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Winter 2020 special programming

February 12th, 2020

Welcome to 2020! KCSM is pleased to bring you a series of special programs over the next three weeks. Please tune in and join us for these shows:

Friday, 2/14-2/16 Valentine’s Day weekend

All weekend long we’ll bring you songs and stories about love and love “gone bad.” Friday, February 14th Alisa Clancy and Pete Fallico start your morning on A Morning Cup of Jazz. Chris Cortez and Lee Thomas take over from 10-2pm, Jayn Pettingill and Michael Burman follow from 2-6pm and Harry Duncan will close the evening on the Jazz Oasis. Saturday and Sunday will be full of surprises and “Lovely Love” from Greg Bridges, Sonny Buxton, Dick Conte and Jesse “Chuy” Varela. Be sure to tune in!


Sunday, 2/16 2-6pm – Celebrate Machito’s 100th Birthday with Jesse “Chuy” Varela on The Latin Jazz Show

Hola Jazz Fans! Join Jesse ‘Chuy’ Varela and Chris Cortez for a celebration of the Machito Orchestra.  With his longtime musical director, Mario Bauza, Frank Grillo, better known as Machito, blended Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz in the 1940s and gave America a vibrant new Latin twist.  Don’t miss it as we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Machito Orchestra.


Monday, 2/17 2-6pm – (President’s Day) Monk Tribute with Jesse “Chuy” Varela on Jazz In The Afternoon

Thelonious Monk is one of the major figures of bebop and revered as a father of modern jazz. Jesse “Chuy” Varela remembers Thelonious Monk on the anniversary of his passing in 1982.


Wednesday, 2/19 2-6pm – Nina Simone Special with Jesse “Chuy” Varela on Jazz In The Afternoon

Nina Simone is an iconic voice in American popular music and renown as “The High Priestess of Soul”. Jesse “Chuy” Varela celebrates Nina Simone with a profile of her life, legacy and controversy.


Friday, 2/21-2/23 Celebrate The Bay!

Alisa and Chris Phillips will kick off this weekend as we “Celebrate the Bay!” followed by the whole crew as we appreciate our own – musicians, educators and colleagues with music and stories going back to the 1940’s up to the music makers of today!


Monday, 2/24. 2-6pm – Jesse “Chuy” Varela honors Bobby Hutcherson

Join Jesse “Chuy” Varela for a celebration of NEA Jazz Master Bobby Hutcherson with a reflection on his illustrious career and contributions. From Lionel Hampton to Milt Jackson, the vibraphone is now an established voice in jazz and in modern times nobody could make it sing better than Bobby Hutcherson.


Tuesday, 2/25. 7-10am – Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Show!

Get ready to join the grand second line and grab some throws with Alisa Clancy and Harry Duncan who will host a “Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday Show.”


Friday Feb 28-March 1. Nat King Cole and the Singers Weekend

Be sure to tune in all weekend long as your favorite hosts celebrate Nat King Cole and the great singers and pianists of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s…..The Golden Age of Jazz!

Swing Bop and Jump Special – Friday August 30 – 7am-10am

August 28th, 2019

If You’ve been listening to Jazz91 for any length of time you know were all about the history and passing on the stories in our music. Coming up Labor Day weekend we’ll be telling the story of Swing to Bop! Alisa Clancy and Michael Burman will kick it off with the music of WW2 at 7am that Friday, August 30 –And they’ve got a lot of great gifts; the Very Best of Swing 3-CD Set. The Essential Jump Blues, which marked the beginnings of R & B, a Charlie Parker 10CD Set that captures some of the rarest Bird in live settings, plus we’ve got a new Bird Tee! AND since it’s Labor Day weekend you can show your workers muscle (!) with the iconic Rosie the Rivetor Tee Shirt. So, get ready to dance, swing, and bop all Labor Day weekend long!

Duke and the Big Career

June 2nd, 2019

Miles Davis once said: “Someday all the jazz musicians should get together in one place and get down on their knees and thank Duke.” It’s true, nobody did more to make jazz a serious art form than Duke Ellington. 

Here is the second in our Spring panel on Duke Ellington: “Duke and the Big Career.” (See our earlier post, “Duke Ellington, Origins of the Jazz Mover” for details on Duke prior to 1940.)

As the century took off from 1940, a lot of things combined to close out the big band format that Duke had been using. There was the war, new requirements on royalty payments to writers by performers, entertainment shifts from “big band dancing” to suburb entertainment, all taking the business support out from under the big bands.

In this shift, Duke with smaller groups became a central performer of the “old songs” that people could dependably go to for the music they remembered. (The music ranges were extreme. The following two hyperlinks will give you a pair of examples. Click here for Mood Indigo or here for Cotton Tail, a jumping dance number from the ’30’s. Do a YouTube search for It Don’t Mean A Thing Anymore, Jump For Joy. Click the video frame below for In a Sentimental Mood…). He continued to compose, especially in his famous collaboration with Billy Strayhorn. Duke’s output was labeled “enormous” and by sheer volume of quality work, kept jazz a major art form in mid-20th century America. (Try opening Google and keying in a search for Duke Ellington titles !).

In this period Duke produced some sizeable works. (Try keying up Diminuendo & Crescendo in Blue, Black, Brown and Beige, Jump for Joy, Far East Suite, Such Sweet Thunder, or Creole Rhapsody. He was even recorded as the Duke Ellington Songbook by Ella Fitzgerald.) He produced themes of popular movies (Anatomy of a Murder, Paris Blues, Nutcracker Suite, Peer Gynt). In a unique turn Duke composed a number of religious or sacred concerts (look for “A Concert of Sacred Music”.) Duke played music that Europe loved too, and filled out his bands’ lives with the tours over there.

Join Jazz 91 for a weekend of Ellingtonia, as we honor one of the most important creative forces in twentieth century music, the great Edward Kennedy Ellington, Friday June 7th through Sunday June 9th, right here on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station.

Duke Ellington, Origins of the Jazz Mover

May 29th, 2019

The music career of Duke ‌Ellington, a jazz mover of the 20th century that we know (Take The “A” Train), was little accident. Duke was born to professional musician parents . He started piano lessons at 7, wrote his first song and was playing for money by 15, was running his own band by 23, recording by 25 and carried his bands for 50+ years to 75.

The Duke music we know was backed by a package of almost “everything.” Beyond his playing he was a master at his song-writing form, had original imagination, had the eye for good musicians, skill at leading, reasonable business sense, a good public presence, and little of life habits that dragged him down.

Duke moved his music with the times, sometimes leading it, and rarely going so far off that he lost his audience. In his first 10 years a lot of Duke’s music reflected things like the ’20 dance era, and seems remote from our jazz “regular stuff.” However, he was doing new things, with trumpet “wow’s” and high-pitched reaches. Try dialing up Youtube for “Creole Love Call” for a sample. Fifteen years in with his bands he was moving closer to us. His “Take the A Train” in 1940, almost 80 years ago is pretty well imbedded with us. Click on the video sample above to hear it.

Duke’s music kept going, with a lot of standards we know well. There are also plenty of fun and interesting pieces that we may not have seen circulation on. See our next Duke posting, “Duke and the Big Career” for more flavors in his work.

Duke will be featured big time on KCSM the weekend of June 7. You can get some Duke Ellington butter spread on the bread for you Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tune in Friday and you’ll catch Chuy & Mel 2-6 pm, Saturday Sonny, Dick & Mel 10am to 6 pm, and Sunday Keith & Mel 9 am – 2 pm.

Celebrating Miles Davis

May 27th, 2019

Miles Davis is acknowledges as one of the most influential and celebrated musicians. As a trumpeter, composer and band leader he pioneered many new styles of jazz during his career. His career spans the early bebop of the 1940 through the jazz fusion of the 80s-90s. Through all of his transitions Miles was always leading the way for the rest of the jazz world.

A quick browse through his web site at will give you a glimpse of his prolific repertoire and styles. Even today they are releasing remixes of his classic albums Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain.

On Tues May 28th we will celebrate Mile’s birthday with a 7am-6pm show. Alisa,, Jayne, Lee, Chris, Chuy and Mel will be on hand to detail the career of Miles Davis.

On the weekend the celebration will continues with:

  • Fri 6/7 2-6pm with Chuy and Mel
  • Sat 6/8 10am-6pm with Sonny, Dick and Mel
  • Sun 6/9 9am-2pm with Keith and Mel

Spring is here at KCSM!

May 26th, 2019

The flowers are blooming and the weather is warming up. KCSM is celebrating with special shows on Miles Davis and Duke Ellington.

Review the list of Duke’s compositions and you get a perspective of why Duke Ellington is considered one of America’s premier composers.  All through the 1920s and on Duke along with his collaborator Billy Strayhorn produced some of the greatest jazz compositions in America. He produced hundreds of major works and standards played by musicians today. Listen about how his big band of the 30’s and 40’s launched the careers of many major jazz artists.

There is no other jazz artist like Miles Davis. Starting in the 1940 he progressed through the 1990’s changing jazz and music dramatically along the way. Members of his group like John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and others went on to launch groups of their own. Recently remixes of Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain were released. Mile lives on!

The spring celebration starts on Tues May 28th with a birthday celebration for Miles. Listen in as Alisa, Jayne Pettingel, Lee, Chris, Chuy and Mel celebrate Miles all day from 7am to 6pm.

Then starting Friday 5/31 it is a Miles Davis weekend.

  • Fri 5/31 2-6pm Chuy and Mel
  • Sat 6/1 10am-6pm Sonny, Dick and Mel
  • Sun 6/2 10am-6pm Keith, Alisa, Chuy and Chris

The next weekend is a celebration of Duke’s 120th Anniversary.

  • Fri 6/7 2pm-6pm Chuy and Mel
  • Sat 6/8 10am-6pm Sonny, Dick and Mel
  • Sun 6/9 9am-2pm Keith and Mel


March 1st, 2019

On Friday, March 8th, KCSM is celebrating!  It’s the Final Day of our Winter Fund Drive AND its International Women’s Day, so we’re paying tribute to the Ladies, All Day and All Night. KCSM will be shining the spotlight on the unsung heroines of Jazz. That’s our 26th Annual Tribute to Women in Jazz  

Women in music have been around since the outset of Jazz as musicians, composers, arrangers, vocalists, managers, producers, promoters and business women.  They continue to make their voices heard today. 

Jazz today has lots of great examples for lady musicians, and the rest of us. Towering above many lady jazz figures is Marion McPartland, pianist, and for many years in her later life the host on NPR Jazz. A famous arranger and big band trombonist, in the 40’s through 80’s was Melba Liston, along with trumpeter Ellen Seeling from a later period going into present day. Ellen has become Director of the Oakland Montclair Women’s Big Band. Vi Redd and Geri Allen were respectively saxophone, 50’s through 2010 and composer, pianist, 80’s through 2017.

Tune in and join Jayn Pettingill, Alisa Clancy, Chris Cortez, Lee Thomas, Melanie Berzon, Chuy Varela and Kathleen Lawton, for our 26th Annual International Women’s Day Celebration: 24 hours of Women in Jazz on Friday, March 8th, Midnight to Midnight, right here on KCSM, 91.1FM, the Bay Area’s Jazz Station

The images in order are, Marion M, Melba L, Ellen S, and Vi Redd.

Cuban Descarga – Jam Session !

February 22nd, 2019

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

February 22nd, 2019

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

February 22nd, 2019

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!