Frank Driggs: An Appreciation

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Jazz historian Frank Driggs died yesterday at age 81. Driggs not only had the world’s finest collection of jazz photographs, he is considered to be one of the foremost experts on Kansas City jazz.

His book Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — A History, written with Chuck Haddix of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Kansas City and its music.

I use this book all the time, and it’s valuable not only for its precise roll call of Kansas City’s musicians, but for it’s chronicle of the social and cultural forces that helped shape Kansas City music in the first half of the 20th century.

If you’re interested in learning more, read Griggs’ obituary in the New York Times, as well as this 2005 profile from Smithsonian.

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