Music and the write stuff

Research strikes chord with jazz professor

By Beth Bohn

Wayne Goins performs on the guitar.

Wayne Goins, university distinguished professor of jazz, is a prolific writer, composer and musician.

Wayne Goins brings music to life, whether playing, composing or writing about it. “My passion for performing and writing about music is what keeps me moving forward, looking for the next magic moment — both on the stage and on the page,” said Goins, university distinguished professor of jazz in the College of Arts and Sciences.

An acclaimed jazz guitarist with 26 albums and numerous original compositions and performances to his credit, Goins also is a prolific writer about all things jazz, soul, blues, pop, funk, reggae, and rhythm and blues.

“My writing is one of the most significant forms of active research that I do — it’s a result of having had experience in so many genres of music,” Goins said. “I am constantly integrating, processing, revisiting and reformulating all the things that I think I know and then releasing my creative energies out into the world.”

Goins is the author of books about music legends — including Jimmy Rogers, Charlie Christian and Pat Metheny — and tips on teaching jazz. He also regularly writes for leading music magazines and journals. Goins currently is writing a 10-piece series on rock music for Power of Music and Audio, or PMA, magazine and pens monthly interviews with some of the greatest jazz guitarists in the country for Jazz Guitar Today magazine. He writes critiques and reviews and analyzes blues albums for Living Blues magazine and also writes music reviews for Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors. He even has written liner notes for some highly acclaimed albums.

“The writing process feeds my incessant need to constantly deliver something that was only an idea until it came into fruition,” he said. “It is my way of giving birth — and it keeps my mind sharp, too.”

Goins particularly enjoys digging into biographical and historical material about music for his writing.

“I love exhaustive research,” he said. “The process of leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the comprehensive study of any given artist and their entire musical output really energizes me. I’m what I call a completist — I like having entire collections of things.”

When it comes to inspiration for his music and writing, Goins looks to music legends and well-known authors: Guitarists George Benson and Pat Metheny, pianist Bill Evans and music giants Prince, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix are among his favorites. As a writer, he enjoys Eric Nisenson, Joan Didion, Peter Guralnick, Joyce Maynard, Susanna Kaysen, Nora Ephron, Anthony Bourdain and Christopher Hitchens, to name a few.

“A constantly curious, creative and craving mind is what keeps me inspired,” Goins said.