Dr. Herbert (Herb) H. Wong


Herb achieved world recognition as a Jazz Critic, Historian, and Journalist. Besides writing hundreds of jazz liner notes, he was Chief Producer and President of Palo Alto Jazz Records and Black Hawk Records. He hosted “Jazz Perspectives” on KJAZ radio, and was their “Director of Education and Music Industry Relations” for 36 years. He loved producing 50 years of a special Holiday Jazz show on both KJAZ and KCSM collectively. Herb was also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Stanford Shopping Center Jazz concert series, which after his 13 years of producing is still on going.

Herb taught jazz history for 25 years and 75 courses, with live artists, never repeating a topic, for the Palo Alto Adult School. He was the co-founder of the Palo Alto Jazz Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to jazz education and functioned as Artistic Director for their performances. Herb was a past President of the International Association for Jazz Education and elected to the Jazz Education Hall of Fame. He had the honor of having seven original jazz compositions written, named, and recorded for him.

Herb served in the Army during World War II. He was involved in the liberation of the Philippines and was the Chief Instructor of the U.S. Signal Corps in the occupation of Japan. He began his career on the airwaves with Radio Tokyo and the Armed Forces Radio Service.

Herb earned his Bachelor and Doctoral degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in Zoology specializing in Ornithology and Science Education and his Masters in Science Education from San Jose State University. He was a Teacher, Administrator, and Professor both at Cal and Huxley College of Environment Studies, Western Washington University. In the early ‘70s, while a Principal and Professor in Berkeley, he forged an innovative environmental model at Washington School by dedicating a section of his school yard to fruit and vegetable gardening, composting, and exploring nature in diversified habitats. He was lauded by the United Nations for its forward concepts. This yard attracted countless people from around the world exploring and adopting its principles. He published several books including “Natural Learning” a title co-authored by Professor Robin Moore, his associate on this project. Additionally, Herb co-authored, with Dr. Matthew Vessel, numerous children’s books on science, including two environmental series that were adopted by the State Department of Education.

Concurrently, Herb pioneered jazz education and introduced interdisciplinary instruction into the entire elementary curriculum. His program included visitations and interactive performances by “jazz greats” including The Oscar Peterson Trio, Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, and many more. His approach went into the middle schools and eventually into Berkeley High School, putting Berkeley on the map for producing great jazz players including Joshua Redman, Peter Apfelbaum, and Rodney Franklin to name a few. The City of Berkeley has honored Herb for his contributions to Jazz Education. He was a mentor for many young musicians and promoted the careers of countless others.

2015Nick Arocho