Dr. Steven L. Isoardi received his PhD in political science from UCLA, and is currently an adjunct professor at Antioch University, and an independent researcher/writer. Before retiring from full-time teaching, he taught at UCLA, UC Irvine, Antioch University, and the Oakwood School.
From 1989 to 1999, he was the researcher/interviewer for the “Central Avenue Sounds” project of the UCLA Center for Oral History Research, and from 2000 to 2003 for their “Beyond Central” project, compiling forty-seven life-history interviews with Los Angeles jazz musicians. He authored and edited Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 1998), which won the 1999 Oral History Association Book Award, as well as editing Jazz Generations (Continuum, 2000) and Songs of the Unsung (Duke University Press, 2001), the autobiographies of L.A. jazz greats Buddy Collette and Horace Tapscott. For Rhino Records, he produced the 4-CD set Central Avenue Sounds, and edited/authored the accompanying 100-page booklet. In 2006 his history of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and community arts movement of South Los Angeles — The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles — was published by the University of California Press.
Dr. Isoardi has also contributed articles to various publications, including the revised edition of the Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Current Research in Jazz (for which he also serves on the editorial board), Grove Dictionary of American Music, and Il giornale della musica. He has served as a consultant on documentary films on tenor saxophonist Big Jay McNeely and alto saxophonist Frank Morgan, as well as the feature-length film on the African American community arts scene – Leimert Park: the story of a village in south central Los Angeles – produced and directed by his partner, Jeannette Lindsay, and released on DVD in 2008.
He is currently researching and writing a series of essays on oral history, the community arts, and jazz in African American Los Angeles. He is a curator for the Interactive Jazz Museum at the soon-to be-constructed Jazz Bakery in Culver City, CA, and is organizing of a series of jazz concerts for the Mayme Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City, CA.