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John S. Wilson, Jazz & Cabaret Critic, Dies at 89

In a copyrighted article by Jon Pareles in today's NEW YORK TIMES (August 28, 2002) it was reported that John S. Wilson, the first critic to write regularly about jazz and popular music inTHE NEW YORK TIMES, died yesterday at a nursing home in Princeton, N.J. He was 89 and lived in Princeton.

The item goes on to say that Mr. Wilson contributed to THE TIMES for four decades and was a widely heard jazz radio host. He wrote about cabaret, pop, Latin music, comedy, the folk revival and early rock 'n' roll, but he was best known as a jazz critic. While his favorite music was the swing and traditional jazz he had grown up on, he listened to and wrote about a broad spectrum of popular music.

Mr. Wilson, the article notes, came toTHE NEW YORK TIMES in 1952 and was the newspaper's first critic covering popular music. In the 1950s and early 1960s he wrote about scenes as diverse as the mambo explosion at the Palladium and the folk coffeehouses of Greenwich Village. Later, as other popular-music critics joined him at THE TIMES, he concentrated on jazz and cabaret. He appeared regularly in the newspaper until 1994.

He was married three times: to Catherine Beecher, briefly in the 1930s; to Susan Barnes, from 1950 until her death in 1981; and to Mary Moris Schmidt, whom he wed in 1983. She survives him, as do two sons from his second marriage, Gordon Barnes Wilson of North Adams, MA, and Duncan Hoke Wilson of Eaton, NH. Also surviving are Ms. Schmidt's sons, Eric M. Schmidt of New York City and Aaron M. Schmidt of Boston and two grandchildren.

The TIMES noted that Mr. Wilson wrote books on his favorite jazz eras. They include "The Collector's Jazz: Traditional and Swing" (J. B. Lippincott, 1958); "The Collector's Jazz: Modern" (J. B. Lippincott, 1959); and "Jazz: The Transition Years, 1940-1960" (Irvington, 1966). He wrote regularly for High Fidelity magazine and Video Review.

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