Tag Archives: Jazz From the Archives

A PARTY FOR DAN MORGENSTERN

If you read JAZZ LIVES and the name Dan Morgenstern doesn’t ring an entirely lyrical bell, then something in the cosmos is surely out of synch.

I can only speak for myself — as someone who, since the early Seventies, read his liner notes so closely as to unintentionally memorize them, someone who looked for his articles and reviews in books and jazz magazines, someone who tuned in to WBGO on Sunday nights to hear his presentations on “Jazz From the Archives” as a special treat.

And everyone I know in the field — musicians and writers — shares my enthusiastic gratitude to Dan during his illustrious work (since 1976) as the director of Rutgers-Newark’s Institute of Jazz Studies in Dana Library.  And the larger world has noticed, too — Dan has won eight Grammy awards.

It’s always especially rewarding to be able to celebrate someone while that person is around to hear the tributes in person . . .

On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, from 4-8 PM, at the Newark Club, One Newark Center, 22nd Floor, Newark, New Jersey 07102, there will be a celebration of Dan Morgenstern’s Life in Jazz — with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, music, and entertainment.  The Institute of Jazz Studies at Dana Library at Rutgers University – Newark will commemorate Dan’s contributions to jazz and the university with a retirement event in his honor.

Dan’s musical friends — Randy Sandke, Daryl Sherman, Anat Cohen, Joe Peterson, and Dan Faulk — will be performing through the evening, and there will be three special musical tributes.  The price of a single ticket is $75.00, and you can RSVP by contacting Elsa Alves at 973.353.3798 or emailing Merve Fejzula at fejzula@andromeda.rutgers.edu.  If you can make it, please let Elsa or Merve know as soon as possible — and you might also want to make a contribution to support the Dan Morgenstern Endowment Fund (completely tax-deductible).  Checks should be made out to Rutgers University, and sent to

Elsa Alves, Institute of Jazz Studies; John Cotton Dana Library; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; 185 University Avenue; Newark, New Jersey 07102-1814.

Dan has done so much for us and for jazz — !

May your happiness increase.

OH, PLAY THAT RADIO!

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I tried to tell Betty Sue that she didn’t need to place herself so firmly in front of her radio — it’s only Wednesday — but she said indignantly, “Don’t you know that Jon-Erik is going to be on WBGO-FM this Sunday at 11 PM?  I’m just getting ready.  I need to get a good seat, you know.”

Perhaps I should explain.  If you’ve been reading this blog and are saying “Jon-Erik who?” then you have failed the Reading Comprehension section of the examination.

That’s Jon-Erik Kellso, the Michigander Prince of Growl, who regularly leads the troops with intelligence, wit, and passion whenever he unpacks his Puje trumpet.

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(I captured this moment at The Ear Inn:  Jon-Erik, Mark Shane, Mark Lopeman, and Matt Munisteri.  Heady stuff!)

Jon-Erik will be both co-host and subject of the venerable and wonderful program JAZZ FROM THE ARCHIVES from 11 PM to midnight this coming Sunday, February 1, on WBGO-FM (88.3 on your dial).  For those of you beyond the reach of the radio signal, I understand that the program can be heard — in real time — through the station’s website:   http://www.wbgo.org/

Jon-Erik is someone much loved by listeners and his colleagues, but he hasn’t made the cover of TIME just yet, and he missed out on having Gjon Mili take his picture with Lips, Mezz, Dizzy, and Duke, alas.  So I urge all of you to listen.  He’ll be seated next to Dan Morgenstern (someone who needs no introduction if you love this music) and they will talk and play some of Jon-Erik’s own recordings and some that have pleased and inspired him.

Honoring jazz musicians on the radio is not an everyday affair, and honoring a living jazz musician is even more pleasantly unusual.  So do remember to tune in!  They tell me that there’s something going on earlier in the day that calls for beverages and snacks: a group of men do something with a ball, but that remains a mystery.  Save your energies for 11 PM.

And you might want to stake out a comfortable chair near the speaker for yourself.  It really is getting crowded in here.  Who are these people?  Did I invite any of them?

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SOUNDS GOOD TO ME

radio2Over the past forty years, I’ve spent many rewarding hours in front of the radio, listening to jazz.  My mother loved WPAT, a New Jersey easy listening station where the programmers had good taste and a real affection for Bobby Hackett.  Later, John S. Wilson played an hour of jazz once a week on WQXR.  Then, WRVR, with Ed Beach, Max Cole, and other luminaries; WBGO (thankfully still going strong with their jazz programming and “Jazz From the Archives,” often hosted by Dan Morgenstern).  There’s WKCR — with Phil Schaap, of course, but also Sid Gribetz, Ben Young, and others. Rich Conaty, of “The Big Broadcast” on WFUV and Jonathan Schwartz on WNYC still offer up the good noise.  Once in a while, I could even hear Humphrey Lyttelton on BBC shortwave.  And I am sure I have left someone out.

Thanks to Dave Weiner at Hofstra, who hosted his own “Swing Years,” I took my own leap into college radio, circa 1982.  I invented an hour-long show, “Rarities,” where I could play Thirties blue-label Deccas; consider the career of Lou McGarity, and amuse myself for a splendidly small audience.

Perhaps ten years ago, tuning around the bottom end of the FM dial, where the non-commercial radio stations huddle together for shelter, I heard an assortment of jazz records being played — no announcements, no explanation, and apparently no order.  I would turn to this station when I was ready to go to sleep, but (in that state of fuzzy half-awareness, so oddly precious) I noticed that some of their randomness seemed planned.  They would be offering the same groupings of music at the same time each night — for instance, an Arbors CD featuring Dan Barrett and Becky Kilgore.  Then the light bulb — admittedly one of low wattage — went on.  They had organized everything alphabetically by title: “I Thought About You,” “I Wished On The Moon,” “It’s Funny to Everyone But Me.”  Now, whenever I turn to the “Songs” listing on my iPod, I think of that anonymous radio station.

However, jazz on the radio is hardly proliferating now.  But some people have discovered that they can get around the costly necessities of a “real” radio station by means of the internet.  The OKOM people were perhaps the first to do this.

Now, I’ve learned that “PURE JAZZ RADIO” is coming on January 1, 2009.  Rich Keith, who also lives on this island, has let me know that his project will be to play jazz classics 24/7 with time for Frank Sinatra on Sundays.  Visit his site http://www.purejazzradio.com for more information. 

Some days I look at the pile of CDs next to the computer that have to be listened to so that I can review them, and those I’ve just bought, and think the heretical thought, “Is it possible you have too much music here?”  But even in those moments, a new jazz radio station devoted to jazz (!) is an enterprise worth investigating.  Good luck, Rich!