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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.

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Avery Kleinman