Ron Lee | October 20th, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
I was sad to hear Kathleen Lawton announce the passing of Sista Monica Parker, a great Bay Area blues singer. I remember just hearing her at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest this last Sept. Her opening number was the Staples Singers tune “I’ll Take You There”. The audience at teh Blues Stage sang along with her. It was fantastic.
Kathleen remembered many of the interviews she had done with Sista Monica on her show Crazy About the Blues. She was right that after watching Sista Monica perform you were really hyped up.
Details on her passing and memorial service was published by SF Gate at
‘Sista’ Monica Parker, singer of blues, soul and gospel, dies
By Lee Hildebrand
Updated 3:42 pm, Thursday, October 16, 2014
“A memorial service is slated for 5 p.m. Nov. 2 at Inner Light Ministries, 5630 Soquel Drive in Soquel (Santa Cruz County).”
From the Santa Cruz Sentinel
‘Sista Monica’ Parker dies at 58
Fred Witt | October 18th, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Bob Dorough, native of Arkansas and veteran singer & pianist from *way* back has been entertaining the nation for years. Formally he is written up as a bebop & cool jazz performer. Listening live, his work comes through in a folk song & ballad-on-piano tone, with a light touch of Southern twang. His numbers can be as much instrument as singing. When you are shopping through his works you get some variety over the years, and early work can be distinctly different from current times. Try some of his music for your favorites.
Alisa Clancy will host the Bob Dorough story Sunday morning 19 October at 8 am on the I’m Talkin’ Jazz program.
Ron Lee | September 14th, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
When it comes to Influential Important Soulful Singer Songwriters, nobody can hold a candle to Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield. During the 1960’s, 70’s and in Curtis’s case through the 80’s and 90’s, they spoke to us, serenaded us and soothed us with their brilliant lyrics, music and vocals. They both had interesting life stories and left us way too soon.
On Sunday, September 14th, from 9AM-2PM, celebrate these two musical geniuses and their long lasting and ever present legacies, with Keith Hines and Melanie Berzon, on SOULFUL STRUTTIN’, THE LIFE, TIMES AND MUSIC OF DONNY HATHAWAY and Curtis Mayfield.
Ron Lee | September 3rd, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Count Basie was one of the most important and influential bandleaders of the swing era. His amalgam of piano, bass, guitar and drums were known as the “Cadillac of Rhythm Sections”. William “Count” Basie was one of the top swing band leaders of the 1920s. His best known performance are One O’clock Jump and April in Paris.
Join us as we pay tribute to The Kid from Redbank on the 110th Anniversary of his birth with COUNT BASIE, THE MAN & HIS MUSIC, Friday, September 5th from 2-6:30PM, Saturday, September 6th from 10AM-6PM, and Sunday, September 7th from 9AM-2PM. Get ready to snap your fingers and tap your feet on our BASIE BLOWOUT WEEKEND, on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station.
Fred Witt | August 30th, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
“Tunes in the Key of Horace & Bill” will be airing in the pledge drive the first two weeks of September.
These two men of great influence were also a pair of great contrast. Horace was the high energy black guy of “hard bop” and Bill was the laid-back “modal” jazz white guy. They are both nationally recognized in their separate styles.
Horace Silver’s piano & band work brought out the quick- rhythms of “hard bop” to the nation. At the same time Horace could be very fluid in quickly shifting to more romantic phrases. His music came up in the 50′s through Stan Getz, and then on with Horace’s own bands. Try clicking here for a sample of his enduring ”Song for My Father.” Horace released many albums with Blue Note on into their sidelining in the 80′s. Horace passed away this summer at age 85.
Bill, heralded as one of our piano greats played with other greats like Miles Davis. Bill and his cohorts changed the world of jazz in the late 50′s by bringing out “modal” music to the wide audiences. Here
is a sample of their “Kind of Blue” album, a lead example of their new music (and a best-selling album of our times). Bill, with his great artistry also had great personal travail, with only a 25-year career.
The Horace & Bill story will come out Thursday 4 September, and then Sonny Buxton, Kathleen Lawton, Dick Conte and Melanie Berzon will air it again for you on Sunday 13 September.
Fred Witt | August 25th, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Our veteran career saxophone player & educator Dave Liebman, from Brooklyn, continues on from NYC. Dave’s early years came up playing with the country’s jazz greats of the age. He continued, developing new musical styles. His music ranges from “pretty good stuff” to “way out there.” Even now, when he is on one of his “progressive” tracks, he can still be pretty sane listening. Click on a few tracks here to see for yourself. Dave is on the nation’s list of top 100 jazz sax players.
Dave has been a very strong performer during his career, playing several long stretches with groups. Some of these were groups he organized. In Dave’s later years he put more and more effort into educating the coming generation. He is now Artistic Director of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), while playing on almost continuous international touring. Last month saw him in NY, Phily, Germany, and South Africa. (This month will be NYC, PA, Finland, Italy, France, Canada, and Chicago…)
Chris Cortez will be bringing the David Liebman story Sunday morning 31 Aug on KCSM’s “I’m Talkin’ Jazz” for you to hear first hand from one of this nation’s top career jazz saxophonist.
Fred Witt | August 24th, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Bernstein, from Massachusetts, was America’s first internationally-famed symphony composer & conductor. With this he broke the mold which had held that first rank symphony conductors were trained in Europe. While his fame came from the symphony, our general reading of his work shows him into a lot of American music, including jazz. Large parts of his work lived out at the edge of symphony, such as his play & movie score “West Side Story.” At some point it seemed as though he had “played or conducted in almost everything,” classical and American.
In Bernstein’s 30′s he held and recorded a seminar on the musical practices and elements of American jazz. In the course of the presentations he would play a conventional American work. He would then explain some jazz musical elements and explain, with this style, here’s how the same piece sounds, by way of illustration. His recorded seminar on CD is still available.
Bernstein’s work will be described and illustrated for KCSM by musician and actor Hershey Felder. Felder has made a career of presentations showing the style, manner, and work of some leading classical musicians.
Join Chuy Varela & Melanie Berzon Friday afternoon 29 Aug on KCSM’s memorial to hear the presentation and tracks from Leonard’s life work.
Fred Witt | August 23rd, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
American jazz singer Jimmy Scott passed away in June at the age of 88. Given a youthfully high voice (Kallmann syndrom) and his own musical instincts Jimmy’s singing was called “all heart” and he captured the following of many of America’s big singing names; Billie Holiday, Quincy Jones, and Dinah Washington to be included. If you closed your eyes to some of his 90′s work, you’d believe you were listening to a star crooner from the 50′s.
His high pitch made his work a unique corner rather than national attraction. While he was remarkably popular with some audiences the public missed quite a few of his performing years in the midst of on and off relations with the labels and other artists working problems. Try some of his tracks here to pick your favorites.
Join Chuy Varela & Melanie Berzon Thursday afternoon 11 Sept on KCSM’s memorial to hear interviews and tracks from Jimmy’s life work.
Fred Witt | August 21st, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Meshuganah Mambo, or “crazy Mambo.”
Here is the mix of Jewish and Latin in American music. Once you start listening, neither genre “owns” the music, but both are big players. Sometimes you lose yourself and don’t know which theme to follow in the piece.
If you’ve planted your foot of musical listening into either (or both) of these areas, there could be a lot of listening fun for you. Examples of pieces that are up are Xavier Cugat’s “Miami Beach Rhumba,” The Barry Sisters’ “Channah from Havana,” Tito Puente’s “Grossinger’s Cha Cha,” and Mickey Katz’s “My Yiddishe Mambo.” Try a little of the original 50′s music here.
Chuy & Mel will present “Meshuganah” Mambo, or ‘The Catskills meet the Palladium’ Friday afternoon on KCSM to cover the Jewish/Latin music connection in our jazz.
Fred Witt | August 18th, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
The best, or arguably one of the top performances at the Jazz Summer Fest was Nicole & the Top Shelf Big Band playing to a 200-person house at the California Theater. If you had heard this in 1960 you would have believed you were listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s younger sister ! Nicole’s voice is great, and she was great every song, all the way through. She also has power. If the mic had gone out it was obvious she could have carried the theater on her own. One telling point on the whole performance is that the audience held Nicole and the band through two encore numbers. Nicole is some 10 years into her career and works from Florida.
The Top Shelf Band was started in 2009 by Robert Marr and works out of Sunnyvale in the South Bay. They are a volunteer group, and play to keep the “big band” magic sound alive. The band was great.
They not only were good musicians, but they did their job right. Folks who got there early saw the band go through 20 minutes of mic level-setting, section by section. The proof was in the delivery. The horns never rolled over the strings. The drums never ran over the horns, and no one played out on top of the singer or drove the audience out of the hall ! (The unfortunate news here is too many groups don’t attend to this part of their performance.) Nichole & the band didn’t allow any such thing for our show at the Jazz Summer Fest, and are our heroes for it.