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Ashley Kahn

Ashley Kahn is an American music historian, journalist, and producer, as well as a regular commentator on Morning Edition.

Kahn has had different jobs related to music in his career: from deejay to video producer and freelance writer, from road manager to concert producer and TV music editor for VH1. As a road manager, he has toured with jazz musicians including Henry Threadgill, Cassandra Wilson, and Greg Osby; with African artists including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekela, and Lucky Dube; with rock artists including Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel; and with pop stars including Britney Spears.

His most critically acclaimed books have been on two major jazz albums, Kind of Blue from Miles Davis and A Love Supreme from John Coltrane. Apart from his books, his contributions as a journalist have appeared in the New York Times, Downbeat, Jazz Times and Rolling Stone in the USA; Mojo and New Statesman in the UK; GQ in Japan, and many others.

  • A new book chronicles the history of Malaco Records, one of the oldest continuously run independent record labels in America and one of the biggest gospel labels in the world.
  • The star has just released The Very Best of Mick Jagger, the first overview of his many solo projects since 1970. He recently discussed the CD, the current state of the music scene and what’s different about working without the Stones.
  • The Staples Singers used to perform at Civil Rights rallies, but never recorded those songs. Mavis Staples has finally put much of that music on her new album, We'll Never Turn Back.
  • Songwriting genius Billy Strayhorn is the subject of a new documentary, as well as a fine companion CD. Both are titled Lush Life, after Strayhorn's enduring composition.
  • When Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980, it left fans dazed and confused. For Robert Plant, it created the challenge of going solo after being so closely identified with one of rock's biggest acts.
  • A new book argues that Motown was a step in the evolution of the American popular song, a tradition reaching back to songwriters like Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.
  • It's not easy living on the avant-garde edge of any art, let alone the always-changing world of jazz. But for nearly 50 years, the sound of Ornette Coleman has proven to be one of the most unorthodox — and most influential — in modern jazz.
  • Today is the 85th birthday of jazz drummer and legendary bandleader Chico Hamilton. He has spent seventy years behind the drum kit, performing in a wide variety of styles and jazz flavors: from big band and R&B, to funky and experimental.
  • The late 1960s were the golden age of Soul music. In studios located in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn., legends like Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge and Otis Redding were recording songs that proved timeless. And many of them were made with Dan Penn.
  • Long before Louis Armstrong came along, the trumpet and New Orleans were intertwined. For local jazz legend Nicholas Payton, the instrument represents the essence of the Crescent City.