Ira Gitler (born December 18, 1928, Brooklyn, New York) is an American jazz historian and journalist. Perhaps best known for The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz written with Leonard Feather—the most recent edition appeared in 1999—he has written hundreds of liner notes for jazz recordings since the early 1950s and is the author of dozens of books about jazz and ice hockey, two of his passions.
Gitler was born in a Jewish family and grew up listening to swing bands in the late 1930s and 1940s, before discovering the new music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. In the early 1950s, he worked as a producer for many recording sessions of Prestige Records. He is credited with coining the term "sheets of sound" in the late 1950s, to describe the playing of John Coltrane.
Gitler was the New York editor of Down Beat magazine during the 1960s and has written for Metronome Magazine, JazzTimes, Jazz Improv, Modern Drummer, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, Vibe, Playboy, World Monitor, and New York Magazine. Internationally he has contributed to the magazines Swing Journal (Japan), Musica Jazz (Italy) and Jazz Magazine (France). He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974.
Gitler was given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the New Jersey Jazz Society (in 2001) and by the Jazz Journalists Association (in 2002).
In 2017 Gitler was awarded an NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship.
Gitler's passion for ice hockey has prompted him to write several books on the subject. He also wrote for the New York Rangers as well as the National Hockey League in their former magazine, Goal.
- Jazz Masters of the Forties; New York: Macmillan, 1966.
- Make the Team in Ice Hockey; New York: Macmillan, 1968.
- Hockey! The Story of the World's Fastest Sport, with Richard Beddoes and Stan Fischler; New York: Macmillan, 1969.
- Blood on the Ice: Hockey's Most Violent Moments; Chicago: H. Regnery Co., 1974.
- The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies, with Leonard Feather; New York: Horizon Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8180-1215-3.
- Ice Hockey A to Z; New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1978. ISBN 0-688-41842-2.
- Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s; New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-503664-6.
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, with Leonard Feather and the assistance of Swing journal (Tokyo); New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-507418-1.
- The Masters of Bebop: A Listener's Guide; New York: Da Capo Press, 2001. ISBN 0-306-81009-3.