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Nat Hentoff, Roxbury native, Boston Latin graduate, writer, jazz critic, dies at 91

Hentoff's son, Nick, reports he died today, "surrounded by family, listening to Billie Holiday."

Hentoff, born on Howland Street, wrote about his early years growing up Jewish in a city then full of antisemites - and learning to love jazz - in Boston Boy.

He.started as a journalist at the old Boston City Record, where he investigated antisemitic hate groups. He later moved to WMEX, where he did sports announcing, even as he devoted more and more time to jazz, becoming a well known jazz critic.

He later moved to New York, and become a columnist at the Village Voice, where he specialized in free-speech and other civil-liberties issues.

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Comments

Hentoff's memoir "Boston Boy" is well worth a read. It describes a poor, insular, ethnically-divided city that nonetheless had institutions, like Boston Latin and the Boston Public Library, which provided a way for the newest Americans to get ahead.

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Back when there were albums with lots of paper space, he wrote the best liner notes too. I have Mingus' The Clown on my desk as a great example. He was insightful and knowledgeable.

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I followed his columns in the Village Voice for years. 'Always appreciated his knowledge, literacy and opinions, even if I disagreed with some of them. Also enjoyed his Boston perspective and reflections. R.I. P.

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Dan Kennedy posts an article based on an interview with Hentoff in 1996.

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