Giants of Jazz

A beautifully illustrated edition of Studs Terkel’s timeless portraits of America’s jazz legends, for readers of all ages

“A lovely holiday gift for both aficionados and newcomers to jazz . . . from the maestro of the tape recorder.” —Chicago Sun-Times

Studs Terkel’s first book, Giants of Jazz, is the master interviewer’s unique tribute to America’s jazz greats,

The thirteen profiles in this “luminous” (Jazzwise) collection weave together stories of the individual jazz musicians’ lives with the history of the jazz era, and the music’s evolution from the speakeasies of New York to the concert halls of the world’s greatest cities. Terkel—a lifelong fan and friend of many of these legends—uses firsthand interviews with artists such as Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker to tell the human stories behind the giants who shaped this uniquely American music form. Some of the many fascinating details Terkel relates include Joe Oliver’s favorite meal, Fats Waller’s 1932 rendezvous in Paris with eminent organist Marcel Dupré, Dizzy Gillespie’s childhood trip to a pawnshop to buy his first horn, and the origin of Billie Holiday’s nickname.


“A brilliant, easy read . . . as a jazz primer it would be impossible to surpass.”
“An ideal introduction [to jazz] for the young reader.”
The Texas Observer
“Marvelous and moving. . . . This book is like a great jazz solo, but instead of using a sax and notes, Terkel uses a pen and words.”
Chicago Tribune
“Who better to fashion these thirteen profiles of jazz greats than Studs Terkel?”
The Dallas Morning News

News and Reviews

In March 1970, Maya Angelou sat down with Studs Terkel for a radio interview about her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Books by Studs Terkel

“The Good War”
An Oral History of World War II

Studs Terkel

And They All Sang
Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey

Studs Terkel

The Studs Terkel Reader
My American Century

Studs Terkel

Hard Times
An Illustrated Oral History of the Great Depression

Studs Terkel

Goodreads Reviews