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 Hemingway of his business. Along with his work as editor of Down Beat during much of this period, his liner notes made the music understandable to those who wouldn’t know a valve trombone from a Wankel rotary engine, and enticed us to make celebrated jazz musicians our charismatic, lifelong companions through an unpretentious and charming writing style.”
In celebration of Morgenstern’s recent 85th birthday, and in honor of his amazing life story, I invite you to check out the interview.
Morgenstern takes a tour of the Institute of Jazz Studies