Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Author T.J. English on His Love of Latin Jazz

Bestselling author on the music that changed his life and continues to inspire his work

Author T.J. English (photo by Ilya Yamasaki)
Author T.J. English (photo by Ilya Yamasaki)

Back when I drove a taxi in New York City, in the mid-1980s, the cabs had not yet been outfitted with air conditioning. In the spring and summer, I left the windows open to create cross-ventilation. That meant that the noise from the street was a constant presence, an orchestral cacophony dominated by honking horns, sirens, jackhammers and music. The music that pierced through all the other sounds and soothed my urban soul was Latin-jazz.

I had come from the West Coast and grown up on a mushy amalgam of mostly soft rock and whatever else was being played on local radio stations—music concocted by one corporate entity (the record companies) and peddled to another (radio stations that were often owned in part by those same corporations). American teenagers listened to what they were fed, and I was no different. Eventually, as I began developing my own tastes, I gravitated toward soul music, blues and R&B. By the time I was in my late teens, I had discovered jazz.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published

T.J. English

T.J. English is best known for his writing about the criminal underworld and criminal justice system in the U.S. He is the author of eight non-fiction books, including Havana Nocturne, Paddy Whacked and The Westies. Four of his books have been New York Times best sellers and four have been nominated for an Edgar Award in the category of Best Fact Crime. As a journalist, his work has been published in numerous national publications on many subjects, including jazz, and most especially Latin jazz, a lifelong passion.