Arts critic/jazz critic of the Chicago Tribune, where I cover jazz, gospel, blues, cabaret, world music and various cultural issues. I also write extended narrative stories on the arts.
I have been covering music and the arts for the Chicago Tribune since 1977 and joined the staff in 1983. I'm producer-writer-narrator of the feature documentary film "Prisoner of Her Past," which is currently touring the world and is being broadcast nationally on PBS. I've written several books: "Prisoner of Her Past" (Northwestern University Press, 2011); "Let Freedom Swing: Collected Writings on Jazz, Blues and Gospel" (Northwestern University Press, 2010); "The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich" (PublicAffairs, 2006); "Jelly's Blues" (with William Gaines, Da Capo, 2003); and "Van Cliburn" (Thomas Nelson, 1993). I've won two Deems Taylor Awards from ASCAP (2002 and 1999); the Alumni Merit Award from Northwestern University's Alumni Association (2007); seven Peter Lisagor Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (2010, 2008, 2005, 2003, two in 1999 and 1998); three Jones-Beck Awards from the Chicago Tribune (2001, 1999 and 1990); and the Excellence in Journalism Award from the Chicago Association of Black Journalists (1996). I was named Chicago Journalist of the Year (2011) by the Chicago Journalists Association, which also has presented me with two Sarah Brown Boyden Awards (2010 and 2004). I'm married to Pam Becker, an editor at the Tribune.
Listening to music and traveling the world. My assignments have taken me to many of the world's cultural capitals, including Havana, Moscow, London, Paris, Vienna, Munich, Warsaw, Prague, Montreal and Panama City.