Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice

Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice

Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice

Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice


“Any book on my life would start with my basic philosophy of fighting racial prejudice. I loved jazz, and jazz was my way of doing that,” Norman Granz told Tad Hershorn during the final interviews given for this book. Granz, who died in 2001, was iconoclastic, independent, immensely influential, often thoroughly unpleasant—and one of jazz’s true giants. Granz played an essential part in bringing jazz to audiences around the world, defying racial and social prejudice as he did so, and demanding that African-American performers be treated equally everywhere they toured. In this definitive biography, Hershorn recounts Granz’s story: creator of the legendary jam session concerts known as Jazz at the Philharmonic; founder of the Verve record label; pioneer of live recordings and worldwide jazz concert tours; manager and recording producer for numerous stars, including Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson.


I have a boundless love for and enduring remembrance of Norman Granz. I grieve to this day because of his absence from all of us, and most importantly (and selfishly) from me.

Norman Granz represents a truly unbridled and honest love for jazz. The world benefited tremendously from his recordings and concerts. But Norman should be noted not only for his great contribution to the jazz world musically but also for his unbiased treatment of the players, regardless of their racial background. He sanctioned his musical belief in jazz by hiring the people whose playing he admired, regardless of their race.

One of my foremost memories of this man I so revere was his fearless presentation of what he believed to be true jazz. He mixed everything from Italy to Africa to Jerusalem to Canada. His musical legacy to the world is the unbiased truth with which he presented truly talented jazz players, some of whom would not have reached the top of the mountain without his belief and help. His integrity, personally and musically, never wavered. He remained true always to jazz and would never compromise in his presentation of the best. He presented musicians and made recordings knowing that even though they would never bring financial gain, they were important musically.

To this day I also don’t believe that Norman has been and is truly recognized for the great influence he had racially on people of that era. His dedication to and belief in equality caused him many moments of . . .

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