Alma Carroll



Alma Carroll


Alma Carroll, the wife of vocalist Joe Carroll, speaks about her jazz experience. She was born in Ashville, North Carolina but has lived in Brooklyn for 56 years. Carroll came to Brooklyn after leaving Harlem in 1954 and describes her transition. Carroll offers perspectives on the differences between Brooklyn and Manhattan at the time. With respect to jazz culture, Carroll describes how jazz in Brooklyn has a different atmosphere and that sites like Sista’s Place offer a different experience that attracts people from Manhattan.

She talks about some of the jazz places people frequented, such as the Baby Grand (both in Brooklyn and Manhattan), Blue Coronet, and the Arlington Inn, and the Tip Top Inn. Carroll also comments on the Bedford-Stuyvesant / Crown Heights sense of community, then and now.

Carroll describes how she met her husband Joe, detailing their initial encounters, and how they got married in the 1970s. At the time, he was working with Dizzy Gillespie and Woody Herman. Carroll tells that he could not find a gig in Brooklyn and comments on African-Americans’ relationship to jazz music as something that they do not take ownership of. In fact, she points out that white people can tell her more about Joe Carroll than she knows.

She mentions some of the artists who performed at the jazz sites in Brooklyn and Manhattan, such as Wild Bill Davis, Big Maybelle, and the Berry Brothers. Carroll also talks about performers who came from South or North Carolina.

Carroll concludes the oral history with recollections of her husband. She remembers him playing with the Tramp Band and being the headliner in Redd Foxx’s club. In the 1980s, she was a consultant to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in it the creation of “Steps in Time,” a program featuring her husband, Dizzy Gillespie, the Copacetics, and Peg Leg Bates.


Willard Jenkins
Jennifer Scott
Kaitlyn Greenidge
Weeksville Heritage Center


[1950s, 1970s, 1980s]
Brooklyn, N.Y.


Alma Carroll


August 23, 2010






Weeksville Heritage Center


Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Carroll, Joe, 1919-1981
Copacetics (Musical group)
Davis, Wild Bill, 1918-1995
Gillespie, Dizzy, 1917-1993
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Herman, Woody, 1913-1987
Jones, Etta, -1965
Bates, Peg Leg
Foxx, Redd, 1922-1991
Berry Brothers
Tramp Band
Jazz musicians
African American jazz musicians


Willard Jenkins
Jennifer Scott
Kaitlyn Greenidge


Alma Carroll


Interviewee's Home
Brooklyn, N.Y.


1 hour, 10 minutes

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