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

In May of 2024, Major League Baseball announced that it is absorbing available Negro Leagues statistics into the sports official record books.  In this 2004 interview,  Neil Lanctot, who painstakingly reconstructed the institutional history of Black professional baseball, talks in detail about the league’s important role in the sport (and country) during the height of its existence.

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June 28th, 2024

Interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?: An Oral History of the 60’s Girl Groups

Little is known of the lives of many of the young Black women who – in the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s – sang, wrote, created, and popularized their generation-defining music, and even less about the challenges they faced while performing during such a complex era, one rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s endeavor at giving them an opportunity to voice their meaningful experiences.

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May 14th, 2024

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

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

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April 29th, 2024

From the Interview Archive: Jazz Producer, Discographer, and Entrepreneur Michael Cuscuna

Few music industry executives have had as meaningful an impact on jazz music as Michael Cuscuna, who passed away on April 20 at the age of 75.  He dedicated his life to music – particularly to the concept of mining and marketing the music recorded a generation ago by essential and under-appreciated jazz musicians buried deep in record label catalogs. 

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April 23rd, 2024

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

 . . In this 2006 interview, John Hammond biographer Dunstan Prial talks about the life and career of one of the most charismatic and powerful figures in the history of American music.   . . ___ . .     photo by David Schull . Dunstan Prial, author of The Producer: John Hammond and the … Continue readingFrom the Interview Archive: Dunstan Prial, author of The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music

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April 19th, 2024

A Black History Month Profile: Miles Davis

In a 2003 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, John Szwed, author of So What: The Life of Miles Davis, reveals a brilliant, inventive, intensely driven musician who was plagued by a host of internal conflicts and contradictions.  “Miles’ life as a whole is not easy to grasp,” Szwed reflects, “and the meaning of it, with or without his help, is resistant to quick interpretations.”

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February 29th, 2024

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

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 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 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

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: 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

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

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

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

“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

Michael Cuscuna announces the release of Francis Wolff’s Blue Note session photographs

Mosaic Records co-founder Michael Cuscuna shares news concerning the availability of previously unreleased photographs of Blue Note Records sessions taken by Francis Wolff

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August 8th, 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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Catalano, author of Clifford Brown : The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter

Few enthusiasts and scholars would argue the place trumpeter Clifford Brown holds in jazz history. His work, sadly cut short by his death in 1956, is dramatic, creative, revered. Until now, there has not been a body of work on his life to better acquaint us with his play, his life in and out of jazz, and his enthusiasm for life. Author Nick Catalano, whose love for Brownie had its beginnings at age 14 when he briefly shared a bandstand with him, has given us Clifford Brown : The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, a critically-acclaimed, newly released biography

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August 22nd, 2000

In This Issue

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

(featuring the art of Paul Lovering)

Publisher’s Notes

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

The Sunday Poem

photo via NegativeSpace
“Why I Play Guitar” by C.J. Trotter...

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

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

Interview

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

Book Excerpt

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

In Memoriam

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

Poetry

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

Art

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

Poetry

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

Click here to read more poetry published in Jerry Jazz Musician

Calling All Poets!

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

Short Fiction

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

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

Interview

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

Playlist

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

Feature

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

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

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

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

In Memoriam

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

Book Excerpt

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

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

Jazz History Quiz #173

photo of Louis Armstrong by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Described as a “Louis Armstrong sound-alike on both trumpet and vocals” whose recording of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was so close to Armstrong’s live show that some listeners thought Armstrong was copying him, this trumpeter (along with Bobby Stark), was Chick Webb’s main trumpet soloist during the 1930’s. Who is he?

Community

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

Contributing Writers

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

Coming Soon

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

Interview Archive

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

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