and hope to City Hall. At the height of his appeal, leading politicians from both parties, including Nelson Rockefeller and Robert Kennedy, feared Lindsay’s growing popularity. Some even pegged him for the White House.

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May 10th, 2003

“Blues for Clement Greenberg,” a Jerry Jazz Musician hosted roundtable on jazz criticism, with Stanley Crouch, Martha Bayles and Loren Schoenberg

The fact that writer Stanley Crouch is willing to speak his mind has been known to readers of cultural criticism for three decades. Depending on one’s outlook, his views on jazz, politics, and race often spark outrage, applause, or provoke debate. In April, 2003, Jazz Times magazine, host to Crouch’s monthly column “Jazz Alone,” published “Putting the White Man in Charge,” a provocative essay covering topics familiar to Crouch readers, most notably his aggressive defense of the jazz idiom and its African American heritage. In the essay he wrote that critics like respected Atlantic Monthly writer Francis Davis see “jazz that is based on swing and blues as the enemy and, therefore, lifts up someone like, say, Dave Douglas as an antidote to too much authority from the dark side of the tracks.”

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May 4th, 2003

David Colley, author of Blood For Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army

Prior to the closing months of World War II, American military doctrine had long held that blacks were inferior fighters who fled under fire and lacked the intelligence, reliability, and courage of white fighters. That changed in early March 1945, when, for the first time, more than two thousand African-American infantrymen entered the front lines in Germany to fight alongside white soldiers in infantry and armored divisions engaged in the final battles of World War II in Europe.

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March 30th, 2003

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on pianist Cecil Taylor

Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, who was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, and who is the country’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in a March 13, 2003 conversation about pianist Cecil Taylor.

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March 13th, 2003

Jerry Zolten, author of Great God A’Mighty – The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music

From the Jim Crow world of 1920s Greenville, South Carolina, to Greenwich Village’s Café Society in the ’40s, to their 1974 Grammy-winning collaboration on “Loves Me Like a Rock,” the Dixie Hummingbirds have been one of gospel’s most durable and inspiring groups.

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March 10th, 2003

Douglas Brinkley, author of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress in 1955 Alabama, had no idea she was changing history when, work-weary, she refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus. Now she is immortalized for the defiance that sent her to jail and triggered a bus boycott that catapulted Martin Luther King, Jr., into the national spotlight. Who was she, before and after her historic act?* Douglas Brinkley, a familiar and respected television commentator on a wide range of historical, documentary, and news programs

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February 18th, 2003

John Szwed, author of So What: The Life of Miles Davis

More than half a century after his bebop debut, and more than eleven years after his death, Miles Davis lives on. His music is used to pitch jeans, shape films, and personify an era. To this day, he is revered as the archetype of cool.

While several books have been written about Davis, including his own autobiography, due to his passion for reinvention and his extreme reticence the real story of Miles Davis has been obscured by the legend and widely misunderstood.

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January 27th, 2003

Ben Ratliff, author of Jazz: A Critics Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings

In the preface to his book Jazz: A Critics Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings, New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff writes, “You oughtn’t look at jazz only by its corners, its Hot Fives and Seven’s, its Kind of Blue’s and Love Supreme’s. You have to look at what the corners surround.”

In this spirit, his book is an exploration of jazz in its many varied forms, and opens the reader’s ears to quite surprising recordings comfortably overlooked by other guides.

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January 27th, 2003

Negro League Baseball legend Buck O’Neil

The charismatic Buck O’Neil is truly an American hero. His eloquence, grace and genuine love for people have captured the hearts and imaginations of kindred spirits worldwide. His illustrious baseball career spans seven decades and has helped make him a foremost authority and the game’s greatest ambassador.

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January 23rd, 2003

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Thelonious Monk

Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, who was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, and who is the country’’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in a December 23, 2002 conversation about jazz legend Thelonious Monk.

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December 23rd, 2002

Scott Simon, author of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball

The integration of baseball in 1947 had undeniable significance for the civil rights movement and American history. Thanks to Jackie Robinson, a barrier that had once been believed to be permanent was shattered — paving the way for scores of African Americans who wanted nothing more than to be granted the same rights as any other human being.*

In an interview with Jerry Jazz Musician publisher Joe Maita, NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon, author of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, discusses how Robinson’s heroism — and that of Dodger general manager Branch Rickey — got America to face the question of racial equality.

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December 18th, 2002

Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters

Alice Walker’s 1975 Ms. magazine article “Looking for Zora” and Robert Hemenway’s 1977 biography reintroduced Zora Neale Hurston to the American landscape and ushered in a renaissance for a writer who was a bestselling author at her peak in the 1930’s, but died penniless and in obscurity some three decades later.

Since that rediscovery of novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet Hurston, her books — from the classic love story Their Eyes Were Watching God to her controversial autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road — have sold millions of copies. Hurston is now taught in American, African American, and Women’s Studies courses in high schools and universities from coast to coast.

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December 10th, 2002

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Sonny Rollins

Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and who is the country’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in an October 21, 2002 conversation about jazz legend Sonny Rollins.

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October 21st, 2002

David Skover, author of The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon

Lenny Bruce’s words had the power to provoke laughter and debate — as well as shock and outrage. It was the force of his voice that would place him on the wrong side of the law in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Lenny committed his life to telling the truth. But the truth he told infuriated those in power, and authorities in the largest, most progressive cities in the country worked effortlessy to put him in jail. To them, Lenny’s words were filthy and depraved. But to his friends — the hip, the discontented, the fringe — his words were not only sharp and hilarious, they were a light in the dark to the repressed society of the early 1960’s.

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October 4th, 2002

Robert Cohen, author of The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960’s

“Berkeley in the sixties.” Depending on your point of view, that phrase may recall thoughts of a place and time to run toward with enthusiasm, or flee from in fear. It was a place where the traditional university curriculum gave way to the students’ pursuit of the free exchange of ideas, and was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement of 1964.

The Movement was the event that ignited the first clash of generations in a turbulent, historic decade. Its values shaped who many in America are today, its actions the genesis of the new left and new right.

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September 23rd, 2002

“The A Love Supreme Interviews” — Ashley Kahn, author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album

A successful recording generally entertains and communicates passion on an earthly, mortal level. We typically respond to an effective performance by humming the melody, tapping our feet, and sharing it with friends. It might even “stomp the blues,” as the critic Albert Murray suggests.

Few recordings, however, actually challenge a listener to address one’s personal essence.

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September 16th, 2002

Loren Schoenberg, author of The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz

Loren Schoenberg is a noted conductor, saxophonist and author who has appeared internationally and won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes. He has recorded several albums with his own big band, and also with Benny Goodman, Benny Carter and Bobby Short. He is on the faculties of the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Band Director’s Academy, and is program director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Jazz Colony and is Executive Director of The Jazz Museum In Harlem.

He is the author of The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz, a book Wynton Marsalis describes as a “thorough guide to the music from a few basic perspectives: what it is and how it’s made, its history, the people who made and continue to make it, some suggestions on how to approach it — and a whole pile of ideas.”

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September 9th, 2002

The Ralph Ellison Project: Robert O’Meally, editor of Living With Music, discusses Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison

While Ralph Ellison will forever be best remembered as author of the classic American novel of identity, Invisible Man, he also contributed significant essays on jazz that stand as compelling testaments to his era. His work included an homage to Duke Ellington, stinging critiques of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and recognition of the changing-of-the-guard taking place at Harlem’s Minton’s in the 1940’s. He wrote on musical topics from flamenco to Charlie Christian, and from Jimmy Rushing to Mahalia Jackson.

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August 20th, 2002

Will Friedwald, author of Stardust Melodies: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs

In Stardust Melodies: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs, author Will Friedwald takes these legendary songs apart and puts them together again, with unprecedented detail and understanding. Each song’s history is explored — the circumstances under which it was written and first performed — and then its musical and lyric content.

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August 2nd, 2002

Jazz Photographer Lee Tanner discusses his life in jazz

Lee Tanner began using a camera as a teenager in New York City. An avid jazz fan from the age of eight and inspired by the jazz photography of Gjon Mili, Bill Claxton, Herb Snitzer, and Herman Leonard, he turned to documenting the jazz scene with a love for the music comparable only to his creative drive for visual expression. Photography, however, was only an avocation.

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July 29th, 2002

Pulitzer Prize winning author Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Movement

For Birmingham, Alabama native Diane McWhorter, growing up in the city Edward R. Murrow described as the “Johannesburg of America” was “pleasant, because we were the privileged people.” While privilege has its rewards, even as a young girl McWhorter sensed the segregated society that supported this privilege was anything but normal.

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July 29th, 2002

Sue Mingus, author of Tonight at Noon: A Love Story

In Tonight at Noon, Sue Graham Mingus gives us an elegant and unsparingly honest memoir of a romance between American opposites: she, a product of privilege, a former midwestern WASP debutante and Smith College graduate who worked as a journalist in Europe and in New York; he (Charles Mingus), an authentic jazz titan, a brilliant, eccentric, difficult artist, a scion of Watts, Los Angeles, who would become one of America’s foremost composers.*

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July 24th, 2002

Richard Sudhalter, author of Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy Carmichael remains, for millions, the enduring voice of heartland America, a beloved counterpoint to the urban sensibility of Cole Porter and George Gershwin. The author William Zinsser said of Carmichael ,”Play me a Hoagy Carmichael song and I hear the banging of a screen door and the whine of an outboard motor on a lake — sounds of summer in a small-town America that is long gone but still longed for.”

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July 23rd, 2002

David Amram, author of Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac

The composer David Amram has been hailed by the Washington Post as “one of the most versatile and skilled musicians America has ever produced.” Since Leonard Bernstein appointed Amram as first composer-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic in 1966-67, he has become one of the most acclaimed composers of his generation, listed by BMI as one of the Twenty Most Performed Composers of Concert Music in the United States since 1974.

Amram is also known as the musical collaborator of the great mid-century American author Jack Kerouac, whose book On the Road is considered to be the artistic soul of the 1950’s.

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July 17th, 2002

The Ralph Ellison Project: interview with Lawrence Jackson, author of Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius

Author, intellectual and social critic, Ralph Ellison was a pivotal figure in American literature and history, and arguably the father of African-American modernism. Universally acclaimed for Invisible Man, a masterpiece of modern fiction, and more recently for the posthumously edited and published Juneteenth, Ellison was recognized with a succession of honors, including the 1953 National Book Award.

Lawrence Jackson’s Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius is the first thoroughly researched biography of Ellison.

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July 8th, 2002

Keith Shadwick, author of Bill Evans: Everything Happens to Me

Bill Evans (1929 – 1980) played a major role in the history of modern jazz. The New Jersey-born pianist’s groundbreaking ideas were so widely absorbed by his peers and subsequently by every new generation of musicians that he can be classed among the most influential figures in post-war jazz, ranking alongside Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

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June 24th, 2002

Farah Griffin, author of In Search of Billie Holiday: If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery

More than four decades after her death, Billie Holiday remains one of the most gifted artists of our time, and also one of the most elusive. Because of who she was and how she chose to live her life, Holiday has been the subject of both intense adoration and wildly distorted legends.

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June 24th, 2002

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on John Coltrane

Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and who is the country’s eminent jazz critic, joins us in a June 21, 2002 conversation about jazz great John Coltrane.

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June 21st, 2002

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Ralph Ellison

Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and who is the country’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in a June 21, 2002 conversation about Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison.

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June 21st, 2002

James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker

That trumpeter Chet Baker was a sensitive musician whose sound is a cherished part of the jazz landscape is well known. That he led a hard life is also pretty well known, perhaps even to the most casual music fan. His 1988 death from a fall out an Amsterdam window only added to the sad mystery surrounding his persona.

What was not known by most of us is the haunting depth of Baker’s self-destructive life; that he was an arsonist, a thief, a second-story man, a drug addict, an abusive husband and lover, a philanderer, a liar…need we go on? We could, you know.

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June 12th, 2002

Max Morath, author of The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards

American Popular Standards have become a vital part of our cultural heritage. They are the show tunes of Broadway and Hollywood, which – taken up by swing bands, jazz singers, and countless other performers of every description – were for decades the sound of popular music.

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June 5th, 2002

Hazel Rowley, author of Richard Wright: The Life and Times

The child of the fundamentalist South with an eighth-grade education, a self-taught intellectual in the working-class Communist Party of the 1930s, a black man married to a white woman, and an expatriate in France after World War II, Richard Wright was always an outsider. He went well beyond the limits of the times in which he lived, and sought to reconcile opposing cultures in his work.

“How the hell did you happen?” the Chicago sociologist Robert Park once asked Wright. In Richard Wright: His Life and Times, biographer Hazel Rowley shows how, chronicling with the dramatic drive of a novel Wright’s extraordinary journey from a sharecropper’s shack in Mississippi to international renown as a writer, fiercely independent thinker, and outspoken critic of racism.

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May 28th, 2002

Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece author Ashley Kahn

In the spring of 1959, seven musicians got together in a converted church on 30th Street in Manhattan and made jazz history. Over forty years have passed since Miles Davis assembled his famed sextet to record Kind of Blue, and in that time the album has risen to the level of masterpiece.

In Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, Ashley Kahn gives readers the unprecedented opportunity to enter the 30th Street studio and witness the creation of this remarkable album

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April 29th, 2002

Peter Levinson, author of September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle

Nelson Riddle will forever be linked with the music and recordings of such unforgettable vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Linda Ronstadt, and dozens of others. Riddle not only helped to establish Nat “King” Cole’s career in the 1950s, but was also a major participant in reviving Sinatra’s career. He served as arranger of many classic Sinatra albums, including Only the Lonely and In the Wee Small Hours.

September in the Rain is the first biography of the most highly-respected arranger in the history of American popular music.

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April 19th, 2002

The Ralph Ellison Project: Horace Porter, author of Jazz Country: Ralph Ellison in America

The first book to reassess Ralph Ellison after his death and the posthumous publication of Juneteenth, his second novel, Jazz Country: Ralph Ellison in America explores Ellison’s writings and views on American culture through the lens of jazz music.

In Jazz Country, Porter addresses Ellison’s jazz background, including his essays and comments about jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker. Porter further examines the influences of Ellington and Armstrong as sources of the writer’s personal and artistic inspiration and highlights the significance of Ellison’s camaraderie with two African American friends and fellow jazz fans — the writer Albert Murray and the painter Romare Bearden.

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April 15th, 2002

Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

On the morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob numbering in the thousands marched across the railroad tracks dividing black from white in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and obliterated a black community then celebrated as one of America’s most prosperous. Thirty-four square blocks of Tulsa’s Greenwood community, known then as the “Negro Wall Street of America,” were reduced to smoldering rubble.

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April 12th, 2002

Bill Moody, author of Looking for Chet Baker

Bill Moody’s background as a musician and his talents as a writer have made the Evan Horne Mysteries a favorite of jazz aficionados and crime-fiction fans alike. Investigating the death of Chet Baker, a major cult figure in the world of music, brings out the best in both the author and his pianist sleuth, Evan Horne. Looking for Chet Baker is his fifth Evan Horne mystery.

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April 10th, 2002

Poet Gary Glazner

Gary Mex Glazner makes his living as a poet. He is a graduate of Sonoma State University’s Expressive Arts program with an emphasis in poetry. In 1990, Glazner produced the first National Poetry Slam in San Francisco. His poetry has appeared in anthologies, periodicals, on CD, radio, television, and underwater on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. His poems have been translated into Chinese, Moldavian, Nepali, and Vietnamese. In 1997, Poets and Writers Inc. awarded him a grant to work with Alzheimer patients using poetry. Glazner is the Minister of Fun for Poetry Slam Incorporated.

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April 3rd, 2002

Tom Smothers discusses his life in comedy

Time has been an essential ingredient in the Smothers Brothers’ success. They have been considered ahead of their time, masters of timing and practitioners of timeless comedy. Now as they mark over 42 years in show business, the Smothers Brothers are being saluted as time-honored legends whose lengthy career has surpassed all other comedy teams in history.

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February 20th, 2002

The Ralph Ellison Project: filmmaker Avon Kirkland discusses the author of Invisible Man

Filmmaker Avon Kirkland’s career as a chemist was cut short by his desire to create social change. The path he chose led to filmmaking, and along the way he has profiled great men, among them Booker T. Washington and Thurgood Marshall.

His latest film is on Ralph Ellison, the great American writer whose classic book of identity, Invisible Man, stands as a monument in literature. Ellison’s wide range of intellectual breadth and profundity surprised even Kirkland, and is documented in Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, the Sundance Film Festival nominated film that has found an audience via PBS.

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February 15th, 2002

Interview with Douglas Henry Daniels, author of Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester “Pres” Young

ester Young was jazz music’s first hipster. He performed onstage in sunglasses and coined and popularized the enigmatic slang “that’s cool” and “you dig?” He was a snazzy dresser who always wore a suit and his trademark porkpie hat. He influenced everyone from B. B. King to Stan Getz to Allen Ginsberg. When he died, he was the subject of musical tributes by Charles Mingus (“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”) and Wayne Shorter (“Lester Left Town”), and incidents from his life were featured in the movie ‘Round Midnight.

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February 14th, 2002

Jazz Critic Gene Lees

Gene Lees is a well-known jazz chronicler. He is also a song lyricist, composer, singer, and author of more than a dozen volumes of jazz history and criticism, including the highly acclaimed Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White.

In You Can’t Steal a Gift, Lees writes of his encounters with four great black musicians: Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Milt Hinton, and Nat King Cole. Equal parts memoir, oral history, and commentary, each of the main chapters is a minibiography weaving together conversations Lees had with the musicians and their families, friends and associates over several decades.

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February 6th, 2002

The Ralph Ellison Project: Poet Michael Harper on Ralph Ellison

Brown University professor Michael Harper, the first Poet Laureate of the State of Rhode Island, shares his personal perspectives on Ralph Ellison.

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January 24th, 2002

The A Love Supreme Interviews: Poet Michael Harper discusses John Coltrane

Brown University professor Michael Harper, the first Poet Laureate of the State of Rhode Island, and author of the National Book Award nominated collection, Dear John, Dear Coltrane, discusses John Coltrane and reads his poems.

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January 24th, 2002

Jazz at Lincoln Center Board Chairman Lisa Schiff

  On December 12, 2001, Jazz At Lincoln Center, the world’s largest not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to jazz, announced their Board of Directors had unanimously elected longtime member Lisa Schiff as the organization’s new Chairman of the Board. Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis said, “We are all excited about Lisa Schiff becoming … Continue reading “Jazz at Lincoln Center Board Chairman Lisa Schiff”

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January 15th, 2002

Ralph Blumenthal, author of The Stork Club: America’s Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Cafe Society

For an entire generation, when Cafe Society was at its pinnacle, New York’s Stork Club was the world’s most storied night spot. It’s walls housed glamour and celebrities waited in line for the chance to be seen. Americans from all over the country, and soldiers fighting overseas, dreamed of visiting New York and being among the witnesses to the Stork Club’s elegant culture.

From its inception in the Roaring Twenties as a speakeasy for Jazz Age gangsters to its heyday in the 50’s when Jack wooed Jackie there, and headwaiters reaped $20,000 tips, everyone from Marilyn Monroe to J. Edgar Hoover gathered at the Stork Club.

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January 14th, 2002

Phil Pastras, author of Dead Man Blues: Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West

When Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton sat at the piano in the Library of Congress in May of 1938 to begin his monumental series of interviews with Alan Lomax, he spoke of his years on the West Coast with the nostalgia of a man recalling a golden age, a lost Eden. He had arrived in Los Angeles more than twenty years earlier, but he recounted his losses as vividly as though they had occurred just recently. The greatest loss was his separation from Anita Gonzales, by his own account “the only woman I ever loved,” to whom he left almost all of his royalties in his will.

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January 7th, 2002

Stephanie Stein Crease, author of Gil Evans: Out of the Cool

When Stephanie Stein Crease was a child, and her older brother started bringing home records by Gil Evans and Miles Davis, her world turned. Fascinated by the colorful orchestrations found on Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, recorded between 1957 and 1960, Crease began a life long affair with the music of Evans, a man noted critic Gary Giddins has called “one of the great figures in American music.” Gil Evans, Out of the Cool, is a culmination of her fascination of and appreciation for the work of Gil Evans.

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December 17th, 2001

The A Love Supreme Interviews: Saxophonist Joshua Redman on John Coltrane

Joshua Redman entered the jazz world with tons of expectation and perhaps an unreasonable amount of hope. Pat Metheny went so far as to suggest Redman is “the most important new musician in twenty years.”

While Metheny’s point can be argued, Redman has created some of the most consistently compelling jazz during the last ten years. His music borrows from a storied past and experiments with an elegant future.”

While Metheny’s point can be argued, Redman has created some of the most consistently compelling jazz during the last ten years. His music borrows from a storied past and experiments with an elegant future.

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December 12th, 2001

Francis Davis on his career as a critic, and on John Coltrane

Philadelphian Francis Davis is the author of several books, including The History of the Blues, Bebop and Nothingness and a forthcoming biography of John Coltrane. A contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly, he also writes regularly about music for the New York Times, among others.

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December 10th, 2001

Eric Nisenson, author of Open Sky: Sonny Rollins and His World of Improvisation

Author Eric Nisenson has devoted much of his adult life to reporting jazz. The genesis of his passion for jazz was his introduction to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue at an early age – a passion so strong it eventually led to a friendship with Miles. The subjects for his three biographies are no less than Miles, John Coltrane, and now, Sonny Rollins, all key musicians and all strong, unique personalities worthy of icon status in the world of music. Nisenson discusses his friendship with Miles and his new book, Open Sky : Sonny Rollins and His World of Improvisation

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November 29th, 2001

Nat Hentoff: on his life as a jazz critic, and memories of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme

Nat Hentoff was born in Boston in 1925 and lived there until he moved to New York City at the age of twenty-eight. For many years he has written a weekly column for the Village Voice. His column for the Washington Times is syndicated nationally, and he writes regularly about music for the Wall Street Journal. His numerous books cover subjects ranging from jazz to civil rights and civil liberties to First Amendment issues.

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November 20th, 2001

The A Love Supreme Interviews: pianist McCoy Tyner

Few musicians have had the impact on the world of music that McCoy Tyner has. His sound has influenced pianists in each of his six decades as a performer. Noted jazz critic Scott Yanow says, “Along with Bill Evans, Tyner has been the most influential pianist in jazz of the past 40 years with his chord voicings being adopted and utilized by virtually every younger pianist.”

While his career continues to move ahead, he will forever be best known as the pianist in John Coltrane’s famed Quartet of the early 1960’s, a group long since recognized as the ultimate jazz combo, whose eclectic, spirited work constantly demanded listeners to reach well beyond their safest star. A Love Supreme, recorded in 1964, is a landmark in music, and to this day the centerpiece to the Quartet’s vast, unparalled universe.

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November 8th, 2001

Gerald Early, author of Miles Davis and American Culture

Gerald Early is Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University in St. Louis, and is one of America’s most respected essayists. His work on American and African American culture is collected in Tuxedo Junction, The Culture of Bruising (National Book Award), and One Nation Under a Groove, a book on Motown.

He has edited collections on African American rhetoric, black consciousness, sports, Muhammad Ali, and African American writing about St. Louis.

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October 10th, 2001

The Ralph Ellison Project: Stanley Crouch discusses Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison

Stanley Crouch is an essayist, poet, former musician, jazz critic and author of the novel Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome. He is outspoken, controversial, clever, and right more often than many seem willing to admit. He is also a very thoughtful admirer of Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison, whose work and friendship touched Crouch enough that, when asked if he considered Ellison a mentor, without hesitation answered “Yes!” Crouch takes part in a very lively conversation about Ellison and a variety of associated topics, including Charlie Parker, and music’s place in American ritual.

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September 14th, 2001

Tony Award winning playwright Warren Leight

The Tony Award winning play Side Man dramatizes the emotional elements of a dying jazz culture and its effects on an American family whose very soul depended on it. Playwright Warren Leight’s fascinating dark comedy chronicles three decades of living through the lives of jazz sidemen, and is filled with humor, honor, passion and pain.

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August 29th, 2001

The Ralph Ellison Project: Albert Murray, author of Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray

When Albert Murray arrived at Tuskeegee Institute in 1935, Ralph Ellison was an upperclassman who was, in Murray’s words, “dressed like a ‘Joe College’ right out of Esquire magazine.” According to Murray, Ellison “represented the type of aspirations that I had been expecting for myself.”

While their paths split geographically, the two kindled an emotional and intellectual friendship that gained momentum during the era of Ellison’s creative peak, when his timeless novel of identity Invisible Man was being written, distributed, reviewed, and rewards reaped upon. They honored successes, encouraged intellectual growth, and shared a deep love of music. They were best friends.

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August 29th, 2001

The Ralph Ellison Project: Literary Executor John Callahan is interviewed about the author of Invisible Man

Being named literary executor of any writer’s estate would be quite an honor, let alone if the writer whose works you now caretake is Ralph Ellison, author of one of the 20th century’s greatest novels, Invisible Man. For long time Ellison friend John Callahan, “It was a challenge, and it was intimidating, exhilirating…”

Among the work left for Callahan was editing Ellison’s long awaited second novel, released as Juneteenth in 1999.

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July 18th, 2001

Whitney Balliet, author of Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz, 1954-2000

As jazz critic for the New Yorker magazine since 1957, and author of fifteen books, Whitney Balliett has spent a lifetime listening to and writing about jazz. Generations of readers have learned to listen to the music with his graceful guidance.

In our interview with Balliett, he discusses his latest book, Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz, 1954-2000 (St. Martin’s Press), which collects a bounty of his reviews, reporting and portraits.

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May 24th, 2001

Martha Bayles, author of Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music

Few observers of cultural history articulate their viewpoints quite like Martha Bayles. Her opinions on popular culture are intelligent, controversial, and in demand. Her essay on Miles Davis recently appeared in the New York Times, and for years she was the television and arts critic for the Wall Street Journal, where her work still appears. Her book, Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music, was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as an “important book.” The New York Times said, “Ms. Bayles tells a morality tale of how culture lost its way by adopting attitudes that undermine its finest achievements.”

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April 7th, 2001

Jeroen de Valk, author of Chet Baker: His Life and Music

Chet Baker was a star at 23 years old, winner of the Critics as well as Readers Poll in Down Beat. But much of his later life was shadowed by his drug use and problems with the law.

Chet Baker: His Life and Music gives an account of the famous trumpeter – famous as much for his tragic life as his beautiful music. In our interview, conducted via e-mail, author Jeroen de Valk talks about Baker, the life he led, the people he touched, and the legacy he left.

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March 29th, 2001

Conversations with Gary Giddins: on Bing Crosby

When Gary Giddins, the jazz critic and columnist for the Village Voice, began work on an in-depth biography of Bing Crosby, many asked him, “Why?” He has explained that Crosby, perhaps the most famous entertainer in America between 1927 and 1956, has been unjustly forgotten since his death in 1977.

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March 22nd, 2001

Interview with Ean Wood, author of The Josephine Baker Story

The effervescent smile of Josephine Baker is easily recognizable. The mellifluous tone of her voice is legendary. Epitomizing the adage “all that glitters is not gold,” her life was plagued with broken marriages, discrimination, poverty, and eventually illness.

In his book, The Josephine Baker Story, author Ean Wood, who previously wrote of George Gershwin’s life, presents us with a portrait of a truly remarkable woman whose charm, vivacity and captivating personality live on long after her death.

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September 2nd, 2000

William Zinsser, author of Mitchell and Ruff: An American Profile in Jazz

Since 1955, Dwike Mitchell and Willie Ruff have been performing, teaching, and sharing jazz with the country and the world. William Zinsser, best-selling author of On Writing Well, follows the duo to China, to the American Midwest, to New York City, and to Venice (where Ruff travels back to the roots of Western music in order to explore jazz’s heritage).

Zinsser tells how these two men, raised in small towns in the South in the 1930s and 40s, struggled and persevered to become masters of their craft–and how they came to embrace the tradition of jazz as it is handed down from one generation to the next.

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August 30th, 2000

Cherie Nutting, author of Yesterday’s Perfume: An Intimate Portrait of Paul Bowles

Fifteen years ago, Cherie Nutting returned to Morocco. She had first visited it as a child with her mother, and the images of mystery and the desert had stayed with her, fueled over the years by accounts of expatriate life and by the literature created there. In Tangier again, she met the most famous of the expatriates and author of the classic The Sheltering Sky. Cherie became a friend of Paul Bowles and part of his circle. Over the years, the friendship deepened and widened.

Yesterday’s Perfume is a memoir of that friendship and of Cherie’s love of Morocco. Cherie discusses her friendship with this extraordinary artist in an interview with Jerry Jazz Musician publisher Joe Maita.

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August 23rd, 2000