Publications

This page focuses primarily on Porter's books. He has also written numerous articles, liner notes and reviews. Lists are available from him on request.

John Coltrane: His Life and Music
John Coltrane was a key figure in jazz, a pioneer in world music, and an intensely emotional force whose following continues to grow. This new biography, the first by a professional jazz scholar and performer, presents a huge amount of never-before-published material, including interviews with Coltrane, photos, genealogical documents, and innovative musical analysis that offers a fresh view of Coltrane's genius.

Compiled from scratch with the assistance of dozens of Coltrane's colleagues, friends, and family, John Coltrane: His Life and Music corrects numerous errors from previous biographies. The significant people in Coltrane's life were reinterviewed, yielding new insights; some were interviewed for the first time ever.

The musical analysis, which is accessible to the nonspecialist, makes its own revelations for example, that some of Coltrane's well-known pieces are based on previously unrecognized sources. The Appendix is the most detailed chronology of Coltrane's performing career compiled up to that time. It is updated and greatly expanded in The John Coltrane Reference.

Coltrane has become a musical inspiration for thousands of fans and musicians and a personal inspiration to as many more. For all of these, Porter's book will become the definitive resource--a reliable guide to the events of Coltrane's life and an insightful look into his musical practices. Order now!

John Coltrane: His Life and Music

The John Coltrane Reference
Few jazz musicians have had the lasting influence or attracted as much scholarly study as John Coltrane. Yet, despite dozens of books, hundreds of articles, and his own recorded legacy, the "facts" about Coltrane's life and work have never been definitely established. Well-known Coltrane biographer and jazz educator Lewis Porter has assembled an international team of scholars to write The John Coltrane Reference, an indispensable guide to the life and music of John Coltrane.

The John Coltrane Reference features a a day-by-day chronology, which extends from 1926-1967, detailing Coltrane's early years and every live performance given by Coltrane as either a sideman or leader, and a discography offering full session information from the first year of recordings, 1946, to the last, 1967. The appendices list every film and television appearance, as well as every recorded interview. Richly illustrated with over 250 album covers and photos from the collection of Yasuhiro Fujioka, The John Coltrane Reference will find a place in every major library supporting a jazz studies program, as well as John Coltrane enthusiasts. Order now!

The John Coltrane Reference
Lester Young

Lester Young
Several new biographies of Lester Young have been published in the years since Lewis Porter's Lester Young first appeared, but none have supplanted or even attempted the in-depth study that Porter brings to his subject's music. With the same care and scholarship that characterized his John Coltrane, Porter analyzes the music that made Lester Young "the most original tenor sax in jazz."

In addition to helping us understand Lester Young's playing and stylistic evolution, Porter's analysis demonstrates that Young's playing at the end of his career did not mark a serious decline over his earlier style, as many critics have claimed. Order now!

Jazz: A Century of Change

Jazz: A Century of Change
Through primary documents, jazz historian Lewis Porter introduces the major topics in the history of jazz. Interviews, articles, and other writings explore the key issues in jazz over the past hundred years, including the struggle to define "jazz" and to locate its origins; race politics in the 1950s and 1960s; and the more recent debates over Traditionalism and Revivalism.

Mike Heffley writes that this is "a peach of a book, especially for scholars looking for a little more focus and substance on timely historical research and analytical methodology." Stephen Kelly writes that it is "a fine collection of interesting readings, with commentary by an intelligent, reasoned, and openminded guide." Order now!

A Lester Young Reader
From Library Journal: A wide-ranging, well-edited, and annotated collection of thirty-six articles and interviews make up this collection devoted to tenor saxophonist Young, one of the most important jazz performers of the 1930s through the 1950s.

Editor Porter, himself an expert on Young, divides the articles into biographical essays, interviews with the saxophonist, and performance style analyses. The breadth of this volume should make it useful to the jazz fan or general reader. Essential to any music library and certainly a useful volume for general collections.Order now!

A Lester Young Reader

Jazz: From Its Origins to the Present
This history text, 600pp. with music examples, has been used at Columbia, Harvard, Brown, William and Mary, Williams, U. of Oregon, U. of North Texas, universities in Germany, Italy, and elsewhere. It has often been used in classes for non-majors, simply by omitting discussion of the notated music. According to Down Beat, "This is the one to buy."Order now!

Jazz: From Its Origins to the Present

Jazz Perspectives
Dr. Porter is also founder and formerly co-editor with Professor John Howland of the peer-reviewed journal, Jazz Perspectives, which began publication early in 2007 and quickly became one of the leading journals in the jazz field.

From 2002-2010 Dr. Porter was editor for a series of books called Jazz Perspectives through the University of Michigan Press.

Dr. Porter has also completed a jazz encyclopedia which has been published at Jazz.com.