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The Jazzmen: Author Larry Tye Interviewed by Catherine Russell

June 2, 6:30 pm8 pm.
Free

Following Jazz Vespers with Amanda Monaco, please join us for this talk with Larry Tye and Catherine Russell, on Larry’s new book, The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America. Free to attend, but space is limited. Please RSVP today!

ABOUT “THE JAZZMEN”

From the New York Times bestselling author of Satchel and Bobby Kennedy, a sweeping and spellbinding portrait of the longtime kings of jazz—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie—who, born within a few years of one another, overcame racist exclusion and violence to become the most popular entertainers on the planet.

This is the story of three revolutionary American musicians, the maestro jazzmen who orchestrated the chords that throb at the soul of twentieth-century America.

Duke Ellington, the grandson of slaves who was christened Edward Kennedy Ellington, was a man whose story is as layered and nuanced as his name suggests and whose music transcended category.

Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in a New Orleans slum so tough it was called The Battlefield and, at age seven, got his first musical instrument, a ten-cent tin horn that drew buyers to his rag-peddling wagon and set him on the road to elevating jazz into a pulsating force for spontaneity and freedom.

William James Basie, too, grew up in a world unfamiliar to white fans—the son of a coachman and laundress who dreamed of escaping every time the traveling carnival swept into town, and who finally engineered his getaway with help from Fats Waller.

What is far less known about these groundbreakers is that they were bound not just by their music or even the discrimination that they, like nearly all Black performers of their day, routinely encountered. Each defied and ultimately overcame racial boundaries by opening America’s eyes and souls to the magnificence of their music. In the process they wrote the soundtrack for the civil rights movement.

Based on more than 250 interviews, this exhaustively researched book brings alive the history of Black America in the early-to-mid 1900s through the singular lens of the country’s most gifted, engaging, and enduring African-American musicians.

ABOUT LARRY TYE (author)

Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy.

Tye’s first book, The Father of Spin, is a biography of public relations pioneer Edward L. Bernays. Home Lands looks at the Jewish renewal underway from Boston to Buenos Aires. Rising from the Rails explores how the black men who worked on George Pullman’s railroad sleeping cars helped kick-start the Civil Rights movement and gave birth to today’s African-American middle class. Shock, a collaboration with Kitty Dukakis, is a journalist’s first-person account of ECT, psychiatry’s most controversial treatment, and a portrait of how that therapy helped one woman overcome debilitating depression. Satchel is the biography of two American icons – Satchel Paige and Jim Crow. Superman tells the nearly-real life story of the most enduring American hero of the last century. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon explores RFK’s amazing transformation from cold warrior to fiery leftist.

Tye’s previous book, Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, was released in 2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In addition to his writing, Tye runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship, which helps the media do a better job reporting on critical issues like public health and pandemics, mental health and the health impacts of climate change, and racial, ethnic and gender disparities in health care. Launched in 2001 and supported by a series of foundations, the fellowship trains a dozen medical journalists a year from newspapers, radio stations, and TV outlets nationwide.

From 1986 to 2001, Tye was an award-winning reporter at The Boston Globe, where his primary beat was medicine. He also served as the Globe’s environmental reporter, roving national writer, investigative reporter, and sports writer. Before that, he was the environmental reporter at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, and covered government and business at The Anniston Star in Alabama.

Tye, who graduated from Brown University, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94. He taught journalism at Boston University, Northeastern, and Tufts.

Tye is now writing, for HarperCollins, The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Satchmo Armstrong and Count Basie Transformed America.

ABOUT CATHERINE RUSSELL (recording artist)

Vocalist Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist / composer / bandleader, and Louis Armstrong’s long-time musical director. Her mother, the late Carline Ray, was a pioneering vocalist / guitarist / bassist who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Sy Oliver. Catherine’s professional life began early. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she toured and recorded with Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, Toshi Reagon and Rosanne Cash, among others, appearing on over 200 albums.

Her 2006 debut album Cat, (World Village/Harmonia Mundi), garnered rave reviews, paving the way for her 2008 sophomore release, Sentimental Streak. Catherine was a guest on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, PBS-TV’s “Tavis Smiley Show”, and NPR’s “Fresh Air”, “Piano Jazz”, “Mountain Stage”, “World Café”, and “Jazz Night in America.” She has won a prestigious German Record Critics’ Award and a Living Blues magazine critics’ poll. Catherine Russell’s third album, Inside This Heart of Mine, reached #1 on JazzWeek and Roots Music Report radio charts, while also charting on Billboard and reaching #1 on ITunes jazz charts. A fourth album, Strictly Romancin’ was released in February 2012, and was awarded Prix du Jazz Vocal (Vocal Album of The Year) by the French Jazz Academy, Grand Prix du Hot Club de France, and a Bistro Award for Outstanding Recording. Also in 2012, Catherine Russell received a Grammy® Award as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO-TV series, Boardwalk Empire.

In 2013, Catherine contributed 3 songs to the soundtrack of the film, Kill Your Darlings. Her 5th solo album, Bring It Back, was released worldwide in February of 2014 on the Jazz Village label, receiving a ★★★★★ 5 Star Review in Downbeat Magazine. In September 2016, Catherine Russell released her 6th solo album, titled Harlem On My Mind, featuring songs from the Great African American Songbook, receiving a Grammy® Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Her 7th album as a leader, Alone Together, was released in March 2019 on Dot Time Records, held the #1 position on the JazzWeek 2019 Year End chart for national airplay and received her second Grammy® Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Also in 2019, Catherine appeared in the feature film Bolden, and contributed vocals to the soundtrack album by Wynton Marsalis. She appears as featured vocalist on three tracks on Big Band Holidays II, accompanied by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

In 2022, Catherine Russell released Send For Me, her 8th album as a leader, receiving rave reviews in national media outlets; The Wall Street Journal, Relix, No Depression, JazzTimes, WBGO, Pop Matters, and others, while also performing a concert for NPR Tiny Desk (Home).

With universal acclaim, Catherine Russell has performed on four continents. She’s been a hit at major Jazz Festivals including Monterey, Newport, North Sea, JazzAscona, Montreal, Bern, Rochester International, Panama, Tanglewood, and at sold out venues like The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Scullers in Boston, The Dakota in Minneapolis, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in NYC, SFJazz in San Francisco, and Pasadena Pops in Los Angeles. All Music Guide says, “Russell emerged as a retro old school vocalist for the ages.”

Her repertoire features a selection of gems from the 1920s through the Present; vital interpretations, bursting with soul and humor. With an off-the-beaten-path song selection, sparkling acoustic swing, and a stunning vocal approach, Catherine Russell has joined the ranks of the greatest interpreters and performers of American Popular Song.

Location:

619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street
New York, NY 10022 United States