All posts by Kevin Vallene

Jazz at 100 Hours 35 and 36

Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 25.

Hour 35:

In this hour we will survey the 1950s contributions of Stan Kenton and his orchestra, Count Basie and his New Testament Band, Duke Ellington at Newport, Gil Evans studio band, Quincy Jones and the adventurous Dectet of Teddy Charles.

Hour 36:

Bebop had its roots in the big bands of the late 1930s and was nurtured in jam sessions during the war and the musician’s strike of the 1940s. By 1950, the prescient Coleman Hawkins, and the pioneers – Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and Max Roach were well-established stars at risk of the music moving on and leaving them behind. Yet, they all had much more to offer in the 1950s.

Jazz at 100 Hours 33 and 34

Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 18.

Hour 33:

Pianist Lennie Tristano was a very visible participant in the modern jazz innovations of the mid-1940s through the early 1950s, winning polls and participating in all-star jam sessions. Yet his music was always a little outside the mainstream and was increasingly so as he began to experiment with fully improvised performances by 1947. While his focus on low dynamics and long flowing lines has been seen as a precursor of the cool school that arose early in the 1950s, the better argument may be made that Tristano created an intellectual setting for the free jazz to come.

Hour 34:

The torrid pace of bebop improvisations reached a point in the late 1940s that prompted a musical reconsideration and Miles Davis was there at the conception. Davis had been with the Charlie Parker Quintet since 1945, when he began to woodshed with composer/arrangers John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans, all of whom would become major long-time contributors to the music. In three recording sessions starting in January 1949, this arrangers’ super-group created a body of music which, when rereleased at the beginning of the LP era, was known as the “Birth of the Cool.”

Jazz at 100 Hours 31 and 32

Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 11.

Hour 31:

Duke Ellington was the well-spring that flowed through many decades of jazz. In 1938, Ellington found his soul-mate in composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn. By the early 1940s, Strayhorn combined with bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster to reinvigorate both Ellington and his band. In the next hour, we will feature the compositions and arrangements of Ellington’s most important collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, from Take the A Train and Chelsea Bridge through Satin Doll and Lush Life to his dying lament – Blood Count – from 1967.

Hour 32:

In the 1940’s, some twenty-five to thirty years into the history of recorded jazz, the sometimes violent reaction against the bebop revolution caused a hard look into the rear view and the jazz world focused on its own history. Many of the players who led the first jazz revolution were still alive, ready for prime time, and welcoming of another chance at center stage. The outside forces that led the small ensembles of bebop and R&B into prominence, also supported the resurgence of quintets and sextets playing New Orleans-style jazz.

Jazz at 100 Hours 29 and 30

Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 4.

Hour 29:

In this hour, we will continue to present bebop innovators – pianist/composer Tadd Dameron and his frequent (but short-lived) collaborator Fats Navarro, the next great bebop trumpeter after Dizzy Gillespie, and two of the greatest and longest-lived bebop soloists, Bird’s rival – alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt who recorded until 1982 and the first significant bebop trombonist JJ Johnson, who was active in music until 1996.

Hour 30:

Most of the pioneering bebop musicians we have featured in the past several programs were centered in New York – Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins, Fats Navarro, JJ Johnson, Max Roach. While New York may have dominated the modern music scene, it wasn’t the only scene. The wartime economy in southern California brought an influx of African-American workers, not dissimilar to Chicago in the 1920s, and with them musicians, nightclubs and dance halls

Jazz at 100 Hours 27 and 28

Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! Here are the two hours that aired on December 28.

Hour 27:

Mentored by Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell became the first great piano innovator of bebop. “It would be hard to overstate Powell’s impact. His ingenious technique and originality as an improviser and composer established the foundation for all pianists to follow. Long after bop had faded, Powell remained a source of inspiration for pianists as varied as the harmonically engrossed Bill Evans and the rhythmically unfettered Cecil Taylor. In other words there is jazz piano Before Powell and After Powell.” – Gary Giddens & Scott DeVeaux

Hour 28:

In 1940, Minton’s Playhouse on West 118th Street hired drummer Kenny Clarke as a bandleader. For the house band, Clarke hired trumpeter Joe Guy, bassist Nick Fenton, and an eccentric pianist named Thelonious Monk. Although Monk recorded with Coleman Hawkins in 1944, he didn’t record with his own group until 1947. Despite these kind of gaps that occur throughout his discography, he is competitive with Duke Ellington for the most recorded composer in jazz. The Blue Note recordings of 1947 – 1952 include many of the most recognized of his compositions.

Jazz at 100 Hours 25 and 26

We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the two hours that aired on December 21.

Hour 25:

Emerging from the Jay McShann Orchestra from Kansas City and relentlessly curious about how to play the new music he heard in his head, Charlie Parker found sympathetic players in New York, especially Dizzy Gillespie. In November of 1945, Bird, as he was universally known, began to record with his own quintets and sextets in a legendary series of recordings for Dial in Hollywood and Savoy in Newark. By the end of 1948, when he began to record for Normal Granz and his Clef, Mercury and Verve labels, Bird’s reputation was forever secure.

Hour 26:

Dizzy Gillespie grew up professionally playing in the big bands of Teddy Hill, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine and writing for Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey. The wartime economy with its shortages and the musician’s strike of the early 1940s led Gillespie to focus on small combos for his own projects, including his seminal collaborations with Charlie Parker in 1945 – 1946. However Dizzy returned whenever he could to the big band format and by mid-1946, he was fronting the first of several financially challenging but musically groundbreaking big bands.

The Underground Martini Bunker Has a New Address


Listen on KJEM every Saturday at 6 pm!

The Retro Cocktail Hour may be moving from Northwest Public Broadcasting’s NPR and Classical Music service, but it already has a well-established second home here on KJEM 89.9FM.

For fans of the funky, vintage-futuristic show who live outside of our terrestrial signal, catch it on the NWPB App through a smartphone, or stream The Retro Cocktail Hour here by clicking “Listen Live” at the top right of the page.

Same party, same day, same time, just at a different address.

Jazz at 100 Hours 23 and 24

We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the two hours that aired on December 14.

Hour 23:

“Because its loose, improvisatory format offers an obvious point of contrast to the swing styles that preceded it, bebop is often represented by jazz historians as a conscious revolt against the tightly controlled commercial environment offered by the swing bands of the 1930s and 1940s. Yet it is not at all apparent that during the formative years of bebop its inventors felt alienated from the large swing bands. [Charlie] Parker, [Dizzy] Gillespie and many others continued to work with large dance orchestras during the war years; and from 1945 onward, Gillespie made it a point to present his music in a big band format whenever feasible. It makes more sense to see bebop as deriving from a musical environment that was very much a part of the musical culture of the swing era, even if largely invisible to the casual fan: the jam session.” – Scott DeVeaux

Hour 24:

Some of the same forces that launched Bebop as a break from Big Band Swing, also fueled the birth of Rhythm and Blues – the rise of independent labels in the wake of the recording ban of 1942 – 1944, the economic infeasibility of touring with 16-member orchestras, the decline of dance halls in the aftermath of the war, and the rise of juke boxes and radio as primary entertainment media. Bebop and R&B also shared the big bands as a common pool of musicians who used that platform to explore the harmonically-rich alternative to swing in bebop and the rhythmically propelled alternative in R&B.

Jazz at 100 Hours 21 and 22

We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the first two which aired on the 7th of December.

Hour 21:

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the very dance-oriented swinging music of the Big Bands was the most popular music around. Never had jazz been more central to mass culture. Just over the horizon were the draft of 1940 that eventually conscripted 10 million men, making it increasingly difficult to field top notch bands.

But in the late 1930s, it seemed like the swinging would never end.

Hour 22:

Although Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman soldiered on, mostly keeping bands on the road into the 1970s (Ellington) and 1980s (Basie and Herman), the era of the big band effectively ended with the AFM strike and World War Two shortages of gas, rubber and players. A leaner combo-oriented music emerged in night clubs after the war. Several band leaders sought to find common ground with the new music and the big band format, but as dance halls faded, the economics of the large ensemble no longer worked.

Jazz at 100 Hours 19 and 20

If you missed last week’s Jazz at 100, you can listen to both hours right here. You can find all the episodes leading up to the current week’s show on the site if you need to catch up on any of them. Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 Thursday nights from 7-9!

Hour 19:

While the jazz of the thirties was predominantly remembered as coming from orchestras and big bands, seminal soloists continued to record memorable music in small group settings, setting the stage for disruptive industry transitions to come in the 1940s.

Hour 20:

In the last hour we heard from prominent Swing Era soloists Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Hodges and Lester Young, featured in small group settings. Continuing in the small group vein, in this hour we’ll hear from the Benny Goodman Trio, Quartet and sextet, Django Reinhardt and le Quintette Du Hot Club de France avec Stephane Grappelli and the influential, but less well known sextet led by bassist John Kirby.