A lifelong photojournalist, first at The Times-Picayune and then at The Advocate, John McCusker has documented the people and places that gave New Orleans one of its many nicknames – The Cradle of Jazz — throughout his career. He started offering the Cradle of Jazz tour in the 1990s, re-branding it as the New Orleans Jazz History Tour in 2012. The intimate, guided tour combines a jazz lover’s appreciation of the art and a journalist’s devotion to the facts.
John continues to dig for players and insights that add to our understanding of the city’s early jazz scene, which developed along South Rampart Streets and other pockets of New Orleans that he shares on the New Orleans Jazz History Tour. His own history in Louisiana extends to the Spanish colonial period. His grandmother and father were both born in Treme and attended St. Augustine Church. Flooded out by Hurricane Katrina, his family rebuilt and returned to their Gentilly neighborhood in 2008.
John, a New Orleans native, spent nearly 30 years as a staff photographer for The Times-Picayune. He was part of the team that shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its immediate aftermath. He began working for The Advocate when it opened its New Orleans operation in 2012 and in 2013 was named photo editor for the growing bureau.
The University Press of Mississippi published his first book, Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz, in October 2012 to significant critical acclaim. John’s research for the biography of Edward “Kid” Ory, an oft-overlooked early bandleader and musician, produced the first definitive work on this true jazz pioneer. Creole Trombone is part of the imprint’s American Made Music Series.
John McCusker is a passionate authority on early jazz and how New Orleans’ musicians shaped this uniquely American art form. He is at work on his second non-fiction book on New Orleans music history .