Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ode to Eric…

September 17th, 2022

Woke up this morning to the news of the passing of the great Eric Jackson, the ‘Dean of Boston Jazz Radio’.
I am devastated and heartbroken. A swirl of emotions and memories overcome me.
Eric was my mentor, my colleague, my friend.
We knew each other at WGBH in Boston in the 80’s, when he was the host of “Eric in the Evening”, a nightly 5-hour sojourn through the music of jazz and improvisational music, and I was a broadcast engineer.

I was a fan of Eric’s dulcet tones, his infectious laugh and his eclectic open-minded awesome mind-blowing programming.
Eric not only taught me how to be a music announcer, he taught me that “jazz” could include the likes of Aretha and Ray Charles and many other artists who were previously relegated to the “Soul/R&B” box.
He gave me permission to bring all of myself to my music programming.
And when he asked me to fill in for him on “Eric in the Evening” on numerous occasions, I was gobsmacked, honored and privileged.

Eric came to visit me in California in 2006. On the night of December 1st, I told him to meet me at Anna’s Jazz Island in Berkeley because I wanted to turn him on to my favorite vocalist, Kenny Washington. Eric and his wife were late because they went to the North Berkeley BART station instead of the Downtown Berkeley BART station. The only reason he forgave me was the fact that Kenny was so extraordinary.

Eric had an open heart and open ears. He was a mensch.
He gave of himself, his music and his experience and talent freely.
His passion and exuberance were infectious.
We shared roots and stories that were based in our home state of New Jersey…Eric from Camden, me from Newark.
We had many boisterous fun conversations with our friend, Camden native and poet extraordinaire, Kate Rushin.

I will take Eric with me wherever I go.
And every time I program a set of music or segue between two unsuspecting artists, I will hear his voice and feel his inspiration and support.
And of course every time I hear the strains of Horace Silver’s composition “Peace” performed by pianist Tommy Flanagan, Eric’s theme song for over 40 years, I will think of him, shed a tear, smile a smile, and bow to his genius and kindness.

All praises due to Eric Jackson…one of a kind and unique!
Heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and many listeners.

Melanie Berzon

*Pix are from August 8, 2015, when Eric and I hung out at the San Jose Jazz Festival. KCSM was broadcasting live and Eric came to participate in a panel.

Sonny at 92

September 5th, 2022

 

Wayne Shorter’s still here, but Miles is not here. Max Roach is not here. Trane is not here. Monk is not here. Do I feel nostalgic about that? No. These guys are alive to me. I hear their music. OK, Charlie Parker is not in his body, but everything about Charlie Parker is here to me in spirit. Any time of day, any time of night, I might think of Miles, and the spirit is there. Occasionally I go, Gee, I can’t hang out with Dizzy Gillespie or Clifford Brown after a gig. I think about that, but it’s receding. Those guys — I don’t worry about them not being here in the flesh. I’m not going to be in the flesh, either. Sonny Rollins

The Saxophone Colossus turns 92 on Wednesday, September 7.  Rollins is a towering figure in Jazz, not only on the tenor sax but also with regard to the music’s  development and history: a seven decade career, over sixty albums recorded as a leader and a composer of  tunes that are considered “standards” in the Jazz repertoire.  Join Jesse ‘Chuy’ Varela on Wednesday September 7 for a celebration of Sonny Rollins, 2:00 – 4:00 PM! Pledge at KCSM.ORG

Fall Pledge

September 4th, 2022

Do you stream your jazz station at KCSM.ORG? Or do listen to us at 91.1FM? Either way, we love you madly for making us a part of your listening experience! Radio has been around for a long time and is an important part of many communities, taking the daily pulse of life through traffic, news and music.
Consider that in 1920 there was only one radio station in the U.S: KDKA in Pittsburg. Dr. Frank Conrad, a hobbyist who loved tinkering with the very new radio technology, shared his record collection with friends over the airwaves. Westinghouse Electric Company learned of this and, wanting to explore radio as a commercial endeavor, asked Conrad to help set up a regularly transmitting station in Pittsburg and the nation’s first commercial broadcast station was born on November 2, 1920. By 1922, there were four stations, and within a year, 560 joined the airwaves.
At 102 years old radio has come a long way and yet it still serves many of the same purposes: to connect, to educate, and to inform its listeners. At KCSM, a member supported station, we rely on you, our listeners to complete a unique circle: your stories, and memories often spur us on in the DJ booth when choosing music. We also pay tribute to our San Francisco Bay Area musicians and educators, a very rich community of stunning talent.
We also connect to a worldwide audience that shares our love of this music that is beyond category. Help us to maintain these vital connections so that we can continue to bring you the best in Jazz, and in playing this music forward, reaching people around the globe and right here, around our neighborhood! KCSM.ORG or 1-800-527-6911 THANK YOU!!

Bird Lives!

August 31st, 2022

Charles Parker Jr. was born on August 29, 1920 and left us on March 12, 1955. He was just five months shy of his 35th year. The alto saxophone, Parker’s main focus, was patented in 1860, an upstart in the very cliquish world of woodwinds and brass instruments. At first considered a “novelty” instrument, the saxophone family really did not find acceptance as a serious contender until it found itself in the hands of players like Frankie Trumbauer, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Willie Smith and others.

We’ll hear some of these players to set the stage for the high octane virtuosity that Charlie Parker brought to the still very young alto sax, which hadn’t even achieved its 100 year mark at the time of Parker’s death.

We’ll also hear his music, and we’ll hear him speak of how he thought the music should be: clean, precise, and direct. A directness that conveyed honesty and beauty to his audience. Poetry and spoken word and musicians who have continued to perform his music, unearthing new meanings and challenges for those digging deeply into his work will also be heard. Charlie Parker’s legacy set a very high benchmark for all saxophonists and musicians, one that is still aimed for in 2022.  Tune in Friday September 2, 7-10AM!

Resources, for fun, in no particular order

Ted Joans, “Bird Lives!”

Adolphe Sax’s Story

Rudy Weidoeft’s Advanced Studies for Saxophone (1928)

How a Saxophone Is Made

33 1/3: Part Three, Andy Warhol’s Album Covers

April 22nd, 2022

As the 1950s continued, Reid Miles moved to Blue Note and continued to work with Warhol on some projects. Perhaps as a precursor to the gorgeous photographic covers that were to come at Blue Note, Warhol and Reid chose to do sketches for the covers. The first were for guitarist Kenny Burrell.

In 1956, Blue Note went to a 12″ format for its releases. This Burrell album is the first in that new size. Warhol and Reid chose a photograph of the guitarist’s hands most likely taken by Blue Note’s founder, Francis Wolff. Warhol did the sketch and signed his work which can be seen on the cover.

The second Burrell album cover, is a free form sketch that Warhol did. A double volume, the figure remained the same but the background color differed. This time no photograph was used, however drawing from photographs, interpreting them or using them for inspiration, continued to be a “thing” or a device that Reid and Warhol relied on.

 

 

 

 

This J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding album cover (below right) was inspired by a photo of an 8th century drawing of King David surrounded by musicians (below left). Like any great artist, Warhol was a genius at”borrowing” ideas and making them current.

 

April 23rd is International Record Store Day, we hope to catch you in the aisles, browsing and supporting your local store! Next time we’ll look at another artist and his hand drawn album cover, Miles Davis.

33 1/3: Part Two: Andy Warhol’s Album Covers

April 16th, 2022

Advertising became driven by cultural shifts happening post-WWII and a new market that was emerging: teens and young adults. Plus, innovations made during the war effort and now consumer market ready— the turntable (with the emerging standard of 33 1/3 RPM) and the reel-to-reel recorder/player—had an eager population wanting to experience the joys of collecting; of having a home stereo system to explore the latest sounds. To capture this new consumer group, and to invoke the “new” modern sensibilities, design in the 1950s started moving away from standard fonts and visual narratives.  Record labels were a big part of pushing graphic design into new frontiers.

Reid Miles (of the iconic 1950s Blue Note covers fame) partnered with Andy Warhol looking for eye catching designs for the album covers for the Prestige label. Miles felt that Warhol’s graphic design had a powerful combination of “freedom and structure.” This Monk album from 1956 is a potent example: MONK spelled out in a basic font proclaims the artist’s name easily despite the letters uneven placement.  A florid script gives more details about the recording.

The combination of these fonts are arresting, underscoring the “freedom and structure” that Miles appreciated about Warhol’s work.

Warhol had asked his mother to do the calligraphy for this Monk release. Julia Warhola, an ardent illustrator herself, grew up drawing and doing calligraphy, developing her own type-face in a sense. Warhola herself eventually published a book of her drawings on her favorite subject: cats.   

Lastly, here’s another album cover that Warhol was assigned—“The Story of Moondog” featuring musician Louis Thomas Hardin (Prestige 1958)— and it featured his mother’s script entirely. Next time, Warhol’s sketches on albums.

33 1/3 on Thursdays: Warhol Album Art

April 7th, 2022

Here at KCSM, we love dropping the needle on an Lp, savoring sounds of Jazz from an era before CDs and enjoying the spin of 33 1/3.

With one of the largest radio broadcast libraries, our vinyl library is a Jazz treasure trove. In anticipation of Record Store Day on April 23, we want to feature some of the album covers from our collection. In particular, cover art done by a very well-known artist: Andy Warhol.

Before The Velvet Underground or the Marilyn Monroe screen prints, Warhol made his way as a pen for hire, working often with legendary graphic designer Reid Miles. As a result, some of Warhol’s early design work can be seen on the Columbia Masterworks label on releases for Carlos Chavez, Vladimir Horowitz and Arturo Toscanini.

From 1955 on, we find Warhol’s work exhibiting a more personal touch. Which, if you consider the genre and the artists he was assigned, it is a logical, and necessary, progression for his work. In a sense, one could say that this “begins” mid-decade of the ’50s with a full face portrait of Count Basie.
This album features a pen and ink drawing that Warhol did of the band leader. Turning the Lp over, next to the liner notes, there is a photograph showing Basie seated at the piano, smoking a cigarette. Warhol used this photo to sketch the portrait on the front. It wasn’t until he began working for Prestige and Blue Note that Warhol began to sign his work.

Next week, another Warhol cover featuring his graphic design and his mother’s calligraphy.

Celebrate Legacy in Jazz Radio and Education: KCSM

September 4th, 2021

Hey Jazz Fans!

In 2022 the College of San Mateo will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding March 31,1922. The legacy of this educational alternative to the four-year college will stand front and center and here at KCSM JAZZ 91 we are proud to be part of this legacy and its accomplishments.

As one of the few remaining 24/7 jazz radio stations in the United States, we continue to serve the San Francisco Bay Area, and the world, with the best in Jazz. Presented with aesthetic and educational purpose, our small but mighty crew of broadcasters and staff all share the mission of providing the best programming service possible for listeners like yourselves.

The list of luminaries who have graced our airwaves are legendary figures like Al Jazzbeaux Collins, Pat Henry, Tee Carson, Bob Parlocha, Jack Springer, John Rogers, Melanie Berzon, Alisa Clancy, and our current list of Jazz radio royalty like Dick Conte, Sonny Buxton and Richard Hadlock. Add to that legacy the numerous students who have interned and volunteered at Jazz 91 and of course our present on-air hosts who create an impressive stream of Jazz programming that is presented in a variety of diverse flavors.

Important to the legacy of Jazz 91 as well is how we have contributed to the growth of Jazz music in performance presentation and educational development. As a onetime Jazz studies student, I was blessed to have had KJAZ radio (founded in 1959 by Pat Henry) as guide to this music. Today there are listeners discovering Jazz for the first time and thanks to KCSM JAZZ 91, and your financial support, we are guiding and teaching them about the joy of Jazz and its heroes and heroines like Miles Davis and Billie Holiday.

I want to thank you for your support of Jazz 91. Your generosity means a lot to all of us here at the Bay Area’s Jazz station and speaks to the love you have for this music in all its diverse flavors. Now we need to ask you to help with a contribution during our Fall Fund Drive so we can continue to blanket the Bay Area and the world (via the internet) with Jazz music. You can make a pledge contribution at KCSM.org to help the cause and keeping Jazz alive at 91.1 FM and KCSM.org.

In closing, as the College of San Mateo celebrates a century of existence, Jazz 91 celebrates being part of an acclaimed community resource that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of students by providing opportunity to higher education, the great American equalizer. Through interviews, musical presentations, and most importantly our knowledgeable Jazz 91 announcers, Jazz 91 too educates our community, and the world, about the legacy of America’s indigenous musical artform, Jazz.

Thanks for listening (and contributing).

Bright moments!
Jesse ‘Chuy’ Varela
KCSM JAZZ 91 Music Director/Co-Program Director and
Host of The Latin Jazz Show on Sunday, and Jazz in the Afternoon, Monday-Wednesday.

Bob Parlocha’s “Black Master” Series

May 30th, 2020

This summer KCSM is airing Bob Parlocha’s “In the Spotlight: Black Masters.” This series was created by Bob for the commercial jazz station that once filled the Bay Area’s air waves: KJAZ 92.7FM.

Originally aired in 1982 on KJAZ, these programs have not been heard anywhere since. It is with great thanks to the Parlocha family, who have digitized the original recordings from reel-to-reel and have made them available to KCSM, that we are able to now hear them once again.

The programs, for their focus on one particular artist and their music, illustrate the history of the music, and the very tragic and complicated history in the United States of racial injustice. Bob’s commentary is thoughtful and to the point, never losing sight of the music’s wondrous development and the players who truly lifted the bandstand, making great art and great sacrifices.

The Black Masters, in total, is 38 hours of programming featuring a Black master: their life, their work, and their influences. KJAZ broadcast one hour each week. Some artists were featured for 3 weeks, some for four and a handful for five. We start the series with John Coltrane on June 6 and this particular segment will run for five weeks. 9PM-10PM, Saturday nights on KCSM 91.1 FM is the place to be!

Bringing the Music to You!

March 18th, 2020

Here is a  brief, non-exhaustive list of some organizations that might be of help, lend a hand or point in a new direction for artists in need. And below that, bring the club to you via the stream! (This may change, as of today, Small’s was still scheduling live events.) Also check our Facebook page, more links to organizations that have compiled resources can be found there as well.

COVID-19 and freelance artists: an assortment of links that may be of help for almost every discipline

Rogue Habits: a blog with some California oriented links for assistance.

SFJazz + returned tickets policy: donate your tix for a tax refund

Jazz Clubs/Organizations with streaming

Small’s Jazz Club: free membership, they stream gigs nightly. A paid membership offers you access to their archived shows.

Wolfgang’s Music: streaming service, pay a low monthly fee and voilà, access to a ton of concerts, new and old.

Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy has an array of offerings, performances to education, many free, some pay to view.