Log in

AUTHOR | TJ English


Thomas Joseph (“TJ”) English comes from a large Irish Catholic family of 10 brothers and sisters. Early in his career, English worked as a freelance journalist in the day and drove a cab at night. He often refers to cab driving as a metaphor for what he does as a writer - cruising the streets, interviewing strangers, exploring the unknown, reporting on what he sees and hears from his sojourns in and around the underworld.

T.J. is known for his many non-fiction books about organized crime in the US and Cuba. He is big enough and tough enough to do first-hand street research on Irish, Italian, Vietnamese and Cuban mob and drug figures. He is an engaging tough-guy speaker whose fascination with crime is equal to his appreciation of jazz.

Watch "A History of Jazz and the Mob"

Online resources:


Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld by TJ English

Dangerous Rhythms is the true story of Jazz and the important historic relationship between Jazz Musicians and the American Mob. It is the inside story told in brisk prose - paced about as fast as Jelly Roll Morton banged jazz on piano.

From the very early 1900’s, through Prohibition until the 40’s, jazz was written and performed mainly by African Americans in big cities like New Orleans, Chicago and New York. Quickly the rest of America came to appreciate these compelling new rhythms and the talented musicians who brought them to life. Sadly these same musicians were not safe from the Jim Crow attitudes that surrounded them so they sought protection from violence and unfair salaries. They found both in a mutually beneficial exchange with the Mob who sold illegal liquor, drugs and favors in big dance halls and bars. They needed entertainment to draw in crowds. Jazz became hot.

Louie Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald among many others combined talents with the likes of Al Capone, Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano to bring in paying customers in exchange for protection from the local police who were unpredictable and often violent. Even Frank Sinatra enjoyed the benefits the Mob could provide.

The book is beautifully researched and full of historic anecdotes that will enrich your appreciation of both the people who created jazz and the unlikely individuals who protected them.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software