Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld; T.J. English

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Dangerous Rhythms tells the symbiotic story of jazz and the underworld: a relationship fostered in some of 20th century America's most notorious vice districts. For the first half of the century mobsters and musicians enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership. By offering artists like Louis Armstrong, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald a stage, the mob, including major players Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, and Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, provided opportunities that would not otherwise have existed.

Even so, at the heart of this relationship was a festering racial inequity. The musicians were mostly African American, and the clubs and means of production were owned by white men. It was a glorified plantation system that, over time, would find itself out of tune with an emerging Civil Rights movement. Some artists, including Louis Armstrong, believed they were safer and more likely to be paid fairly if they worked in "protected" joints. Others believed that playing in venues outside mob rule would make it easier to have control over their careers.

Through English's voluminous research and keen narrative skills, Dangerous Rhythms reveals this deeply fascinating slice of American history in all its sordid glory.

August 2, 2022


About the Author

T.J. English's latest book is DANGEROUS RHYTHMS: JAZZ AND THE UNDERWORLD. English is an author and journalist with an emphasis on organized crime, the criminal underworld, and the criminal justice system. Many of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, including HAVANA NOCTURNE, THE SAVAGE CITY, PADDY WHACKED, and WHERE THE BODIES WERE BURIED. Four of his books have been nominated for an Edgar Award in the category of Best Fact Crime (BORN TO KILL, HAVANA NOCTURNE, THE SAVAGE CITY, WHERE THE BODIES WERE BURIED). In 2013, a collection of his journalism was published under the title WHITEY'S PAYBACK, an anthology that includes articles originally printed in Playboy, Newsweek, Esquire, The New York Times, and other national publications. He lives in New York City.


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