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Norman Granz: The White Moses of Black Jazz by Dempsey J. Travis

Entrepreneur Dempsey J. Travis isn’t about to win any writing awards in the near future, nor is his grandiosely titled Norman Granz: The White Moses of Black Jazz anything resembling a full-fledged account of the great producer’s career. What this scattershot project does provide is some choice anecdotes from musicians who worked with one of the most important behind-the-scenes figures in jazz history. Sandwiched among strangely lengthy biographies of prominent artists including Billie Holiday, Nat “King” Cole, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald are occasional telling comments and stories that testify to Granz’s beneficence, honesty and groundbreaking defiance of racist policies. The impresario behind Jazz at the Philharmonic, and later the mastermind of Verve Records, Granz deserves a thoroughly researched biography, and will no doubt get one someday; in the meantime, Travis’ sketchy but heartfelt commentary will hopefully plant a seed.

Originally Published