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Real People/Real Stories – A Nonfiction Book Group: “Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld” by T.J. English. (WL)

August 15 @ 2:00 pm


Real People/Real Stories meets the third Thursday of each month to explore the best in nonfiction history, biography, science, nature, and the arts. This month’s title is Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld by T.J. English.

In the early 20th century, jazz music was being formulated by brilliant musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Joe “King” Oliver. However, this music was not mainstream, so it played primarily in vice area nightclubs controlled by gangsters. This book tells the fascinating story of the relationship between jazz and the underworld and how musicians were promoted and controlled by criminals such as Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano.

“Persuasive. … [A] nuanced account of how…the development of jazz was facilitated by some of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century.” — The Economist

“This brilliant and courageous book lays bare an underside of our great American classical music—jazz—we must reckon with. Don’t miss it!” — Dr. Cornel West

“With Dangerous Rhythms, T.J. English once again demonstrates that he is not only our premier chronicler of modern criminal organizations in the U.S.A, and beyond, but also a seductive storyteller, masterfully folding memorable anecdote after anecdote into this diligently researched account of the intersection of jazz and the mob over the last century.” — Richard Price, New York Times bestselling author of The Whites

“One of the best books on jazz history yet written.” — Ishmael Reed, author of Mumbo Jumbo

“T.J. English is arguably the most astute and versatile chronicler of 20th century American crime.” — Houston Press

“Adroitly chronicles jazz music’s iron-clad, often-unspoken ties to the mob.” — Library Journal


Stryker Center at the Williamsburg Regional Library
412 N. Boundary Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185 United States
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