Michael Verity is a writer, photographer, musician and producer who has been actively involved in the jazz scene since the 1970's.
Michael is a regular contributor to Jazz History Online. Prior to becoming a writer, Michael was a disc jockey in upstate New York, where he hosted jazz programs on a number of radio stations. He's currently developing a new jazz radio program for distribution via Public Radio Exchange.
Michael also writes about other genres for magazines like Relix, American Songwriter and Blurt and online publications like The Bluegrass Situation and Country Standard Time. His photographs have appeared in Blues Revue and on Jambands.com and his radio productions have been carried on CBS Radio and New Folk Radio.
He lives in the Portland, OR area with his wife, camera, two cats, three kids, four dogs and several thousand albums that never seem to fall into alphabetical order.
Michael studied percussion at Syracuse where he graduated with a degree in Music Theory and a minor in 20th Century Music History.
I first learned about jazz from my family. My Dad was a huge fan of Dixieland and the Big Bands, with a particularly strong affection for Goodman, Dorsey, Basie and Ellington. He once explained to me that if I "knew Ellington then I knew jazz."
My piano playing older brother, who is 13 years my senior, introduced me to Ramsey Lewis and Ahmad Jamal while my older sister taught me about jazz rock artists like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chase and Maynard Ferguson. When I was in high school, I had regular listening sessions with my friends where we mixed Herbie Hancock's Headhunters with The Rolling Stones' Some Girls and Weather Report's Heavy Weather.
Today, I still mix jazz with every other genre on the planet, perfectly happy to hear Benny Goodman's "Air Mail Special" backed with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "I Know A Little." (Try it. I think you'll like it.)
What's cool about jazz—the reason why it matters so much to me—is that it's an ever-evolving musical form that has always cut across all cultural boundaries. It's a music that inspires thought for and touches the heart of all people, regardless of race, language or background.