Skip Navigation
NPR News
Writer, historian and critic Albert Murray in New York City in 2000. (Getty Images)

Albert Murray, Writer And Co-Founder Of Jazz At Lincoln Center, Dies

Aug 19, 2013

Share this

Explore this

Reported by

Joel Rose

Albert Murray, the influential writer and critic who helped found Jazz at Lincoln Center, died Sunday at home in Harlem. He was 97 years old. Duke Ellington once described him as the "unsquarest person I know."

For Murray, jazz and blues were more than just musical forms. They were a survival technique — an improvisatory response to hardship and uncertainty, as he told NPR in 1997: "You don't know how many bars you have, but however many of them you can make swing, the better off you are. That's about it."

Murray was born outside Mobile, Ala. He attended the Tuskegee Institute, where he became friends with Ralph Ellison, author of the Invisible Man.

Murray's writing career didn't begin in earnest until 1970, with a provocative book of essays called The Omni-Americans, which argued that black culture and American culture are deeply intertwined. He went on to publish several novels and a memoir and co-wrote Count Basie's autobiography.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

Visitor comments


NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.