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Daniel Zager

[Leonard S. ]

(b Albany, NY, July 24, 1942). American writer. He studied philosophy at the University of Rochester (BA 1964) and Brown University (MA 1966, PhD 1969) and from 1969 taught philosophy at the University of Santa Clara; he also studied piano with Lennie Tristano. Among his published writings are The Great Jazz Pianists (1983), a collection of interviews with 27 jazz pianists that includes biographical material and discographies, and articles for Down Beat, Keyboard, and Guitar Player. He received the first Ralph J. Gleason Memorial Fund Award for Jazz Criticism at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1976. In the early 1980s he moved from Berkeley, California, to Lexington, Massachusetts.

(selective list)

The 101 Best Jazz Albums: a History of Jazz on Records (New York, 1980) [listeners’ guide] The Great Jazz Pianists, Speaking of their Lives and Music (New York, 1983) with D. Perlo: Jazz Portraits: the Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters...

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Steve Smith

(Marc )

(b Chicago, Dec 26, 1950). American writer. He learned piano and flute as a child and pursued his formal education at Syracuse University (1970–72), Mills College (1972), and Roosevelt College (1973–5); he also studied boogie-woogie, swing, and blues piano with leading players in Chicago. In 1975 he embarked on his writing career, working for Down Beat (as associate editor, 1978–81), The Wire, Musical America, Tower Pulse!, the Village Voice, the Washington Post, Billboard, the New York Times Book Review, and Jazziz. He contributed scripts for jazz shows on NPR and held editorial positions at Guitar World (1982–3), Ear (1987–92), the JVC Jazz Festival program guide published by Tower Pulse! (from 1994), and Rhythm Music (1996–7). Mandel was a founder of the Jazz Journalists’ Association: in 1992 he became its president and in 1997 editor of its website, ...

Article

Brian Priestley

(John )

(b Camborne, England, April 17, 1920; d London, Oct 3, 1987). English writer. He became interested in jazz in the mid-1930s and established contact with record collectors such as Max Jones, Charles Fox, and Leonard Hibbs. In 1942 McCarthy and Jones founded the Jazz Sociological Society and became the editors of its journal, Jazz Music; from 1944 to 1946, to circumvent wartime rationing of paper, the journal was temporarily discontinued and instead a series of separate booklets entitled Jazz Music Books was issued. McCarthy then edited the short-lived Jazz Forum: Quarterly Review of Jazz and Literature (1946–7), and, with Dave Carey, compiled six volumes of a discography of jazz. From 1955 to 1972 he was editor of the influential periodical Jazz Monthly, which, in addition to its catholic coverage of jazz and blues, also included items on related topics such as the record industry; in March 1971...

Article

Robert Gannon and Barry Kernfeld

[Barrington Donald ]

(b London, Feb 25, 1935). English writer. From 1960 he wrote regularly for Jazz Journal (from May 1977 known as Jazz Journal International), to which he later contributed a feature on free jazz called “Avant Courier” that ran for many years; he also worked as a freelance for Music Maker, Jazz Down Under, Jazz Forum, and The Wire and contributed extensively to a photo album (with P. Gamble and P. Symes), Focus on Jazz (London, 1988), as well as to two guides to jazz on compact disc. His book The Jazz Cataclysm (1967) traces the history of jazz to the late 1950s and examines the ways in which Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman effected a transition from bop to free jazz. Later he published a number of brief biographies of leading players. McRae is an insightful writer with a clear, concise style; his work displays a sympathy towards musicians for whom self-expression is more important than commercial success....

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(David )

(b Toronto, Nov 6, 1951). Canadian writer and photographer. He studied at York University in Toronto (BFA 1973) and worked as a contributor to Coda (1973–6, 1988), DownBeat (as its Toronto correspondent, 1975–92), and Jazz Forum (as its Canadian correspondent, 1977–90), as well as writing on jazz for other periodicals; in 1978 he became the jazz critic for the Toronto Globe and Mail. Having served as a subject editor on jazz and English-language popular music for the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (1981), he was one of its associate editors for the second edition (1992). Miller has also written liner notes, notably providing the overview and notes for Radio Canada International’s Anthology of Canadian Jazz (1991), and has published many of his photographs of jazz musicians. Throughout his career he has concentrated on jazz musicians and the development of jazz in Canada, and he is the author of two collections of biographical essays and a history of the early years of jazz in Canada....

Article

Sergey Belichenko

(Pavlovich )

(b Braşov, Romania, April 20, 1947). Russian pianist, keyboard player, and journalist of Romanian birth. In Lithuania he studied accordion at Vilnius Music College (1961–5) and composition at the Lithuanian State Conservatory (1965–8). He first led quartets at the festivals in Tallinn (Estonian SSR [now Estonia]) in 1966 and 1967, and from 1969 to 1970 he led groups in Vilnius. In 1979 he began working with Vladimir Chekasin in settings ranging from a duo to a large orchestra. He performed at Soviet festivals in Riga and Krasnoyarsk, and internationally in Karlshamn (Sweden), Münster, Göttingen, and Munich (Germany), Lyons (France), Skopje (Yugoslavia), Salzburg (Austria), Venice and Rome (Italy), and Budapest, and played with such leading Lithuanian musicians as Petras Vyšniauskas, Vytautas Labutis, and the alto saxophonist Danielius Praspaliauskis. After studying journalism he published articles on Lithuanian jazz, and in 1989 he joined the staff of the new Russian magazine ...

Article

Paula Morgan

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(Michael)

(b Munich, Oct 24, 1929). American writer. He grew up in Vienna, but left in 1938 and spent the next nine years as a refugee in Denmark and Sweden. After moving to the USA in 1947 he studied history at Brandeis University (1953–6). From 1958 to 1961 he was the New York correspondent for Jazz Journal. He then served as editor of Metronome (1961), Jazz (1962–3), and Down Beat (New York editor, 1964–6, editor 1966–73) magazines; during the 1960s he also produced jazz concerts in New York and for television. In the mid-1970s he held appointments as visiting lecturer in jazz at Brooklyn College and the Peabody Institute, and in 1976 he became director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, in which capacity he has worked as an editor of the Journal of Jazz Studies (from 1982 the Annual Review of Jazz Studies...

Article

Monk Rowe

(Lee )

(b Nokomis, AL, May 12, 1916). American writer. His birthday appears incorrectly in some general reference sources as 12 June; a telephone call to his home confirmed 12 May. He grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and attended Tuskegee Institute (BS 1939), where he first began writing and later taught English (1943–6, 1946–51), while at the same time working for a master’s degree in literature from New York University (1948). He helped train the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and remained in the air force until 1962, when he retired as a major. Between 1970 and 1976 he published five books. The first, The Omni-Americans (1970), analyzes racial relations and American culture; Stomping the Blues (1976), for which he won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, explores the significance of jazz and blues. A lengthy collaboration with Count Basie resulted in Basie’s autobiography, ...

Article

Michael C. Heller

(b Cardiff, UK, Jan 8, 1948). British jazz journalist and historian. He studied music theory and clarinet at the Welsh College of Music and Drama (1967–71), followed by ten years leading a jazz-rock band under the stage name Nick Stewart. In the early 1980s he began writing on jazz for various magazines and newspapers in the UK. Since then his pieces have appeared in a range of publications in Europe and the United States, including The Western Mail, Gramophone, The Observer, Jazzwise, Jazz Times, and The Wire. His writing expanded to book-length studies in the 1990s, including highly regarded biographies of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington, as well as broader surveys of jazz in the 1980s and jazz-rock. Since the early 2000s Nicholson has been a key chronicler of the European scene, especially movements blending jazz with local folkloric forms, classical music, and electronica. His controversial ...

Article

Nucleus  

Article

(b Little Rock, AR, June 19, 1945; d Valhalla, NY, Nov 20, 1997). American writer. As a youth he played reed instruments with rock, country, and soul bands, and later performed as a member of an eclectic group called the Insect Trust, with which he recorded two albums. He was a co-founder of the Memphis Blues Festival in 1966, and the following year graduated from the University of Arkansas. In New York thereafter he became a widely published freelance writer on jazz, rock, and the avant garde. From 1975 he was a regular reviewer for the New York Times and in 1981 he was appointed to its staff of jazz and pop critics. Palmer wrote four books, the most important of which was a study of the Delta blues (Deep Blues, New York and London, 1981). He held teaching positions at Bowdoin College, Memphis State University, Brooklyn College, CUNY, Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Mississippi, where he worked after leaving the ...

Article

Daniel Zager

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Robert (D.) ]

(b New York, c1945). American writer. He studied clarinet and drums and played drums in workshops with Jaki Byard (1968–71) and Cedar Walton (1972). In the 1960s and 1970s he wrote for American and European periodicals, including Down Beat, Jazz Journal, and Jazz Forum, and in 1975 he began publishing the monthly magazine Cadence, which in the following years printed many wide-ranging interviews with jazz and blues musicians and reviews of recordings. Later he formed Cadence Jazz Records (1980), which by the late 1990s had issued more than 100 recordings; North Country Record Distribution (1983), which distributes the jazz and blues recordings of more than 900 small independent labels; Cadence Jazz Books (1992), which publishes reference books, histories, and discographies; and CIMP (1996), for which he had produced about 100 recordings by the turn of the century. He donated his extensive indexed collection of books and journals, covering jazz and blues literature in the English language, to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library (...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b New York, Oct 31, 1950). American writer. After studying music at CUNY and at the guitar center of the New School for Social Research he worked as an editor, feature writer, and columnist for the periodical of Tower Records, Pulse (1983–91), and contributed numerous articles to Down Beat (1984–93). While serving as a music critic for The Nation (from 1986) he was a columnist for 7 Days (1987–9) and Taxi (1988–90); he then wrote essays for Atlantic Monthly and taught at CCNY (both from 1991). As both a music critic and a feature writer he has contributed to the New York Post (1988–90), the New York Daily News (from 1993), and Fi (1996–9), and he has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and Musician...

Article

John Chilton

[Hans Georg ]

(b Brugg, Switzerland, April 7, 1918). Swiss writer. His numerous articles have appeared in magazines published in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, and Canada, and he has given lectures on jazz in several countries. One of the most knowledgeable jazz writers, he specializes in musicians of the pre-bop era and writes with a deep understanding of the improviser’s craft; his biographical features clearly indicate the trust and confidence that his subjects, who are usually veteran musicians, place in him. Although Simmen studied piano for seven years he never played professionally, but his knowledge of keyboard technique makes his articles on jazz pianists particularly incisive. His extraordinarily acute musical ear allows him to recognize jazz soloists with ease, and his lectures on individual musicians are models of learned enthusiasm.

(selective list)

“Carnet de notes, xvii: Mrs. Emily Kraft-Banga and Mr. Kaiser Marshall,” BHcF, no.208 (1971), 4; no.209 (1971), 7; rev. Eng. trans. in ...

Article

Daniel Zager

(b Thomaston, CT, June 8, 1904; d New York, Dec 16, 1970). American writer. In the mid-1930s he provided scripts for “Saturday Night Swing Session,” the first series of jazz programs to be broadcast live on network radio. With Fred Ramsey, he collaborated on the writing of scripts for “Jazz in America” (1942–3), a series of radio programs produced by the Office of War Information, and on the compilation of Jazzmen (1939), an important early anthology, for which he also contributed essays; he wrote The Jazz Record Book (1942) with Ramsey and others, as well as many reviews, articles, and liner notes. In 1959 he received the “Silver Medal” award from Down Beat. Smith was a founder of the Institute of Jazz Studies, where his personal papers are now held.

(selective list)

ed. with F. Ramsey, Jr.: Jazzmen: the Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men who Created it...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Boston, MA, May 10, 1937). American music critic, publicist, and editor. Solomon is best known for her contributions to the Village Voice, but has also written for Down Beat, Country Music, Hit Parader, the News World, and Us. She was one of the first women involved in popular music criticism; her work focused on folk music of the 1960s, jazz, blues, rock, and country music. Solomon’s column in the Village Voice was called “Riffs.” She also served as editor for the magazine ABC-TV Hootenanny (1963–4), which highlighted performers on the television show of the same name who were just beginning to rise to fame, including Judy Collins, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson. Other writers whose work appeared in the magazine included Theodore Bikel and Jean Shepard. Another of her important editing positions was on the magazine New Musical Express (NME) in the 1970s. Solomon also had a brief tenure as a publicist for Chess Records, where she produced a number of liner notes. Her commentary on such diverse subjects as J.J. Cale and Paul McCartney has given her voice a lasting impression in the music business....

Article

Daniel Zager

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Cambridge, MA, Oct 18, 1908; d Key West, FL, Dec 18, 1966). American writer. He learned to play drums before attending Harvard University as an undergraduate (BS 1931) and law student (1932–4), then studied medieval English literature at Yale University (PhD 1942); at graduate school he was a founder of the United Hot Clubs of America, a jazz appreciation society. While pursuing a career as a professor in English literature at several universities he served as a columnist on jazz for Variety and Saturday Review, contributed to Down Beat, Record Changer, Esquire, Harper’s, and Life, and edited articles on jazz for Musical America. In 1950 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to begin work on The Story of Jazz (1956), a historical survey that became widely used. He developed a course on jazz at New York University in 1950 and another at Hunter College, where he settled the following year. Stearns founded the ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(b London, Oct 31, 1930). English writer. In 1950 he ran a jazz club near London in which a number of well-known British bop musicians performed, and from 1957 to 1960 he was the secretary of an informal group known as the Contemporary Jazz Society. To broaden the society’s activities he began to interview musicians, including Americans who were visiting England; some of these interviews were later published in Melody Maker (1959–60). In 1961–2 Tomkins was a freelance contributor to Jazz News, and in 1962 he began an association with Crescendo which continued into the 1980s; he was its editor and art editor from 1966 to 1967 and served as a freelance editor, contributor, and art director from 1970. Throughout this association he published each month three or four interviews with jazz musicians, which now represent a major archive of source material for the study of jazz. Later he was a reviewer for and contributor to the ...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b New York, April 10, 1918; d New York, April 30, 2000). American writer. His father was concert master for the conductor Arturo Toscanini. He was interested in jazz from a young age and attended Columbia University (AB 1939) to be closer to the jazz movement in Harlem; while a student he published articles on jazz in The Spectator. Following graduation he edited Swing: the Guide to Modern Music (c1939–40), Listen (1940–42), and the Review of Recorded Music (1945–6). As the editor of Metronome: Modern Music and its Makers (1943–55) he changed the focus of the journal from classical music and white swing groups to other aspects of jazz, notably bop and its African-American components; in 1950 he designed the Metronome Yearbook. In addition Ulanov organized all-star bop groups which broadcast on WOR (1947) and published biographies of Duke Ellington (...

Article

Michel Laplace

(b Paris, March 10, 1920; d Paris, June 22, 1959). French cornetist, songwriter, and jazz critic. In 1934 he began to play trumpet in a group with his brother, the drummer Alain Vian. Influenced by Bix Beiderbecke, he then played cornet with Claude Abadie (1943–7, 1949–50), with whom he recorded Tin Roof Blues (1946, Swing 212), and he led his own group at Le Tabou in Paris (1949). He may be seen along with his brother in the film Le désordre à vingt ans (1967); by 1950, however, he had ceased to play trumpet. He recorded as a singer with the Fol brothers (1947), and later recorded some of his own songs with the pianist Jimmy Walter and Claude Bolling (1955). Together with Michel Legrand, he wrote the first French rock-and-roll tunes (1956), and his hit song ...