Charlie “Yardbird” Parker 16 May KCSM Pledge Special

Ron Lee | May 13th, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

charlie_parkerCharlie “Yardbird” Parker was one of the leading musicians that formed the bebop sound. In NYC along with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and more they played in the clubs and concert halls. Eventually each of these artists would graduate and lead their own bands. Bird was captured on Verve, Prestige, Savoy and Dial records. The pledge gift Charlie Parker Bird’s Nest contains a solid collection of 45 tracks from these labels. Listen as Sonny and Melanie tell the story of Bird.

Gil & Miles ! Wed 13 May – KCSM Pledge Special

Fred Witt | May 10th, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

15_05_10_KCSM_GilMilesMiles Davis’ turbulent career of trumpeting & band-leading from post-WW II on lead many mid-century jazz innovations and style advances.  Around 1950 composer-arranger Gil Evans teamed with the then 30-year old Miles.  From there they went on to power iconic popular jazz music of the times.  Gil Evans and Miles Davis!  Creative collaborators!  Musical Mentors!  They played off of each other and created masterpieces.

Miles’ music is described over the years in turn as “bop, cool, blue, and electric.”  The outcome is that you have many places to choose to find music special to you in Miles’ & Gil’s work.  Try these different samples for contrast in their music over time: Spain & Kinda Blue, 1960; Brew, 1969; and Doo Bop, 1992.

On Wednesday, May 13th from 10AM to 6PM, join Chris Cortez, Lee Thomas, Chuy Varela and Melanie Berzon for a Tribute to Gil Evans and Miles Davis, right here on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station

Hammond B3 organ summit 12 May KCSM Pledge Special

Ron Lee | May 10th, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

B3mk2_aWhat is so cool about the Hammond B3 organ? For jazz the Hammond B3 was first played by Jimmy Smith in the 1950s. This led to a whole series of organists like Jack McDuff, Booker T Jones, Richard Groove Holmes and others. The Hammond B3 continues to be popular today. Pete is at the center of a thriving Bay Area Hammond B3 scene. Take a look at Pete’s web site at Also the San Jose Mercury News published a great article at

Pete and Chuy will explore the top Hammond B3 players on KCSM.


Muddy Waters 11 May KCSM Pledge Special

Ron Lee | May 10th, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

Muddy WatersWe are celebrating the 100th Birthday Bash! for Muddy Water. Muddy grew up in the Mississippi delta region. He was first recorded in 1941 by Alan Lomax who was collecting recordings for the Library of Congress. He moved to Chicago in 1943 where he helped create the Chicago Blues style. Through the post war years the Chicago Blues scene was hot. This gave way to the 50s and 60s when next generation of fans discovered blues after first hearing them played by the British rock musicians. Most notable were the Rolling Stones who were names after one of Muddy’s songs.


Buena Vista Social Club – Sun 10 May – KCSM Pledge Special

Fred Witt | May 7th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

15_05_03_KCSM_BVSocialClubTo the American jazz scene the Buena Vista Social Club of Cuba is both a past, 1940’s dance spot of Caribbean jazz talent, and a modern 1990’s movie and music track cum movement resurrecting that jazz diaspora.

The genesis of the movie was, in 1997, Ry Cooder and Nick Gold went to Cuba to record a session with African and Cuban musicians. The Africans never made it.  So as not to to not waste valuable time at the notable Egrem Stidios in Havana they got  their friend, Juan De Marcos Gonzalez to round up a legendary cast of old-timers like Compay Segundo and Omara Portuondo, for a jam. The result was the Buena Vista Social Club movie, a worldwide phenomenon.

If you listen to this audio sample there is a delightful array of Cuban jazz.  The start has a pair of typical caribbean dance numbers, and then you find some surprising jazz improvisation.  In addition there are alternating fast & slow numbers from the same Cuban style.

On Sunday, May 10th, from 2-6pm, Chuy Varela and Chris Cortez pay a visit to the Buena Vista Social Club for an afternoon of musical magic, on the Latin Jazz Show.

Orin Keepnews, Jazz Producer 7 May, 9 May and 14 May KCSM Pledge Special

Ron Lee | May 6th, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

Orin KeepnewsNEA Jazzmaster and Grammy award winner Orin Keepnews was a major record producer for over 60 years. He started in 1953 with the founding of Rivermark Records in New York. He produced many of the recording for Thelonius Monk, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly, Wes Montgomery and many more. After the bankruptcy of Rivermark he started Milestone Records. After Milestone was acquired by Fantasy Records  he moved to the Bay Area to oversee Fantasy’s jazz catalog. After he left Fantasy Records he started the Landmark Records label. Orin continues to work with Riverside artists like Thelonius Monk and Bill Evans as well as picking up new artists like Bobby Hutcherson and the Kronos Quartet.

You can take a look at a list of his works and teh artists he has worked with  at:

A longtime Bay Area resident, tune in to hear Orrin Keepnews talk about his life and legacy, in an in depth interview with KCSM Music Director, Chuy Varela on Thurs May 7th and Thursday May 14th from 2pm-6pm.

On Saturday May 9th Dick, Kathleen and Melanie will have their own special tribute to Orin and his work with Bill Evans.

Seattle Jazz Artists – Sat 09 May – KCSM Pledge Special

Fred Witt | May 6th, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

Seattle is one of the hidden sources of American jazz.  Of their dozens of players some have emerged to form the art and have national following.  How serious is Seattle about Jazz?  Well how about Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Ernestine Anderson just to name a few.

15_05_03_KCSM_QJonesQuincey Jones, a prominent trumpeter and later a towering producer (read, America’s biggest selling albums) was born in Chicago, then arrived in Seattle when his family moved there after WW II.  His career spanned from trumpeting with Ray Charles to producing with Michael Jackson.  Quincey’s style “covered the whole countryside” for jazz listeners.



15_05_03_KCSM_EAndersonSeattle’s blues & jazz singer Ernestine Anderson, born in Oklahoma, also moved to Seattle during WW II as a child, and was already singing choir solos.  Her blues & jazz career has had performing, touring, and dozens of releases.  Try her lively style here.

The blind Ray Charles came into the jazz industry through many small steps, making Seattle his home along the way.  His industry career was in one sense slender, in the size of groups and tours, but in another sense 15_05_03_KCSM_RCharlesoverreaching across society in his powerful, emotional and commanding singing.  In addition to his appeal, his voice was called “the industries’ most recognizable.”

Celebrate the Seattle Jazz Scene with one of its natives, Mr. Sonny Buxton, and his side kick, Melanie Berzon, on Midday Jazz, Saturday, May 9th, from 10AM to 2PM, right here on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station.

Nat King Cole – Fri 08 & Sun 17 May – KCSM Pledge Special

Fred Witt | May 5th, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

14_01_23_NatKingCole_1It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 50 years since Nathanial Adams Cole left us, but fortunately for us, his voice remains alive as ever!

Nat King Cole, born in Alabama & raised in Chicago got a launching to his musical carer from his family.  He learned organ & piano from his mother Perlina, who was the organist to his father’s Baptist church. He performed at 4, started lessons at 12 in jazz, gospel and Western classical, and was in a famous musical school program at DuSable High School. He was already performing in his own group in his teens.

Nat’s did start out commercially as a jazz pianist but his real career with the nation was of him as the singer. He had a soft voice that welcomed all, and carried his fame for decades after his life. Not even 20, and playing in his own jazz trio, someone said “Nat, you should be a singer”. The hit records started rolling. Cole performed on multiple NBC radio shows in the late ’30’s and early 40’s. He recorded for Excelsior Records, and then moved on to the young Capitol Records.  His hot record sales helped float the company in it’s early life.

Nat’s singing successes carried on from there through the rest of his life, (which ended in 1965).

Celebrate the Life and Music of one of the most Unforgettable Vocalists and Pianists to ever grace our planet.  The Nat King Cole Story, Friday, May 8th from 2 to 6PM and Sunday, May 17th, from 10AM to 2PM, right here on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station.

Joni Mitchell – Wed 06 May, Sun 10 May – KCSM Pledge Special

Fred Witt | May 3rd, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

15_05_02_KCSM_JMitchellOur California singer-song writer, in folk, jazz, & pop music – Joni Mitchell – has been named in an SFJAZZ Lifetime Achievement award. On Friday, May 8th, Wayne Shorter, NEA Jazz Master and longtime Joni collaborator, will be in attendance and will accept this award on Joni’s behalf. Appearing with the award will be an all-star musical tribute to this living legend.

In honor of this momentous occasion, KCSM will broadcast Paul Ingles’ thought provoking documentary “The Emergence of Joni Mitchell”, an examination of one of the most heralded songwriters of our time. Joni, the self- directed artist, the self-directed producer did it her way for a lot of her career. When you look into this music, you see how Joni saw it.

Join Keith & Mel Wednesday or Sunday for the early music & life of Joni Mitchell.

That’s “The Emergence of Joni Mitchell”, Wednesday, May 6th from 2 to 6PM and Sunday, May 10th from 10AM to 2PM, right here on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station.

KCSM Spring Pledge – Special Programming

Ron Lee | May 3rd, 2015 | Leave a Comment »

71097_193349651122_1526328_nIt is Spring and time for our Spring Pledge Drive. This year it begins Wed May 6 – Tues May 19. To celebrate we have scheduled special programming. We will be highlighting this programming in the blog over the next few weeks. We will be featuring:

Joni Mitchell

6 May 2pm-6pm and 10 May 10am-2pm

Nat King Cole

8 May 2pm-6pm and 17 May 10am-2pm

Seattle Jazz

9 May 10am-2pm with Sonny and Melanie

Orin Keepnews, prolific jazz producer

7 May 2pm-6pm with Chuy and Mel

9 May 2pm-6pm with Dick, Kathleen and Melanie

14 May 2pm-6pm with Chuy and Mel

Buena Vista Social club

10 May 2pm-6pm with Chuy and Chris

Mudddy Water’s 100th Birthday bash

11 May 2pm-6pm with Chuy and Kathleen

Hammond B3 Organ Blowout

12 May 2pm-6 pm with Chuy and Pete

Gil Evans and Miles Davis

13 May 10am-6pm with Chris and Lee and Chuy and Mel

Charlie Parker

16 May 10am-2pm with Sonny and Melanie