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The History of Jazz in Columbus


On this week’s episode of Columbus Neighborhoods, we explore Columbus’ jazz scene on the Near East Side.

“The ’50s and ’60s, this was the period of time when Mount Vernon (Avenue) was just on fire – on fire because of all the great jazz musicians, as well as the R&B singers,” jazz enthusiast Bettye Stull recalls.

Listen to some of the songs featured in the segment on this playlist:

Though this week’s segment focuses on the 1950s and ’60s, Columbus’ relationship with jazz has even earlier roots. We found a story in the WOSU Public Media archives about our city’s early jazz and swing scenes, and dusted it off. From the 1993 WOSU TV special “An Evening with the Columbus Jazz Arts Group,” this archive piece includes an interview with musician Harlan “Raleigh” Randolph, whose son we interviewed for this week’s show.


Today, jazz lives on in Columbus. When the city celebrated its bicentennial in 2012, BalletMet, Columbus Jazz Orchestra and WOSU teamed up for a special performance series called Jazz Moves Columbus. WOSU chronicled the creation of the series in this documentary:


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