Gary Carner Biography   (home)  



















  He recommended me for my first book, Jazz Performers, and he recommended me to Martin Williams at the Smithsonian, from whom I received a contract for my Pepper Adams work, that was supposed to kick off a new jazz series,” said Carner.

At Tufts, Carner did his second thesis on Pepper Adams, as well as articles for scholarly publications. “It was a busy time, to say the least,” Carner remembered. “Besides all the work, I also had my own 4-hour, Sunday jazz radio program, but I got out to hear some terrific jazz too, because this was a great time in Boston’s jazz history.” There were lots of clubs in the ’80s: The 1369 Club, the Willow, and the Regattabar had opened in nearby Harvard Square. Nearly every weekend, Carner headed down to the Regattabar to interview a musician about Pepper Adams, or to conduct a phone interview from home. It was thrilling to hang out with heroes, such as Tommy Flanagan, who Carner got to know rather well, or to spend time with George Mraz, John Hicks, Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, and so many other legendary players. Researching Pepper Adams gave Carner entree into the inner sanctum of jazz, because Adams was universally admired as both a person and a musician. Moreover, everyone knew Carner’s heart was in the right place, because he was writing about a great musician that never received the acclaim he deserved, and the work was a labor of love, not motivated by money. During this period Carner also started teaching jazz history, most notably at Assumption College in Worcester. He was appointed Jazz Historian of the Worcester Jazz Society and he also organized a symposium at Assumption on the music of Billy Strayhorn.

After the birth of his daughter, in 1991 Carner moved his family back to New Jersey, where he started doing a series of sales jobs while adjunct teaching jazz history at Mannes College, and, later, at the New School. He continued to research Pepper’s life and work, though he withdrew his contract from the Smithsonian after Martin Williams’ death. Originally an appendix for the biography, the Adams discography alone had become a book by itself, especially once transcribed interview material with leading jazz musicians--material too nuanced to be included in a full-length biography--was added.   (home)