I begin my first Jazz for Louisville Music News with a mixture of pride and humility. I have no fancy or "clever" name for the and don't know that it would be necessary anyway. Those readers who may know me already know that I love music and that my tastes are eclectic. At any given time, depending on my mood, I might be more apt to be listening to Muddy Waters or the Grateful Dead than to Duke Ellington or Miles Davis. That said, I have to say that jazz is the major component of my daily listening.
To those readers who do not know me, I offer a few words of background. I started listening to Top 40 radio here in Louisville when I was a child and WAKY was just beginning to broadcast the rock'n'roll of the day. As I reached adolescence in the late `60s I realized that the Rolling Stones, the Animals and the Yardbirds had started my musical journey toward discovering the classic American blues of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker. Likewise did the Blues Project, the Grateful Dead, Love, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band lead me toward the freer improvisation of jazz masters such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis and younger artists such as Gary Burton and Charles Lloyd.
I began to contribute to Public Radio here in town when there was not much in the way of regular jazz programming. However, that was a special time, in the late 1970s and onward, for such National Public Radio features as "Jazz Alive" (later "American Jazz Radio Festival") and annual broadcasts of the Chicago Jazz and Blues Festivals. I was also a dues paying member of the Louisville Jazz Society for some 15 to 20 years, before its President, Lil Gascoyne, asked me to join the Board in the Fall of 2001 and I began to do some writing for the Society's newsletter.
As to personal jazz taste, I especially love Miles Davis (both his acoustic and electric work), John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Although I came to jazz through the more progressive wing of the music, I began "time traveling" in the middle and late 1970s, learning to understand and appreciate that which I had previously disdained as "old-fashioned." My love affair with Duke Ellington began at this time, ironically through a box set of some of his very earliest recordings from the 1920s. Even Charlie Parker, the "Godfather of Bebop" initially sounded old-fashioned to me until I was able to place his remarkably revolutionary accomplishments into the broader history of the music.
Well, enough about me. More than enough, you say. And you're right.
My goal is to share my love of jazz with not only the committed jazzers, but with the blues lovers, metalheads, bluegrass fans and all the other audiences who, together, make the Louisville music scene an exciting one. I call upon the jazz players, in particular, to help me to help you promote your concerts, club performances and recordings through this .
This is an exciting time for jazz in Louisville. At this writing, there are plans for a new jazz nightclub in the renascent Main Street Arts Corridor. Although the local public radio station has lost some of the quality and special features which made it unique for a quarter-century, my rose-colored glasses still allow me to see that some jazz on a regular basis is better than no jazz. The Jazz Society is seeing an influx of new Board members with fresh approaches and new enthusiasm to `spread the "gospel." In fact, keep your ears on WFPK-91.9 FM for details on an upcoming jazz concert featuring Cincinnati pianist Phil DeGreg, British guitarist Dave Cliff and Louisville's own Tyrone Wheeler on bass and Jason Tieman on drums. If all goes as planned, they will play in the WFPK Performance Studio for a live audience and broadcast on Monday, March 10.
In closing for this month, I must express my appreciation to LMN's publisher, Paul Moffett, for keeping jazz "in the mix," and allowing me the opportunity to present this . Thanks, too, to Leslie Stewart, for helping me get connected to LMN and a special and heart-felt shout-out to my immediate predecessor, Rick Forest, for having done a superb job in helping to keep jazz alive.