Remembering Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff — the wide-ranging, free-thinking, controversial and passionate author, columnist, jazz critic and social bomb-thrower who died yesterday at age 91 — had a strong Westport connection.

Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

A Boston native long associated with New York City — the AP describes him as “a bearded, scholarly figure, a kind of secular rabbi, as likely to write a column about fiddler Bob Wills as a dissection of the Patriot Act, to have his name appear in the liberal Village Voice as the far-right, where his column last appeared in August 2016,” and whose friends included Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Malcolm X and I.F. Stone — he had a Westport home for many years.

Hentoff appeared several times at the Westport Library, as a speaker. There he provoked local audiences, just as he did readers worldwide.

Once, in a talk on censorship — which he vehemently opposed — he startled the attendees by advocating firmly for the anti-abortion side of that volatile topic.

Hentoff’s sister, the poet Janet Krauss, was also a longtime Westport resident.

(Hat tip: Maxine Bleiweis)

4 responses to “Remembering Nat Hentoff

  1. Seth Goltzer

    I had the pleasure of driving Mr. Hentoff and his family several times , to and from the local Airports. Could not have been nicer. A sad loss but a well lived , long life.

  2. Roger Kaufman

    Always looked forward to his sage and interesting reviews…never knowing about his local connects. it surprises me…as neither Don Elliot nor John Mehegan ever mentioned his name to me in that context.
    We will miss Nat Hentoff’s scholarly and relevant points of view….one of the great critical music voices of our generation.

  3. Nat was the first jazz critic to notice me in the 50s, he produced my first solo
    outing as a leader, and he was my friend on the phone for 65 years. Nat was
    also the most perceptive writer (Village Voice) on politics this country has had
    in the last century. It was an honor to know him. Thanks, Nat !

  4. Gerry Kuroghlian

    Nat Hentoff’s THE DAY THEY CAME TO ARREST THE BOOK ( 1983) was a pivotal young adult novel concerning censorship. Mr. Hentoff was a boon to Language Arts teachers and librarians faced with increasing threats of banning books. He will be missed.