The Musicians

Albert Murray, Writer And Co-Founder Of Jazz At Lincoln Center, Dies

Writer, historian and critic Albert Murray in New York City in 2000. i i

hide captionWriter, historian and critic Albert Murray in New York City in 2000.

Chris Felver/Getty Images
Writer, historian and critic Albert Murray in New York City in 2000.

Writer, historian and critic Albert Murray in New York City in 2000.

Chris Felver/Getty Images

Albert Murray, the influential writer and critic who helped found Jazz at Lincoln Center, died Sunday at home in Harlem. He was 97 years old. Duke Ellington once described him as the "unsquarest person I know."

For Murray, jazz and blues were more than just musical forms. They were a survival technique — an improvisatory response to hardship and uncertainty, as he told NPR in 1997: "You don't know how many bars you have, but however many of them you can make swing, the better off you are. That's about it."

Murray was born outside Mobile, Ala. He attended the Tuskegee Institute, where he became friends with Ralph Ellison, author of the Invisible Man.

Murray's writing career didn't begin in earnest until 1970, with a provocative book of essays called The Omni-Americans, which argued that black culture and American culture are deeply intertwined. He went on to publish several novels and a memoir and co-wrote Count Basie's autobiography.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.