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December 2021

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In 1959, a top-notch crew of musicians gathered in Hollywood to record an album featuring vocalist Gene Howard. There was a catch, though: No one, including Howard, would be credited for it. Why? Because the album’s concept—a man singing love songs written for women without changing pronouns—was deemed dangerously risqué. James Gavin explores the secret history of Love Is a Drag and how it resonates in today’s jazz world.


She started off as a singer—and she still is—but since COVID broke out, Alicia Olatuja has become something else too: a new kind of vocal coach. Veronica Johnson learns more about Olatuja’s Vocal Breakthrough Academy, an online program meant not just for vocalists but for anyone interested in improving their lives through the making of music.


One hundred years ago in Newark, Ohio, a boy was born who would grow up to revolutionize jazz singing. In honor of Jon Hendricks’ centennial, fans Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Sheila Jordan, and Jazzmeia Horn join his daughter Michele Hendricks to discuss and celebrate the great man’s legacy. 

Veronica Swift (photo: Matt Baker)
Veronica Swift (photo: Matt Baker)


At the ripe old age of 27, Veronica Swift is ready to retire the descriptor “jazz singer.” To hear her tell it, she’s after something that’s harder to define: temperamentally ambiguous material, thorny lyrical subtexts, difficult emotions—all the stuff that forces a vocalist to keep adapting and evolving. As Stephanie Jones discovers, she’s up for the challenge.


JT Notes
Opening Chorus: Tony Bennett’s retirement; a new book on Michael Brecker; Kate McGarry; Mary LaRose; and farewells to John Sheridan, Jemeel Moondoc, Baron Browne, Ralph Irizarry, Phil Schaap, Ruth Cameron Haden, George Wein, George Mraz, Dottie Dodgion, Pee Wee Ellis, and Dr. Lonnie Smith
Frank D’Rone
Before & After: Nnenna Freelon
Overdue Ovation: 
Roseanna Vitro

Audio Files: Brent Butterworth on party speakers
Chops: Jazz musicians as A&R scouts
Gearhead: Poll Winners reunited, instrumentally speaking
Artist’s Choice: Lorraine Feather’s favorite song lyrics

Reviews: Kurt Elling’s surprising new collaboration with Charlie Hunter, “lost” Art Blakey recordings from 1961, Esperanza Spalding, Andrew Cyrille, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and more

Cover image of Victoria Swift by Matt Baker