One day you just wake up and realize it’s over. Simple as that. It was a long glorious run, my first shows were in August 1996, making it 24 years. Wide listenership, too! The KUNM terrestrial signal nearly blankets the state of New Mexico. But, 24 was enough, really. And streaming on the web nowadays made it worldwide. I interviewed countless numbers of jazz artists: Paul Horn, Fred Katz, Putter Smith, Gary Foster, Bobby Bradford was eloquent and a regular, Curtis Fuller, Vinny Golia, Chris Garcia, Benny Golson, Sheila Jordan many times, Kazzrie Jaxen, Buell Neidlinger, Jesse Sharps, Charley Krachy, Bobby Shew often, the jazz scholar Kirk Silsbee, Carol Liebowitz, Marty Krystal, Arlen Asher, Connie Crothers at least once a year! Andrea Wolper, Terry Gibbs, Bill Payne, Ted Brown, Kali Z Fasteau, Cameron Brown, Sam Newsome & Meg Okura, Hal McKusick, Ernie Andrews every December at Christmas his birthday, Leroy Jenkins, SUE RANEY, Johnny Smith (yes, the renowned guitarist), Mundell Lowe (the other renowned guitarist), Toshiko Akiyoshi, Buddy Collette, Ray Anderson, the magnificent Joshua Breakstone 3 or 4 times, KENNY DAVERN was my co-host during 2005-2006, Gene Cipriano Yo Cip! Lanny Morgan, Nick Lyons, Med Flory of Supersax twice, Janet Feder, Brother JAMES NEWTON (we came up together), Michael Anthony, accordionist Frank Marocco, Johnny Pisano (I got 4 of the original Chico Hamilton Quintet! but Chico got away before I got around), David Parlato, Richard Tabnik, Matt Wilson, Cal Haines, David Sherr, Mark Dresser, Dave Wayne, Robin Eubanks, Eddie Marshall, J.A.Deane, DARYL SHERMAN, Giacomo Gates, Dick Hyman, Butch Morris, Ali Ryerson, William Roper, Henry Franklin, Laurie Pepper curator of Art Pepper’s legacy, Adam Caine, Gildo Mahones, jazz philosopher Dan Morgenstern, Roswell Rudd, Steve Lacy, Charles McPherson, Bill Smith the clarinetist, Anthony Ortega, Warren Smith of M’Boom, poet Todd Moore, Matt Brewer (hilarious as I forgot and left my notes at home!), multiply that by ten and that’s how many guests I had either via telephone or live in-studio. AND all the local vibrant jazz scene, and the Outpost Performance Space w/ Tom Guralnick a regular. And I hope these talks will be useful to future historians, they are all archived at Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, Newark NJ, and at my deposit at UCLA special collections. Live in-studio guests for the most part played their instruments right there in the control room with me.
I suppose it was the Covid Lockdown —- the station went to automation at the end of March (2020) —- and is still running that way for safety, this bug can kill you in a minute. RIP. As of today July 1, 2020) the death toll in the U.S. is 130,390, and worldwide 516,335 and climbing, RIP I’d say “only” 497 deaths in New Mexico but 497 is a lot, and more than half are up on the Navajo Reservation, so much grief. But, having a break from the treadmill made me realize 24 was enough and time for someone else to have some fun.
Others I still wanted to bring to the airwaves in live interviews: Carol Tristano, Jay Clayton, Jerry Bergonzi, Carla Bley, Lenny Popkin, Anthony Braxton, Abdullah Ibrahim, Anita Brown, Ratzo B Harris, John Pizzarelli, local tenor saxophonist Sarah Griego, and anon. Next time!
In production at the time of my decision (many shows mature over time and development): I wanted to do an over-view of boogie woogie; trumpeter/physician Eddie Henderson; the genesis of Coltrane’s “Impressions” which is actually ready to go, very interesting how it came into being; Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra; MORE Zoot! to continue where the late John Breckow left off with our Zoot Sims obsession; and an ethnography on the subculture of local jam sessions which I had been recording . . . . . I’ll sneak onto the airwaves and get those out there, someday.
My only regrets are the artists that won’t see airplay anymore, like my ten favorite pianists: Carol Liebowitz, Kazzrie Jaxen, Virg Dzurinko, Harvey Diamond, Wayne Peet, Connie Crothers, Don Preston, Alan Broadbent, Lennie Tristano, Horace Tapscott, and throw in Cecil Taylor for good measure! I loved turning the listeners on to artists they probably hadn’t heard before, Johnny Guarnieri, Don Byas, Jimmy Wyble, George Van Eps, Bud Freeman, Gigi Gryce, Lorraine Geller, Rob Blakeslee, Billy Lester, Melba Liston, Larry Koonse, George Barnes, Spike Robinson, Gene Bertoncini, Cheryl Richards, Andy Fite, Richie Kamuca, Ernie Krivda, Miff Mole, Joanne Grauer, MICHAEL VLATKOVICH, Marty Grosz, Bucky Pizzarelli, Mary Osborne, ad infinitum. Jazz is a living music as Kenny Davern kept driving into my head. Not that I didn’t know that already, but he was not fond of the idea of “repertoire music.” To him Irving Berlin and Pee Wee Russell were not dated or not right here with us, now.
It was Mark Weaver the tuba maestro who brought me on-board. Mark had the Thursday jazz show for 18 years before me. Seriously, before that I had zero aspirations to be a disk jockey. Sure, I’m a record collector and the notion has percentage in it. Growing up in L.A. I grew up in the golden age of radio and the exuberance and passion that went into music in the Sixties. Then, when FM came around and with that I discovered what radio could be, I lived in the vast suburbs and it was a lifeline. But, it never crossed my mind to be a host, not one whit, I’m a writer, a whole other bag. Which is what I have gained by stepping back, much more brain space to continue working on my jazz book. Selfish, yes, but I’m protective of my brain space and a weekly radio show takes at least 20 hours to prepare, or 40, a lot. I could never do jazz wallpaper radio, I had to respect the art, the listener, and myself, and deliver the best I could, no compromise. It’s no fun otherwise. KUNM afforded me that. I was left alone to deliver my idea of what jazz is. And thank you to General Manager Richard Towne, who was my ally all those years. You need allies. Long live public radio !