Mark Stryker celebrates Detroit’s profound influence on jazz from the mid-20th century through the present day.


Jazz from Detroit explores the city’s pivotal role in shaping the course of modern and contemporary jazz. With more than two dozen in-depth profiles of remarkable Detroit-bred musicians, complemented by a generous selection of photographs, Mark Stryker makes Detroit jazz come alive as he draws out significant connections between the players, eras, styles, and Detroit’s distinctive history.

Stryker’s story starts in the 1940s and ’50s, when the auto industry created a thriving black working and middle class in Detroit that supported a vibrant nightlife, and exceptional public school music programs and mentors in the community like pianist Barry Harris transformed the city into a jazz juggernaut. This golden age nurtured many legendary musicians—Hank, Thad, and Elvin Jones, Gerald Wilson, Milt Jackson, Yusef Lateef, Donald Byrd, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, and others. As the city’s fortunes change, Stryker turns his spotlight toward often overlooked but prescient musician-run cooperatives and self-determination groups of the 1960s and ’70s, such as the Strata Corporation and Tribe. In more recent decades, the city’s culture of mentorship, embodied by trumpeter and teacher Marcus Belgrave, ensured that Detroit continued to incubate world-class talent; Belgrave protégés like Geri Allen, Kenny Garrett, Robert Hurst, Regina Carter, Gerald Cleaver, and Karriem Riggins helped define contemporary jazz. The resilience of Detroit’s jazz tradition provides a powerful symbol of the city’s lasting cultural influence.

Stryker’s 21 years as an arts reporter and critic at the Detroit Free Press are evident in his vivid storytelling and insightful criticism. Jazz from Detroit will appeal to jazz aficionados, casual fans, and anyone interested in the vibrant and complex history of cultural life in Detroit.


Mark Stryker is an award-winning arts journalist and critic based in Detroit, Michigan, specializing in jazz, classical music, and visual art.

 “There is no other city like Detroit: the musicians, the vibe, the people. Thank you, Mark Stryker, for Jazz from Detroit.”
—Sonny Rollins

“No city has meant more to American musical culture than Detroit. In the bass register alone, Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, and James Jamerson provided the foundation for some of the greatest music of the 20th century, and we can continue to climb the entire frequency range to find the same deep and detailed descriptions of American life at its very best through the ideas and voices of iconic Detroit musicians. Deeply researched and expertly rendered, Mark Stryker’s Jazz from Detroit has provided a diligent and insightful window into every aspect of how Detroit came to be one of the major centers of modern American musical research. This is an important and highly entertaining document that will stand as a definitive testament to the musical culture of Detroit.”
—Pat Metheny

“With a smooth and deeply informed style Mark Stryker in Jazz from Detroit writes authoritatively about the city’s almost matchless contribution to the history of jazz. His profiles on some of the iconic figures in jazz are so insightfully drawn, so musical that you are tempted to stop reading and listen to their recordings.”
—Herb Boyd, author of Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination
Jazz from Detroit is a masterpiece—one of the most insightful books about this music ever written. Mark Stryker’s perceptive commentary will resonate with both aficionados and newcomers to jazz.”
—Ethan Iverson

"Building on his many years of covering the jazz scene in Detroit, Stryker (long-time journalist for the Detroit Free Press) has produced an important book about many of the luminaries of Motown. ... Highly recommended."

- K. R. Dietrich, emeritus, Ripon College

" This is one of the best jazz books on such a focused topic in quite a while."
-- ARSC Journal

- Robert Iannapollo

"Jazz from Detroit is full of anecdotes and witty stories that will put a smile on the reader's face. As a journalist with a vast experience covering jazz, Stryker uses his knowledge and relationships with esteemed musicians to inform his discussions. ...Jazz from Detroit will be entertaining to jazz aficionados and might encourage a younger generation of scholars and journalists to engage more thoroughly with living, modern-day musicians."
-Jazz and Culture

- Alexander Gagatsis

Winner: Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) 2020 Awards for Excellence Best Historical Research in Recorded Jazz: Certificate of Merit

- ARSC Award for Excellence Best Historical Research in Recorded Jazz

Winner: Jazz Journalists Association 2020 Jazz Award for Book of the Year About Jazz

- JJA Jazz Award for Book of the Year About Jazz

"Mark Stryker covered jazz and its people for the Detroit Free Press for decades. He uses his reporter's eye and critic's ear to chronicle the musicians from the city who made their mark on the world."


"In fluid, enthusiastic prose, Stryker details how those jazz musicians were also successful as classical artists and as Motown studio musicians. This astute music history will be a boon for jazz fans."
--Publishers Weekly

- Publisher's Weekly

"This is a really interesting book. Once you read it, you’re guaranteed to wind up chasing down dozens of records ... I’ve always known I should learn more about his deep catalog, I just never have until now. It’s a perfect summer project."
--Phil Freeman, Stereogum

- Stereogum

"Ask the question, where does jazz happen, and the likely answer will be New York (or New Orleans, for the historically minded). No one is going to mention Detroit, not even dedicated jazz fans. But take out a piece of paper and write down the names of great and notable jazz musicians, and time and again their personal and/or musical home town will turn out to be the Motor City. Skip the paper and pen and glance through the table of contents of Mark Stryker’s new book ... Detroit jazz has a fine tribute in this book."
--George Grella, Brooklyn Rail

- The Brooklyn Rail

Read: Mark Stryker quoted by The New York Times Link | 11/26/19 Listen: Mark Stryker interviewed by Leslie Keros about Jazz from Detroit on WDCB Jazz Link | 9/30/19
Read and Listen: Interview and Playlist on TIDAL Link | 8/31/19
Read: Mark Stryker interviewed about Jazz From Detroit on the Do the Math Link | 7/17/2019 Listen: Mark Stryker interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross Link | 7/16/19

Read: Review of Jazz from Detroit in Jazz and Culture Link | 2021
Read: Review of Jazz from Detroit in All About Jazz Link | 9/16/19
Read: Review of Jazz from Detroit in Ottawa Citizen Link | 8/31/19
Read: Review of Jazz from Detroit in Jazzwise Link | 8/23/19
Listen: Review of Jazz from Detroit in DownBeat Link | 7/23/19
Read: Review of Jazz From Detroit in Publishers Weekly Link | 7/11/2019 Read: Review of Jazz From Detroit on the Brooklyn Rail Link | 7/10/2019Read: Review of Jazz From Detroit in Jazziz Magazine Link | 7/3/2019
Read: Review of Jazz From Detroit in Step Tempest Link | 7/3/2019
Read: Review of Jazz From Detroit on Stereogum Link | 6/26/2019Read: Excerpt from Jazz From Detroit in Jazz Times Link | 7/1/2019Read: Excerpt from Jazz From Detroit in the Detroit Free Press Link | 6/30/2019Read: Excerpt of Elvin Jones Chapter in Modern Drummer Link | 6/11/2019