Gwen Thompkins

Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans–based journalist and writer who spent many years as an NPR senior editor and East Africa correspondent. She is the executive producer and host of “Music Inside Out,” a weekly public radio program featuring longform interviews, demonstrations, and performances that showcase the unusually varied musical landscape of Louisiana.
November 10, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue

There was a moment in 1958 when the future of jazz took an extraordinary turn that would be imperceptible to the world for another quarter century. That’s when Ellis Marsalis Jr., freshly discharged from the U.S. Marines in Southern California, drew his mustering-out pay, loaded up his car, and decided which way to go.