Random thoughts from a resident of the Jazz States of America: this past weekend I checked in with Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker to see how his book on Detroit jazz was coming along. (Full disclosure: Mark is a friend and hails from Night Lights’ home base of Bloomington.) The book, Made in Detroit: Jazz from the Motor City (Univ. of Michigan Press), is described by Mark as “profiles and essays focused on modern and contemporary players, among them Gerald Wilson, Hank, Thad and Elvin Jones, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Louis Hayes, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, Marcus Belgrave, Geri Allen, Bob Hurst, Karriem Riggins, etc. In progress.” Another friend, singer David Floodstrand, says he’s working on “Rush Street, Chicago’s Street of Dreams, a history of Chicago’s nightlife and entertainment district.”
I sought out these updates because I’d been thinking about my penchant for reading histories of jazz in particular cities, and wanted to put together a list of previously-published titles for the Night Lights site. In a number of instances, these books have been written by hometown historians as a labor of love. I tried to stick to volumes that are concerned primarily with a comprehensive chronological look, but there are others certainly worthy of mention, such as bassist Bill Crow’s memoir From Birdland To Broadway, which functions indirectly–well, pretty directly, really–as an account of the mid-20th century New York City jazz scene, and Sam Stephenson’s Jazz Loft Project, an almost laboratory-like look at one specific beehive of jazz-and-arts culture in 1950s and 60s NYC.
I can’t lay claim to having read all of the books listed below, but I’ve finished many of them and intend to read the ones I haven’t. If I’m overlooking anything (and I surely am), comment below or shoot me your suggested addition through the Night Lights contact form.
The List: Books About Jazz Cities
- Music At The Crossroads: Lives And Legacies Of Baltimore Jazz, Mark Osteen, Frank J. Graziano.
- The Boston Jazz Chronicles: Faces, Places and Nightlife, 1937-1962, Richard Vacca.
- Destination Chicago Jazz, Sandor Demlinger, John Steiner.
- Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History, 1904-1930, William Howland Kenney.
- A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM And American Experimental Music, (Chicago) George E. Lewis.
- Cleveland Jazz History, Joe Mosbrook.
- Before Motown: A History Of Jazz In Detroit, 1920-1960, Lars Bjorn, Jim Gallert.
- Jazz From Detroit, Mark Stryker.
- Indianapolis Jazz: The Masters, Legends and Legacy of Indiana Avenue, David Williams.
- Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime To Bebop, Frank Driggs, Chuck Haddix.
- Goin’ To Kansas City, Nathan W. Pearson.
- Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz In Los Angeles, Clora Bryant, Buddy Collette, Steve Isoardi, others
- The Dark Tree: Jazz And Community Arts In Los Angeles, Steve Isoardi.
- Joined At The Hip: A History Of Jazz In The Twin Cities, (Minneapolis/St. Paul) Jay Goetting.
- Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans, Thomas Brothers.
- A Trumpet Around The Corner: The Story Of New Orleans Jazz, Samuel Charters.
- Jazz: A History Of The New York Scene, Samuel Charters, Leonard Kunstadt
- 52nd Street: The Street Of Jazz, (NYC) Arnold Shaw
- Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1922-1950, Barbara J. Kukla.
- Jumptown: The Golden Years Of Portland Jazz, 1942-1957, Robert Dietsche.
- Rhythm In The Rain: Jazz In The Pacific Northwest (Portland and Seattle), Lynn Darroch.
- San Francisco Jazz, Medea Isphording Bern
- Harlem Of The West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, Elizabeth Peppin, Lewis Watts.
- Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots Of Jazz In Seattle, Paul De Barros, Eduardo Calderon.
- City Of Gabriels: The History Of Jazz In St. Louis, 1895-1973, Dennis Owsley.
- ‘Point from which creation begins’: The Black Artists’ Group Of St. Louis, Benjamin Looker.
Night Lights Shows About Jazz Cities
- Boppin’ In Beantown (Boston)
- Chicago Calling: Unsung Heroes Of The City’s Hardbop Scene
- Returning The Call: More From The Unsung Hardbop Heroes Of Chicago
- Indiana Avenue: Black Boulevard Of Jazz (Indianapolis)
- Come On Down To Central Avenue: Jazz In Mid-20th Century Los Angeles
- The Memphis Mafia: Mabern, Strozier, Coleman and Little
- Portraits Of Harlem
- Jazz Scene San Francisco