Howard Mandel

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HM at Coney Island. Photo by Marc PoKempner

I’m a Chicago-born (and after 30 years in NYC, recently repatriated) writer, editor, author, arts reporter for National Public Radio, consultant and nascent videographer — a veteran freelance journalist working on newspapers, magazines and websites, appearing on tv and radio, teaching at New York University and elsewhere, consulting on media, publishing and jazz-related issues. I’m president of the Jazz Journalists Association, a non-profit membership organization devoted to using all media to disseminate news and views about all kinds of jazz.

I’ve written Miles, Ornette, Cecil:Jazz Beyond Jazz (Routledge, 2008) and Future Jazz (Oxford University Press, 1999), besides hundreds of articles, profiles, reviews, interviews for Down Beat, the Village Voice, Billboard, the Washington Post, Ear, RhythmMusic, The Wire (London), Swing Journal (Tokyo), Jazz Rytmit (Helsinki), Bravo! (Sao Paulo), Counterpoint (Ukraine) and lots of record liner annotations. I was senior editor of The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz and Blues. I created the new blues curriculum for the Thelonious Monk Institute’s Jazz in America website as well as six courses on American and world music and writing about the arts for NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Mostly in pursuit of music, I’ve traveled to England, Finland, Russia, Cuba, West Africa, Trinidad, Mexico and throughout the U.S. and Canada. I lectured under auspices of the U.S. State Department in Armenia and Kiev during the second annual Jazz Appreciation Month in April 2002, have moderated or appeared on panels at conferences and conventions in New York, Newport, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Toronto, Tampere and Portland, Oregon, presented papers at the Leeds School of Music Jazz Happening, the Heidelburg University Center for American Studies, Experience Music Project’s Pop Conference and the Guelph Jazz Colloquium.

I produce the annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards – a megillah in itself.

Urban rhythm ‘n’ blues – doo-wop hits, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Redding, Aretha and Motown — as well as Broadway musicals, Miles Davis, ’60s rock, and avant-gardists of the grassroots, highly effective Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (discovered via Chicago’s the Jazz Record Mart/Delmark Records) inspired my interests in music. I was a long haired smartaleck out of Syracuse University working as a copy clerk on the city desk of the Chicago Daily News, enthralled with Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers, French and Hollywood movies, modernist, experimental and crime fiction when enlisted as a third-string music reviewer in 1973. Blues doyenne Mama Stella Yancey, reggae singer Toots Hibbert and saxophonist Grover “Mr. Magic” Washington Jr., were among my first interviews. Filing overnight reviews of national and local acts playing Chicago-area venues, I reported on the Fania Allstars, Betty Carter, John McLaughlin’s Shakti, Minnie Ripperton, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Eddie Palmieri, with Mikail Baryshnikov and Heather Watts, Public Image Ltd., Peter Frampton, Pink Floyd, Earth Wind and Fire and Junior Wells, among many others. I also reviewed movies and books, produced “Jazz Chicago” radio shows for WBEZ-FM and the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and wrote for the Chicago Reader and Illinois Entertainer.

The Daily News, that renowned afternoon paper, closed in 1978, and I became associate editor of Down Beat (I remain a senior contributor). Since then I’ve worked for and published in Billboard, Guitar World, the Village Voice, Music & Sound Output, Ear, RhythmMusic, JazzizTower Pulse!, the New York Times Book Review, Signal to Noise and many more print and online journals. Radio-wise, I’ve produced the NPR-syndicated radio series “Improvisers Unlimited” and dozens of NPR Morning Edition arts pieces. I’ve consulted with the New School Jazz and Contemporary Music program, the Thelonious Monk Institute, the International Association for Jazz Education, Syracuse University’s Goldring Arts Journalism program, and with leaders of the coalition of arts journalists organizations that staged the first National Critics Conference in Los Angeles in May 2005.

From 1982 to 2006 I lived in Manhattan’s East Village, then spent 8 years in undiscovered Kensington (Brooklyn), most of the time maintaining an office in Greenwich Village. In summer 2014 I returned to Chicago (because I love the winters, and also affordable housing). I have many projects are in the works, including new seasons of the Jazz Journalists Association’s unique Jazz Matters webinar series (which is free to all attendees). My writing, personal appearances and status changes will be noted on this blog.

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