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 28th, 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”

. . Ralph Ellison Billie Holiday Langston Hughes   . …..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 … 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

Housing affordability and discrimination — a continuing worldwide problem

“Dear God! Must we not live? And when a whole city of white folk led and helped by banks, Chambers of Commerce, mortgage companies and ‘realtors’ are combing the earth for every bit of residential property for whites, where in the name of God are we to live and live decently if not by these same whites?”

– W. E. B. Dubois

 

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Lack of affordable housing — and housing discrimination — is a worldwide problem…From Hamburg to Seattle, this is an issue that challenges even the best of communities.  People who have lived in “inner-city” neighborhoods for generations are being displaced by young professionals, leaving them a long distance from where the good jobs are, with access to public transportation and essential services not always a practical option.

This is nothing new, of course.  Economics and race have long been at the center of the quest for affordable housing and continues to play a major role in housing discrimination.

Several years ago I was fortunate to interview the author Kevin Boyle, winner of the National Book Award for his book Arc of Justice, which told the story of an African American doctor named Ossian Sweet who attempted to move his family into an all-white, 1925 Detroit neighborhood.  The story is

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July 10th, 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

A Black History Month Profile: Charlie Parker

In an interview originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician in 2014, Charlie Parker biographer Stanley Crouch talks about the great saxophonist’s life and his book, Kansas City Lightening:  The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker

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February 28th, 2018

A Black History Month Profile: Louis Armstrong

In an interview originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician in 2014, Louis Armstrong biographer Thomas Brothers talks about his second volume devoted to the most eminent jazz musician’s life, Louis Armstrong:  Master of Modernism.

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February 21st, 2018

A Black History Month Profile: Madam C.J. Walker

In an interview originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician in 2004, Madam C.J. Walker biographer A’Lelia Bundles talks about  Ms. Walker, who established herself as a pioneer of the modern black hair-care and cosmetics industry, set standards in the African-American community for corporate and community giving, and helped create the role of the 20th Century, self-made American businesswoman.

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February 13th, 2018

Revisiting interviews with Vietnam War writers Karl Marlantes and David Maraniss

In the midst of the Ken Burns’ film The Vietnam War (so far, sensational),  I am reminded of my own experience with the war, which, as an 18-year- old in 1972, left me, fortunately, untouched physically but engaged in other ways.  My big brother was in the very first draft lottery, and the image of our family sitting around our TV set, anxiously awaiting the results of the lottery and the impact it could have on my brother and so many of his friends, is burned in my memory.  (Miraculously, he drew #355!)

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area meant I had a front row seat during Cal’s Free Speech Movement, San Francisco State (where my brother attended and provided our family with daily reports about the turmoil there), Haight-Ashbury, Berkeley’s People’s Park, and ongoing events associated with the civil rights movement.  It was a powder keg time with Vietnam at the centerpiece, and we all grew up pretty quickly.

Music, of course, was a key component of the Vietnam generation, and San Francisco was loaded with

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September 26th, 2017

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

Watching the impact Hurricane Irma is having on countless lives this week brought back memories of stories that came out of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.  In the midst of all the devastation, many people left the Crescent City permanently, including a handful of jazz musicians who made the move to Portland at the invitation of the Portland Jazz Festival organization (now known as PDX Jazz).

In 2006 I interviewed two of those musicians — Devin Phillips, who has become a fixture on Portland’s jazz scene and is its most popular and accomplished saxophonist, and Mark DiFlorio, a drummer who lived in Portland before moving to Seattle (his website indicates he is now living in Los Angeles).  Their stories are remarkable, and this interview is worth revisiting…

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September 11th, 2017

“Civil Liberties and Jazz — Past, Present and Future” — A 2005 Jerry Jazz Musician conversation with journalist Nat Hentoff

In honor of the great American journalist Nat Hentoff — who died yesterday at age 91 — I am publishing a 2005 interview I conducted with him as he turned 80.

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January 8th, 2017

Gary Giddins discusses Thelonious Monk

If you do a blindfold test and play Monk, the listener is likely going to know it’s him after about two bars. Everything about the way he approaches the piano and music is so distinctive. People used to use words like idiosyncratic and eccentric, but there is, of course, more than that — there is a tremendous beauty in Monk’s music, and it is peculiar to him. Everything about his attack, the particular percussiveness of his style, his use of chords, his astonishing time, can only be described as “Monkian.” And in terms of his almost exclusive reliance on jazz, most great jazz pianists have some

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October 17th, 2016

Interview with Thelonious Monk biographer Robin D.G. Kelley

“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

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October 14th, 2016

Ben Ratliff on John Coltrane

Longtime accomplished New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff has left the paper. He was a terrific writer who had the ability to pique my interest in an artist in short, reliable, and often brilliant reviews.

I had the privilege of meeting him a few times over the telephone and in person. He joined me in a 2003 conversation with Bruce Lundvall and Joshua Redman about the business of jazz music, talked with Paul Morris about his book Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings, and in 2008, we talked about his book on John Coltrane, The Story of a Sound, which is published

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August 12th, 2016

JJM interviews on Chet Baker and Miles Davis

With the Miles Davis and Chet Baker films now in distribution, there is a marked increase in traffic on this website’s content that is devoted to them, including several interviews that we conducted with biographers and family members. I have chosen five of them for you to consider spending some time with, featuring Ashley Kahn, James Gavin, John Szwed, Carol Baker and Gerald Early.

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April 18th, 2016

Celebrating African American History Month — Exclusive Jerry Jazz Musician interviews with and about prominent African Americans

Historian Douglas Brinkley discusses the life of Rosa Parks _____ For years, we have published exclusive interviews with prominent historians on a variety of figures and topics essential to American history that can also be put into the “American American History” category. Some examples: Musicians: Biographers discuss John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, … Continue reading “Celebrating African American History Month — Exclusive Jerry Jazz Musician interviews with and about prominent African Americans”

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February 2nd, 2015

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

Celebrating African American History Month — Exclusive Jerry Jazz Musician interviews with and about prominent African Americans

For years, we have published exclusive interviews with prominent historians on a variety of figures and topics essential to American history that can also be put into the “American American History” category. Some examples:

Musicians:

Biographers discuss John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, W. C. Handy, Cab Calloway, Sam Cooke, Lena Horne, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, Jelly Roll Morton, Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins, and Josephine Baker

Civil Rights:

Historians — including National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners — talk about the lives of Rosa Parks, Ralph Ellison, Madame C.J. Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Reverend C.L. Franklin, Bayard Rustin, the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and the events of the Tulsa race riots of 1921, 1960’s Birmingham, Alabama

Sports:

Including interviews about Satchel Paige, The Harlem Globetrotters, Joe Louis, Negro League Baseball, Jack Johnson, Curt Flood and Jacke Robinson

There are countless other interviews and subjects to be discovered…If you are looking to do research for papers or to simply enjoy a favorite topic of history, we invite you to click here to get to a comprehensive list of interviews. Alternatively, you can find these interviews by doing a basic search.

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February 9th, 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

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

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

      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 million copies. He wrote his own songs, hired his own musicians, and started … 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

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 rising. Ossian Sweet, a proud Negro doctor — the grandson of a slave … Continue reading “Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice”

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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, daughter of Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, discusses her life with her father, and on being a child of 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

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

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

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

In This Issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

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

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

The Joys of Jazz

In new podcasts, Bob Hecht tells three stories; one about Miles Davis’ use of space in his music, one on the mutual admiration society of Sinatra, Lady Day, and Lester Young, and the other about the train in jazz and blues music.

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Ida B. Wells” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #126

In 1964, along with the orchestra of arranger Lalo Schifrin (pictured), this flutist/alto sax player recorded one of the first “Jazz Masses,” and soon after studied transcendental meditation in India. He would eventually become well known as a composer of music for meditation. Who is he?

Great Encounters

Dexter Gordon tells the story of joining Louis Armstrong’s band in 1944, and how they enjoyed their intermission time.

Art

In this edition of Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light,” photographs of Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk are featured.

Short Fiction

"Strings of Solace," a short story by Kimberly Parish Davis

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Short Fiction

"And so we went to Paris," a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Coming Soon

National Book Award winning author for non-fiction Jeffrey Stewart is interviewed about his book The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke...Legendary producer, Blue Note Records discographer, and Mosaic Records co-founder Michael Cuscuna talks about his life in jazz.

In the previous issue

The question “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?” was posed via email to a small number of prominent and diverse people, and the responses of Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who participated...Also, the publication of the winning story in our 50th Short Fiction contest; an interview with Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell; a collection of jazz poetry; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; the March edition of "On the Turntable," and lots more...Click here to be taken to the issue.

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