Skip to main content

Musical criticism




Jazz Critic Martin Williams.

Martin Williams is a jazz critic, writer, and academic. He currently works at the Smithsonian Institution. He discusses jazz criticism and the effect jazz has had on classical music. He also shares some of his favorite records.


Rock Critic Lester Bangs

The music writer sees a populist potential in rock music. If anyone can pick up a guitar, he claims, then anyone can make something full of emotion, regardless of their technical abilities. He recently published a book about the band Blondie.


Jazz Critic Gary Giddins

The Village Voice writer has a new anthology of his music writing called Riding on a Blue Note. His tastes have expanded from jazz to pop vocals, including Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Giddins also finds much to love about contemporary European and avant-garde jazz.


John Rockwell and "All American Music."

John Rockwell is the music critic for The New York Times. He believes critics should take (almost) all genres of music equally, and was one the first critics to cover "vernacular music." Rockwell has written the book "All American Music." Rockwell discusses his taste in music (including his beginnings in classical music), journalism, and shares records with Fresh Air.


A Rock Critic on The Who

By focusing on one legendary band, Dave Marsh's new book explores how the public personas of rock bands are cultivated, and how these affect the personal lives of working musicians.


Jazz Legend, Billy Taylor.

Jazz legend BILLY TAYLOR is a pianist who has worked with his own trio as well as musicians such as Billie Holliday, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Charlie Mingus, Art Tatum, and Miles Davis. Taylor is also a composer whose song "I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free" became a civil rights anthem. Taylor is also known for being the guiding force between the public radio programs "Jazz Alive" and "Billy Taylor's Piano Jazz." Currently, Taylor is the editor for the arts on the CBS Sunday morning program.


Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor"

An anthology of the self-published comic book series has just been released by Doubleday. Pekar's joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about writing, jazz criticism, and the changing landscape of comic books.


Marian McPartland's Career in Jazz.

Jazz pianist Marian McPartland. Though British-born, white and a woman, McPartland has had a forty-year career in a profession that is largely male and black. She is heard on many National Public Radio stations in her popular series with leading jazz artists.


Did you know you can create a shareable playlist?


There are more than 22,000 Fresh Air segments.

Let us help you find exactly what you want to hear.
Just play me something
Your Queue

Would you like to make a playlist based on your queue?

Generate & Share View/Edit Your Queue