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New Book: “Ohio Jazz: A History of Jazz in the Buckeye State”

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by Mark Subel on June 25, 2012

There is a new book available documenting the rich jazz tradition and history here in Ohio called, “Ohio Jazz: A History of Jazz in the Buckeye State”. Most historians pass over Ohio when talking about jazz history compared to New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, but Ohio has a rich past that has contributed to the jazz tradition. The authors of the new book: David Meyers, Candice Watkins, Arnett Howard and James Loeffler — all Ohioans with Columbus ties — attempt to give the state its due.

For thirty years, these authors have been researching and documenting the history of music, particularly jazz in Ohio. Their 1999 “Jazz Ohio!” exhibit at the Ohio Historical Society ran for twelve months before portions of it were moved to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The exhibit inspired this book, and much of what you will read here has never before been brought together in one place–and it may well change the way you think about jazz. And Ohio. The quartet has also helped produce other books and readings on jazz including: “Listen for the Jazz: Key Notes in Columbus History” (Arts Foundation of Olde Town, 1990-92) and “Columbus, The Musical Crossroads” (Arcadia, 2008)

Said Arnett Howard of the book..

“Ohio has all kinds of jazz history, like every state does,” Howard said. “But not every state has people willing to do the research and collect the information. We found a lot of photographs,” Howard said. “The collection was so big that we have a photograph on almost every page. We had 60 mini-bios of jazz musicians in Ohio,” he said. “Some were big names and some were not. But we had to leave some people out, and there were hurt feelings.” source

The 192-page book chronicles the growth of jazz in the region, as well as how some of Ohio’s most influential artists achieved fame. The book offers 60 brief biographies of artists with Ohio ties. Among them: tenor and alto saxophonist Royal G. “Rusty” Bryant, trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, instrumentalist Roland T. “Rahsaan Roland” Kirk and bandleader and singer Ted Lewis. (source)

“We’re not trying to say that Ohio invented jazz, but if you look at its evolution . . . those were Ohioans doing those things,” Meyers said. “Most of these musicians leave Ohio to make it big, so they’re associated with wherever they end up, but their roots are in Ohio.”

Buy the Book:

If you’re interested in buying the book or even just previewing the book, you can purchase or shop for “Ohio Jazz: A History of Jazz in the Buckeye State”, from Amazon.

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