Kevin Whitehead has an M.A. in American Literature and Culture from Syracuse University, and a B.A. in English from SUNY Oswego. He has been writing about jazz for over thirty years.
Whitehead is the author of Why Jazz? A Concise Guide (Oxford University Press, 2010), New Dutch Swing (Billboard Books, 1998), a history of improvised music in Amsterdam, and, with photographer Ton Mijs, Instant Composers Pool Orchestra: You Have to See It (Rotterdam: Mijs, 2011). He has been the jazz critic for NPR’s daily show “Fresh Air” since 1987, is a monthly columnist for eMusic.com, and a contributor to Point of Departure and Down Beat.
He has written about jazz for many publications, including the Chicago Reader and Sun-Times, the Baltimore Sun and Baltimore City Paper, New York’s Village Voice, and the Dutch daily deVolkskrant. His essays have appeared in such collections as: Discover Jazz; Traveling the Spaceways: Sun Ra, the Astro-Black and Other Solar Myths; Mixtery: A Festschrift for Anthony Braxton; Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006; and The Cartoon Music Book. He was an editorial consultant to Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology (2011), and editorial advisor and contributor to New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (London: Macmillan, 2001).
As an improvising musician, Whitehead has performed at New York’s Knitting Factory, Chicago’s Empty Bottle and HotHouse, and Amsterdam’s Zaal 100. Previously he has taught at the University of Kansas and Goucher College and teaches Jazz History at Towson.