Longtime JJA member
Paul Blair, writer, broadcaster, editor, guide — dies, 69
Sad news for jazzers and walkers, not only of New York City: writer, editor, broadcaster and tour guide Paul Blair died suddenly on December 6. He suffered a heart attack while sitting on a park bench, a month short of his 70th birthday.
Paul has been editor of Hot House jazz magazine since 2003; in 2001 he founded SwingStreets, conducting walking tours of jazz-related sites throughout Manhattan and the other boroughs. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, he resided in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Earlier in his life, Paul taught English as a Peace Corp volunteer in Malawi, Africa, worked as a freelance journalist in Indonesia for a decade (during which he met his wife, Yessy), and hosted a daily radio broadcast for Voice of America. His writing appeared in more than two dozen publications; his specialties and enthusiasms included music in general, food and Americana, but most specifically jazz and New York City.
A member of the Jazz Journalists Association for more than 15 years, Paul was a contributor to Jazz Notes, the JJA’s quarterly journal during the 1990s. A licensed New York City tour guide, he conducted an international coterie of jazz critics, scholars, journalists and advocates through a SwingStreets tour of Harlem in October 2007, in conjunction with the “Jazz in the Global Imagination” conference, produced by the Center for Jazz Studies, Columbia University with the JJA.
Paul Blair is survived by his mother, his wife Yessy, two children from a previous marriage and three grandchildren. I knew him personally as a very nice, smart, well-informed and self-effacing man, who will be missed by his friends and colleagues as well as his family.
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