Ira Gitler has been professionally involved with jazz since 1951, when he wrote the notes for a Zoot Sims LP recorded by the Prestige label. From that time, he has annotated countless albums for all the major labels and most of the important independents, internationally, into the CD era. He was the New York editor of Down Beat magazine, 1963–4 and 1967–70. As a freelance writer he has written for Metronome, Down Beat*, JazzTimes* (USA), Swing Journal* (Japan), Musica Jazz (Italy) and Jazz Magazine (France), as well as the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, Vibe, and New York Magazine.
He wrote a weekly column for Jazz Central Station (a division of N2K) on the World Internet; contributed to its successor, CD Now; and to the Knit Media’s Web site.
He taught jazz history at City College in the early and mid-’70s and the New School (1986–94) and has been a faculty member at Manhattan School of Music since 1992.
His books include Jazz Masters of the Forties (Macmillan), reissued in a revised edition as The Masters of Bebop (Da Capo); and the oral history Swing To Bop, written as a Guggenheim Fellow (Oxford University Press). He also coauthored The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies (Horizon Press) and The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz (Oxford), both with Leonard Feather.
Mr. Gitler produced recordings with Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk, Tadd Dameron, Art Farmer, Billy Taylor, Teddy Charles, Charlie Mariano, King Pleasure, and Jimmy Raney/Stan Getz for the Prestige label in the 1950s. He produced concerts, also acting as master of ceremonies, for what in now known as the JVC-NY Jazz Festival in the ’80s and ’90s, including tributes to Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Django Reinhardt, Bud Powell, and Art Blakey. For JVC-NY 2003 he produced and emceed A Tribute to the Royal Roost at Birdland.
He is considered to be one of the foremost jazz authorities in the world and has covered jazz events in Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Russia, Ireland, Japan, India, Cuba, Morocco, Senegal, and Guadeloupe. As a broadcaster he has been heard on WNCN, WBAI (both in New York City in the ’60s); and KADX (Colorado in the ’80s). His Reminiscing in Tempo was heard on Sirius Satellite Radio in the new millennium.
In 2001, he served as master of ceremonies for two concerts featuring the music of Benny Golson for Jazz at Lincoln Center and conducted a public interview session with Mr. Golson at the Kaplan Penthouse during the week of the concerts.
He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey Jazz Society in 2001, and one from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2002.
*current magazine affiliations