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Leslie Gourse Dies

Jazz critic Leslie Gourse died Thursday December 23, 2004 at age 65. Born in Fall River, Mass., Gourse was a noted jazz author, critic and biographer.

Gourse, who lived in New York City for most of her life, wrote her first book in 1961, a romance entitled With Gall and Honey: The Love Story of an American Girl in Israel, which won the Columbia-Doubleday award. She followed that book with a book on contemporary jazz.

Gourse wrote biographies about numerous jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Wynton Marsalis, Thelonious Monk, Joe Williams, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. She also wrote biographies about other influential figures such as gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, pop musician Gloria Estefan, puppeteer Jim Henson and historical figure Pocahontas.

Gourse also wrote articles that appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine and other New York publications on many topics, including New York, social trends, Paris and Native Americans; guides to New York City for both tourists and students; and children’s and young adults’ books, including The Congress.

Gourse won several awards for her writing, including an ASCAP award for a series of articles on female jazz musicians and the Deems Taylor Award.

She is survived by her mother.

Originally Published