Feather, one of the world's most prominent jazz critics died of pneumonia, yesterday at the age of 80. He grew up in England and moved to America in 1940. His most important writing was his encylopedia of jazz, an essential reference work of musician bios. Feather spent his final months editing a new edition, which is scheduled for publication next year. Feather also produced about 200 recording sessions, composed for many of the musicians he worked with, and even played piano on some of their sessions.
Rock critic Jimmy Guterman and editor Owen O'Donnell have a new book called "The Worst Rock 'n' Roll Records of All Time." Many of their selections are recordings made by some of the most popular artists, including the Doors, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, and the Moody Blues.
Village Voice rock critic Robert Christgau has a new guide to the best records of the 80s. He's also a fan of African music and rap, both of which he sees having a strong influence on new American music.
Critic and composer Gunther Schuller's new book, The Swing Era, examines the history of big band music. Though he is already a jazz enthusiast, Schuller says he researched his book as if he had no prior knowledge of the genre, hoping to craft a more comprehensive and objective account of that its development.
Terry Gross interviews Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead. He's worked as a rock and restaurant critic. He believes he distinguishes himself by actively featuring artists outside the insular New York jazz scene. Whitehead is also a former seminarian, and a bassist who plays free improvised music.
Simon Frith is a rock critic and sociologist. He believes the genre has been emptied of its rebellious spirit, and is often sanitized or commercialized by the corporations that distribute it. Yet recent developments in rock have some benefits: its globlalization has allowed for the participation of lesser known, international artists; music videos have the untapped potential for further artistic expression.
Rock Critic Ken Tucker. It's another in the continuing series of interviews with Fresh Air's contributors. Ken tells us how a frustrated college poet found himself in crowded clubs listening to punk bands and being paid for it.
Martin Williams, producer of the new six-record set for the Smithsonian Jazz Collection featuring singers and soloists from the Swing era. The set includes performances by Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Hodges.