Nat Hentoff

Nat’s Contributions

April 2010    Final Chorus

Annie Ross & the Jazz Masters

The most startling phone call I ever received was in 2004 from someone I had never met. He began by saying, “This is probably the best message you’ve ever gotten from your government.” It was Dana Gioia, then chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts...

March 2010    Final Chorus

Vince Guaraldi: That Joyous Thing

Despite writing about jazz musicians for over 60 years, I am sometimes sharply reminded that I’ve essentially missed, or badly underestimated, a vital individualist. It happened again on Nov. 28 as I was listening to National Public Radio’s wide-ranging...


January/February 2010    Final Chorus

Torture Chamber Music

Nat Hentoff looks at how music has been used for torture and what musicians are doing about it.


November 2009    Columns

From 4 Years Old to 84, A Jazz-Band Ball

Randy Sandke's Jazz for Juniors CD makes Nat Hentoff feel like a kid again.

August/September 2009    Final Chorus

Final Chorus: Listening Guides for M.D.s and Us

When I was a kid, doctors made house calls and learned more about a patient’s living and emotional conditions than they did taking a medical history in an office. These days, many increasingly overburdened doctors can usually give a patient little more than...

April 2009    Final Chorus

How Jazz Helps Doctors Listen

There is a growing momentum in medical education to make doctors aware that they not only take the patient’s history, but, much more meaningfully, must listen to his or her stories about why they came to a doctor. Too often a physician makes a diagnosis...

March 2009    Final Chorus

Oprah & the Jazz Image

A little exposure could go a long way, if only...


January/February 2009    Final Chorus

Going Inside Jazz With Wynton

Nat Hentoff gives a thumbs up to Wynton Marsalis' new book

December 2008    Final Chorus

What About Mingus?

Is this innovative figure being forgotten?

November 2008    Final Chorus

A Jazz Bridge to Musicians in Need

Just as certain musicians—Armstrong, Parker, Coltrane—have influenced so many others, so the Jazz Foundation of America has helped spur a vital regional organization, the Philadelphia-based Jazz Bridge Project (215-517-8337;, to be of multi...

October 2008    Final Chorus

Jazz’s First Lady of Charity

When Phoebe Jacobs, longtime friend and associate of Louis Armstrong, says, “Don’t let anyone tell you Louis is dead because he’s not,” she’s not talking only about the continuing presence of his music all around the world. As the central force of the Louis...

September 2008    Final Chorus

Old Country Jewish Blues & Ornette

There’s a country music song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?,” of which I never tire, and it jumped to mind as I was reading an advance copy of Ben Ratliff’s characteristically illuminating new book, The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (Times Books). The...

August 2008    Final Chorus

Jazz Revelations for Baby Boomers

A lawyer I know began his jazz listening with the bebop of Bird and Dizzy, although he knew they had forebears whom he intended to sample eventually. Upon hearing Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues” on Newark jazz station WBGO, he excitedly called me: “Where...

June 2008    Final Chorus

Is Jazz Black Music?

In January, I was on a panel at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The subject, “Is Jazz Black Music?” is still a lively and even combative one in some quarters. When I was invited, what first came to mind was Duke Ellington telling me long ago that in the 1920s, he...

May 2008    Final Chorus

New Finds for the Jazz Bookshelf

More than the rest of us who write about jazz, Whitney Balliett’s words describing music often turned into music. Yet the last book he wrote before his death last year was turned down by such mainstream publishers as Oxford University Press (which had published...

April 2008    Final Chorus

Swinging Spoken Words

When I came upon video interviews with 280 jazz musicians (available on CD, DVD, audiocassette and in print), it was for me like hearing the voices of participants in the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, where our swinging liberties were being...

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About Nat Hentoff