Artist Details

Norman Granz

At the height of his career, Norman Granz was one of the most powerful non-musicians in jazz. He always fought for the music he believed in (having a love for freewheeling jam sessions), for his artists (whom he accurately considered to be among the greatest in the world), and against racism, forcing many hotels and concert venues to become integrated in the 1940s and '50s. He studied at UCLA, served in the Army, and then, in 1944, began to make an impact on jazz. Granz supervised the award-winning film short Jammin' the Blues (which featured Lester Young) and put on a concert at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles that he dubbed Jazz at the Philharmonic. The latter was such a big success that soon Granz was able to take the all-star jam sessions on domestic and eventually world-wide tours. The producer loved to team together top artists from the bop and swing worlds in "battles" and, although these rousing concerts were often criticized by conservative and somewhat humorless jazz critics, the jams resulted in a great deal of rewarding music. Not content with merely presenting concerts, Granz often recorded the performances even though, at 10-15 minutes, they were too long for a conventional three-minute 78. Granz founded Clef (1946) and Norgran (1953), eventually consolidating his music when he founded Verve in 1956. The rise of the LP in the early '50s was perfect timing, and Granz was able to release many JATP performances on records.