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Jazz's sordid, spectacular history with the mob

Louis Armstrong's manager, Joe Glaser, was a known mobster who came up through the Capone organization.
Louis Armstrong's manager, Joe Glaser, was a known mobster who came up through the Capone organization.

A new book by author T.J. English, who’s made a career writing about organized crime, examines the close relationship between jazz and the mob.

Featuring characters like Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Al Capone, “Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld” traces the popularity of the genre through the 20th century and how gangsters helped the genre flourish.

English spoke to The New York Post:

“Black people had less to fear from a Mafiosa boss than a white police officer … They saw the mob as their protection in the commercial marketplace.”

We sit down with English to talk about jazz music and the mob’s shared sordid and spectacular history.

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Avery Kleinman