The Jazz Session #380: Barry Kernfeld

Kernfeld on saxophone. (Photo: Pennsylvania Library Association)

Barry Kernfeld is the author of Pop Song Piracy: Disobedient Music Distribution since 1929 (University of Chicago Press, 2011); The Story of Fake Books: Bootlegging Songs to Musicians (Scarecrow, 2006); and What To Listen For In Jazz (Yale University Press, 1995). He may be most well known as the editor of both editions of the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, a massive undertaking that sought to define the major players, instruments and theories of jazz around the world. In this interview, Kernfeld talks about his early years in San Francisco during the height of the rock explosion; his move to Cornell in the 70s and the unexpectedly progressive atmosphere he found there; how he came to edit the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz and the response to its first edition; and his subsequent investigations of song piracy and fake books. Learn more at

Author: Jason Crane

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