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Leslie Gourse: 1939-2004
Leslie Gourse

Born: 1939 in Fall River, MA
Died: December 23, 2004 in New York, NY

Music critic, author and biographer

by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2004 Todd S. Jenkins

Leslie Gourse, author of a large number of musical biographies and histories, died of respiratory failure in New York City on December 23, 2004. She was 65 years old.

Although Gourse's name will indelibly be associated with jazz, the music she loved and wrote about for most of her career, she first came to prominence with an award-winning romance novel, With Gall and Honey: The Love Story of an American Girl in Israel. Her next book was on the then-contemporary jazz scene, and from that point on her love affair with jazz was set in stone. Among the subjects she wrote about were Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Nat Cole, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Wynton Marsalis, and women in jazz ("Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists", Oxford University Press).

Besides her jazz interests, Gourse also wrote books on Mahalia Jackson, Muppet creator Jim Henson, New York City walking tours, Pocahontas and salsa diva Gloria Estefan. She also penned several books for children and young adults, and contributed to the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Down Beat, JazzTimes, The Washington Post, and other publications. Her honors include the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award and the Columbia-Doubleday Award.

Leslie Gourse is survived by her mother, Zelda Gourse of Providence, Rhode Island.

Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.


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