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  • Jazz History, Culture, Community
  • Jazz History, Culture, Community

In This Issue


…..At the heart of great jazz music are the tunes that make up the Great American Songbook.  These songs – most often written for Broadway musicals and films of early Hollywood – have become known as “American Standards,” and are some of the most revered in popular music history.


…..While many distinguished composers contributed to the Songbook, we are directing attention on three eminent figures – Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Cole Porter – whose lives have come into focus due to the recent publication of three outstanding works devoted to them: Irving Berlin: New York Genius, by James Kaplan; Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music, by Richard Crawford; and The Letters of Cole Porter, by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh.


…..In this issue of Jerry Jazz Musician, we feature interviews with these acclaimed writers and scholars who discuss their books and their subjects’ lives in and out of music.


…..In our interview on Irving Berlin, Kaplan – author of Frank: The Voice and Sinatra: The Chairman – discusses 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.


…..In our interview with Richard Crawford, the professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a past president of the American Musicological Society who has published ten books on American music, discusses Gershwin, 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.”


…..In our interview with Dominic McHugh, the Professor in Musicology at the University of Sheffield, U.K. who has published six books on American musicals (including Loverly: The Life and Times of My Fair Lady and The Complete Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner) talks about how “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.”


…..These interviews – which each include photos and several full-length songs – provide readers easy access to an entertaining and enlightening learning experience about these three giants of American popular music.


Also in this issue:

…..The winter collection of poetry offers readers a look at the culture of jazz music through the imaginative writings of its 32 contributors. Within these 41 poems, writers express their deep connection to the music – and those who play it – in their own inventive and often philosophical language that communicates much, but especially love, sentiment, struggle, loss, and joy.

…..Submissions were received from nearly 100 poets from all over the world for this collection, for which I am humbled by and ever grateful. Such participation confirms to me that there is a desire among poets and readers for a publication devoted to the richness of this music and culture, and its inspiration for creativity.

I hope you enjoy…

(The collection features the art of Henry Denander)






…..Who doesn’t recall their feelings upon first hearing Johnny Hodges?  The rich warmth of his luscious tone was instantly memorable.   The emotional, succulent sound of his instrument floated from the speaker so luxuriously it could make even a staunch atheist imagine the existence of heaven.  His music elicited wonder, cool, and passion.


…..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.


…..Also in this issue…lots of new poetry and short fiction, an interview with Paul Lopes, author of Art Rebels:  Race, Class and Gender in the Art of Miles Davis and Martin Scorsese;  a new edition of Great Encounters; a new Jazz History Quiz, and lots more…


photo by Veryl Oakland

Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of violinists Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Zbigniew Seifert, and Leroy Jenkins

In this edition, in a post titled “The Burgeoning Violin Wave,” Mr. Oakland’s photographs and stories feature the great violinists Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Zbigniew Seifert, and Leroy Jenkins

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

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

In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Chapman talks about the first-ever biography of Hodges, the enigmatic saxophonist and unforgettable musical titan.

photo Creative Commons CC0

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #53 — “Market & Fifth, San Francisco, 1986,” by Paul Perilli

…..You walk on the rose-colored strip of concrete that starts on the sidewalk, goes under the big black awning with the street light shining on it, and stops at the two heavy wood doors inviting in all of Central Ave.

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

Horne, described by Cornel West as “one of the great historians of our time” – talks about the exploitation of musicians of color and women that was profound within the economy of jazz music during its most glorified era.

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