April 10, 1918-April 30, 2000
History of Jazz in America 
From The Handbook
of Jazz 
established a reputation as a scholar, writer and translator in several
fields, including literature, visual arts, religion and psychology. He
taught at Princeton
University (1951-53) and Barnard College (1953-88) and was active in the
Church following his conversion to Catholicism in 1951. He wrote
many books on religion and psychology, often in collaboration with his
second wife, Ann Belford Ulanov, a professor at Union Theological
Seminary in Manhattan, where he also taught a course until 1999.
To jazz fans, however,
he was best known as the author of some of the earliest serious studies
of the music, and was a high-profile champion of the modernists in the
internecine battles of the bebop era. He began to write about jazz
while in college, and became the editor of Metronome in 1939.
Ulanov radically reshaped the editorial policy, introducing coverage of
black jazz musicians, and supporting the radical new developments of
bebop as the decade progressed.
The emergence of bebop
precipitated one of the schismatic splits which sprinkle jazz history,
with the supporters of the new music on the one hand, and the
traditionalist lobby on the other. In one famous episode in 1947,
Ulanov organised a battle of the bands on radio, with his own
hand-picked selection of bebop players led by Charlie Parker and Dizzy
Gillespie going up against the resident band from Rudi Blesh’s This
Is Jazz show.
pioneering studies of Duke Ellington and Bing Crosby in the 1940s and
both a history and a handbook of jazz in the 1950s, a decade in which he
continued to cover jazz for magazines like Down Beat and
Esquire, after which he concentrated on his academic interests.
The Scotsman (2000)
See the fuller sketch that
appeared in the
Barnard Campus News