I'm a longtime music critic and a veteran journalist who both writes and edits.
Carlo Wolff remembers hiding a Bakelite radio under his pillow when he was a kid in
Columbus, Ohio in the '50s and listening to what was then called race music on AM. Rock
and roll was coming into its own, the blues dogging it into meaning. At college, particularly
at Brandeis University and to a lesser degree at Boston University (BA, English, 1968), Wolff
was turned onto jazz by New York Jews of high intellectual development and prescient
taste who were eager to spread the word of Bird, Monk and Coltrane. Wolff missed the first
but saw the others in New York nightclubs.
After he secured his first reporter's job in 1971, Wolff began to cover music, reviewing
everybody from the Marshall Tucker Band to Liberace to Elton John to Talking Heads to
Miles Davis to Al Jarreau. His record collection grew considerably, largely thanks to
relentless pursuit of promotional lists.
When Wolff moved to Cleveland in 1986, he began to review even more frequently, and in
the late '90s became the de facto jazz critic for the Plain Dealer, covering numerous shows
both large and small. He also reviewed rock, and in 2006, published Cleveland Rock & Roll
Memories, a book of reminiscence and imagery from the city's glory days as a breakout
While he never was a full-time music critic, Wolff has been writing about music for decades
and has written liner notes and promotional bios for such companies as Prestige, Warner
Bros. and Blue Note. For the past 14 months, he has been a reporter for the Cleveland
Jewish News, covering everything from personality profiles to arts reviews to hard news.
Wolff also was one of three editors of The Encyclopedia of Record Producers, a 1999
Billboard publication instigated by Aurora resident Eric Olsen, founder of
www.blogcritics.com, a portal to which Wolff has contributed. Recently, he has been
working on Invisible Soul, a project about underground Cleveland soul music that has more
than 400 followers on Facebook.
From February 1990 to August 2008, Wolff worked for Lodging Hospitality, a recently
shuttered trade publication targeting the hotel industry. His position as features editor led
to his writing about key hotel figures and institutions, to worldwide travel, and to travel
stories for the Boston Globe, the St. Petersburg Times and the Plain Dealer. He now
regularly contributes book reviews to the Christian Science Monitor and Pittsburgh Post-
My Jazz Story
I was first exposed to jazz in the early '60s: Monk, Bird, Coltrane. I've reviewed jazz for the
Cleveland Plain Dealer and Jazz Times, among other publications. I still occasionally check out
a club date, enjoy covering festivals, and like talking about jazz with similarly inclined friends.
While I like all kinds of music, jazz is my default. I haven't covered a big rock concert in years.
The last rock band to captivate me – and it still does – is Nine Inch Nails.