Billie Holiday: The Long Night of Lady Day

About the Singer

Considered by many to be the greatest jazz vocalist of all time, Billie Holiday lived a tempestuous and difficult life. Her singing expressed an incredible depth of emotion that spoke of hard times and injustice as well as triumph. Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, she left behind a body of work […]

George Gershwin Remembered

About the Composer

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn in 1898, the second of four children from a close-knit immigrant family. He began his musical career as a song-plugger on Tin Pan Alley, but was soon writing his own pieces. Gershwin’s first published song, “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em,” demonstrated innovative new techniques, but only […]

Sarah Vaughan: The Divine One

About Sarah Vaughan

Jazz critic Leonard Feather called her “the most important singer to emerge from the bop era.” Ella Fitzgerald called her the world’s “greatest singing talent.” During the course of a career that spanned nearly fifty years, she was the singer’s singer, influencing everyone from Mel Torme to Anita Baker. She was among the musical elite […]

Aaron Copland: A Self Portrait

About the Composer

Aaron Copland was one of the most respected American classical composers of the twentieth century. By incorporating popular forms of American music such as jazz and folk into his compositions, he created pieces both exceptional and innovative. As a spokesman for the advancement of indigenous American music, Copland made great strides in liberating it from […]

Satchmo: The Life of Louis Armstrong

About Louis Armstrong

“Louis Armstrong is jazz. He represents what the music is all about.” — Wynton Marsalis From a New Orleans boys’ home to Hollywood, Carnegie Hall, and television, the tale of Louis Armstrong’s life and triumphant six-decade career epitomizes the American success story. His trumpet playing revolutionized the world of music, and he became one of […]

Quincy Jones: In the Pocket

The Story of an American Musician

by Gerald Early PART I: THE LIGHTNING STRIKE OF EGO In the opening paragraph of his monumental essay on the first Ali-Frazier fight, Norman Mailer calls ego “the great word of the twentieth century.” But the magnitude of ego has long endured. Ego has probably been the great term for all human centuries, even before […]

Quincy Jones: In the Pocket

Filmmaker Interview – Michael Kantor

AMERICAN MASTERS Online presents an extended interview with “Quincy Jones” filmmaker Michael Kantor. Q: What did you learn while making an AMERICAN MASTERS program about Quincy Jones? A: There were two stories that I will never forget. One happened to make it into the show, when Quincy’s first wife Jeri described his approach to money […]

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker

About Charlie Parker

“There was one thing he wanted to do. He didn’t worry about anything else — as long as he could play that horn.” – Jay McShann At age eleven, he had just begun to play the saxophone. At age twenty he was leading a revolution in modern jazz music. At thirty-four, he was dead from […]