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Jazz Journalists Association - Zoom Jazz Book Party on Sunday, Jan 17, 3 pm ET


In an initiative to highlight music-writing standouts of the past year, the Jazz Journalists Association will host a JJA Zoom Jazz Book Party on Sunday, Jan 17, 3 pm ET, with five members whose books were published in 2020.


Karl Ackermann, Debbie Burke, Tish Oney, Ted Panken and Mark Ruffin will be talking about their subjects and experiences. JJA president Howard Mandel will moderate the discussion.


The 90-minute, interactive Zoom event is free to registrants, will be streamed to the JJA Facebook page and archived on the JJA Youtube channel.Presenting their books, processes and publishing experiences are:

  • Karl Ackermann, a senior writer for All About Jazz with a column, Under the Radar, published since 2016 and credits also in The New York Times and Chicago Jazz Magazine, is the author of A Map of Jazz: Crossroads of Music and Human Rights, an ambitious and broad-ranging history of jazz in parallel with world events.

  • Debbie Burke, four-time author, award-winning business journal editor, lifestyle editor and newspaper columnist based outside Atlanta has published Tasty Jazz Jams for Our Times, which she describes as turning a "warm and loving spotlight on jazz artists around the globe. . . tipped towards indie musicians from Sweden, Italy, Brazil, Israel, Hong Kong and Russia, but Americans such as Christian McBride, Andy Snitzer, Jane Ira Bloom and Bobby Sanabria, too."

  • Ted Panken, contributor to DownBeat, Jazziz, and Jazz Times, programmed jazz and creative music for 23 years on New York City's WKCR-FM and prodigious interviewer (see postings on his blog Today Is The Question) is the co-author of Life in E-flat - The Autobiography of Phil Woods. The candid memoir of the great alto saxophonist, a legitimate heir and expander of Charlie Parker's legacy, is one of the first two titles published by Cymbal Press, an enterprise of JJA member Gary S. Stager (the other is Jazz Dialogues by saxophonist Jon Gordon).

  • Tish Oney, a composer-arranger, conductor, vocalist, musicologist and master teacher, has written Peggy Lee: A Century of Song on the evolution of the artistic contributions of an iconic American musician with 50-plus albums, radio and TV performances, creative contributions to the film industry and decades of finely-polished live performance to her credit. Oney draws on interviews with Lee’s family, friends, and music colleagues.

  • Mark Ruffin is the daily, nation-wide voice of jazz for Sirius XM Satellite Radio. A native of Chicago's West Side, former Chicago magazine jazz editor and a two-time Emmy award winner for broadcasting long based in New York City, Ruffin spins fictions about Gene Ammons and Bob Fosse, Lee Morgan and the Philadelphia Phillies, hate and transcendence in Bebop Fairy Tales: A Historical Fiction Trilogy on Jazz, Intolerance, and Baseball).


The JJA, a non-profit professional organization of writers, photographers, broadcasters, videographers, new media professionals and their supporters, has presented a Jazz Award for Best Book of the Year About Jazz annually since 1998.

Recent winners include Jazz from Detroit by Mark Stryker, Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon by Maxine Gordon, Good Things Happen Slowly by Fred Hersch, and Better Git It In Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus by Krin Gabbard.


Bob Blumenthal, Boston-based author and critic chairing the JJA nominating committee for the 2021 Book of the Year Award, will also speak briefly on the Zoom call. "Our committee members have been reading and discussing dozens of books," he says. "We've been impressed by the range of subjects and approaches and the overall quality of the works."