Cuban Descarga – Jam Session !

Fred Witt | February 22nd, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

When it comes to your jazz jam session, Cuba is a powerhouse. Nationally they have all that we do in modern jazz, plus, they have their own national Cuban and Caribbean cultural heritage ! Cuba has focused on arts and music education, so there is no shortage of developed musical talent.

The jazz jam session activity in Cuba has been practiced to the extent that it has become a genre for them. You can easily tap into this music and talent stream. Just call up posted music sources such as YouTube, and professional-quality talent the likes of Cachao, Julio Guiterrez, Bebo Valdez, Peruchin, and Nino Rivero will come rolling out, along with the fresh talent now on the street. Musicians carrying the theme straight to us in the US have been Tito Puente, Machito, and Mario Bauza.

Dial up your favorite jazz station, KCSM, on Sunday 2/24, 2 – 6 pm. Chuy Varela and Chris Cortez will call up the styles and spin the artists in this vibrant, colorful music practice for you.

Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday Sat Feb 23 10am-2pm

Ron Lee | February 22nd, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

The Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith was one of the biggest selling singers & performers of the 1920’s and 30’s. Her rich contralto was a powerful statement of black and female independence, fearlessness, sexual and financial freedom, widening the vision of African American womanhood beyond the piety and conformity of the day. She told it like it really was! Bessie Smith had a commanding personality and voice. She started out singing in vaudeville and minstrel shows through the south. As she became more successful she signed to Columbia records and became one of their top recording artists. Later she would be recording with a young Louis Armstrong. Her legacy is a library of 131 recordings on Columbia.

And Billie Holiday, in her own unique way, carried those themes into the next couple of decades after Bessie. Billie has a way of taking over a song and really reach you. Listen to her tracks on Columbia and you can hear her develop and blossom. Billie went on to be a prominent singers for the big bands of the the 1940s. She sang with Teddy Wilson, Count Basie, Artie Shaw and othere. Her long time friend and musician Lester Young dubbed her Lady Day.

Follow the lives and music of these two extraordinary pioneers, Bessie & Billie, Saturday February 23rd from 10am-2pm with Sonny & Mel on Midday Jazz.

“Ladies Sing Them Blues” Friday 2-6PM

Jayn Pettingill | February 22nd, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

Join your hosts Chuy Varela + Melanie Berzon Friday afternoon, 2-6PM. They’ll be shining a spotlight on the Blues, and the women who sang them. This is a Winter Pledge Special: 40 tracks and 2 CDS for a pledge of $75! Surround yourself with the voices of Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day, Big Maybelle, Aretha Franklin, Esther Phillips, Odetta, Barbara Dane, and other luminaries of this highly personal, and yet seemingly universal genre. Chuy + Mel will be spinning from this collection this afternoon: join them for what will be a great soundtrack for your Friday afternoon!

2 Weeks Inside Studio D, of Fantasy Studios

Fred Witt | February 15th, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

“In September 2018 producer Karen Lile brought some of the Bay Area’s musicians together for one last recording session at Fantasy Studios before they closed up shop.  The fantastic result is a recording session release, a documentary film and interview project titled, “Two Weeks inside Studio D.”

Fantasy Studios of Fantasy Records in San Francisco and then Berkeley was *the* production place of many new jazz music movements in the Bay Area in the ’60’s and ’70’s. When a hot popular creative artist came out in the area, their recording work was probably done at Fantasy. Early artists included the likes of Brubeck, Chet Baker, Cal Tjader and Vince Guaraldi. Fantasy did a lot of film work in addition to audio. Studio D was an expansion in 1980, and was the most elaborate of the properties. Journey’s Escape was an early Studio D recording.

Karen Lile will join me and Jayn Pettingill on Morning Cup of Jazz our first day of pledge, Valentine’s Day. Then Dick Conte and Kathleen Lawton will air the whole session on Jazz in the Afternoon, Saturday March 2nd from 2pm-6pm. And, Dick will tie in his new release that he recorded over in that studio on the Bill Evans piano. 

Lots of bay area musical love connections are coming up on Valentine’s Day then March 2 here on Jazz91″


Fred Witt | February 15th, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

Join Dick Conte and Kathleen Lawton on Saturday February 23rd for aspecial feature on the great award winning jazz pianist and composer Bill Evans.  Dick had the great joy of having known Bill as a mentor and friend and will share some stories about Bill’s life and times, as well as lots of music in various settings. Also a few tracks from Dick’snew CD, Blue In Green, dedicated to Bill. 

So please tune in on Saturday afternoon, February 23rd from 2 until 6, for a tribute to Bill Evans on KCSM Jazz 91


Fred Witt | February 15th, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

Extra-ordinary and Unforgettable! The immensely talented and immortal Nat King Cole continues to inspire millions of fans, 60-plus-years after his death.

With a voice as smooth as silk and fingers that danced over the piano keys with elegance, he recorded over 100 charttopping hits becoming the first black entertainer to host a popular American television series.

Join Melanie, Chuy and Keith as we celebrate the centenary of the great Nat King Cole, on Sunday February 17th from 10am-2pm and Friday March 1st from 2-6pm, right here on KCSM, the Bay Area’s Jazz Station.


Fred Witt | February 15th, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

Tune in Sunday, February 17th, to the Latin Jazz Show with Jesse ‘Chuy’ Varela and Chris Cortez, as they celebrate the Salsa sounds of singer, composer, actor and political activist, Ruben Blades.

It happens from 2-6pm on Sunday, February 17th, at or 91.1 FM

Aretha Franklin – Feb 15 2pm – midnight, Feb 16 2pm – 6pm

Ron Lee | February 8th, 2019 | Leave a Comment »


August 16th, 2018, was a sad day for the music world. That’s when Aretha Franklin transitioned to that Soul Group in the sky, and we haven’t been the same since. The outpouring of grief at her passing, was un-surprisingly stunning and well deserved. KCSM is taking this day to honor her memory.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, is best known for her hits like Respect, Chain of Fools, Spanish Harlem and Freeway of Love. Aretha started out singing gospel as a child at her dad’s church. See started her secular career at Columbia records singing jazz standards. Listening to those early recording at Columbia are a great surprise. Aretha’s commercial success really took off when she move to Atlantic records. She would eventually record 88 charted hit singles. There is no other singer like Aretha.

Join Chuy, Harry, Pete, Dick and Mel, as we show OUR Respect for the Queen of Soul, on Friday, February 15th from 2PM to Midnight, and Saturday, February 16th, from 2 to 6PM, right here, on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station.

Happy Valentines Day! – Billie Holiday 14 Feb – 2pm-6pm

Ron Lee | February 7th, 2019 | Leave a Comment »


Billie Holiday’s songs are some of the best in depicting the joy and sorrow of love. Her story has been told through many biographies and movies. I first learned about Billie Holiday through Diana Ross’s movie “Lady Sings the Blues”. I didn’t even know about her when I heard Credence Clearwater Revival do “God Bless the Child”. Once I discovered here I loved her music.

Lady Day got her start in the 1930s in Harlem. Lester Young nicknamed her Lady Day. She would go on to perform and record through her passing in 1959.You can find out more at her web site

On Thursday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, join Jesse ‘Chuy’ Varela and Melanie Berzon, for a celebration of Billie Holiday. Who else can help us understand the joy and pain of love through song, better than Lady Day? Valentine’s Day, from 2-6pm PCT at 91.1 FM or

Listen to her sing God Bless the Child. Love you madly!

Winter Special Programming is coming! Feb 14 – Mar 2

Ron Lee | February 4th, 2019 | Leave a Comment »

It is time for winter special programming at KCSM. We will have three weekends of great music, shows and documentaries about the musicians played on KCSM.


Things start off on Valentine’s Day Feb 14th with Chuy and Mel honoring Billie Holiday. Aretha Franklin is the guest of honor on Fri and Sat Feb 15th and 16th. Keith and Mel will be covering the Nat King Cole story Sunday morning Feb17th.


Then on the morning of  Sat Feb 23rd Sonny and Mel dive into the Empresses of the Blues Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith. Then Kathleen and Dick are covering Bill Evans in the afternoon on Sat Feb 23rd. We wind up the weekend on Sun Feb 24th with Chuy and Chris covering the Cuban Descarge.


Our final weekend starts on Fri Mar 1st with Mel and Chuy talking about Nat King Cole and on Sat Mar 2nd Dick and Kathleen will review Two weeks inside Studio D recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley.


Also don’t forget our International Women’s Day celebration on March 8th midnight to midnight. A full 24hrs of women in jazz!


We are looking forward to have you join us!

Thursday, 2/14, 2-6PM – Billie Holiday w/Chuy & Mel
Friday, 2/15, 2-7PM – Aretha Franklin w/Mel & Chuy
Friday, 2/15, 7PM-Midnight – Aretha Franklin w/Harry & Pete
Saturday, 2/16, 2-6PM – Aretha Franklin w/Dick & Mel
Sunday, 2/17, 10AM-2PM – Nat King Cole w/Keith & Mel
Sunday, 2/17, 2-6PM – Ruben Blades

Saturday, 2/23, 10AM-2PM – Bessie Smith & Billie Holiday w/Sonny & Mel
Saturday, 2/23, 2-6PM – Bill Evans w/Dick & Kathleen
Sunday, 2/24, 2-6PM – Cuban Descarga w/Chuy & Chris

Friday, 3/1, 2-6PM – Nat King Cole w/Mel & Chuy
Saturday, 3/2, 2-6PM – Two Weeks Inside Studio D Recorded at Fantasy Studios w/Dick & Kathleen

Friday, 3/8, Midnight – Midnight, 26th Annual International Women’s Day Celebration, All Women All Day!