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The Sound of Jazz

On December 8th, 1957 The Sound of Jazz aired live on CBS. It was an episode in the program The Seven Lively Arts. Producer Robert Herridge convinced Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonius Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Billie Holiday, Henry Allen, Jimmy Giuffre, Roy Eldridge, Dicky Wells, Vic Dickenson, Pee Wee Russell, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Danny Barker, Milt Hinton, and Jo Jones to appear together for an hour long live jazz performance. The Sound of Jazz was one of the first programs featuring jazz made for television and is still considered one of the best.

The Sound of Jazz

Bessie Smith’s Last Set

Bessie Smith made her last recording session on November 24th, 1933. She recorded “Gimme A Pigfoot”, “Do Your Duty”, and “Down In the Dumps”. Among the musicians backing her for these numbers are Jack Teagarden, Chu Berry, Frankie Newton, and Benny Goodman.

“Gimme A Pigfoot”
“Do Your Duty”
“Down In The Dumps”

Birthdays of Jazz: Scott Joplin, November 24th

Scott Joplin was born November 24th, 1868. He was a composer and pianist who popularized the ragtime genre through his music. Two of his best known compositions are “The Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer”. Joplin was raised in Texarkana, Texas. He played his music at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, setting off a national ragtime craze. While Joplin’s ragtime compositions made him famous he also wanted to be recognized as a classical composer. He wrote a ballet and two operas which combined his knowledge of classical music and his innovative usage of syncopated rhythm. Joplin spent the last years of his life attempting to get his second opera Treemonisha performed publicly. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1916 and had to be institutionalized. He died in 1917. Scott’s work regained widespread popularity in the 1970’s after the release of the film “The Sting” which used his ragtime compositions as the basis for the film’s score.

Oldest Existing Recording of “The Maple Leaf Rag”
The Houston Grand Opera Production of Treemonisha

The Birthdays of Jazz: Hoagy Carmichael, November 22nd

Hoagy Carmichael was born November 22nd, 1899 in Bloomington, Indiana.  He was a pianist, actor, and composer best known for writing the jazz standards Stardust, written in 1927, and Georgia on My Mind, written in 1930.  Carmichael moved to Los Angeles in 1936 and began composing for films and acting in supporting roles.   He won an Oscar in 1951 in the Best Song category for In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.  Carmichael died in 1981.

Hoagy Carmichael playing “Stardust”
First recording of “Georgia On My Mind” from 1930
Hoagy Carmichael performing “Am I Blue” in the film To Have And Have Not

On This Day In History: November 18th

John Coltrane recorded “Alabama” in 1963 in response to Birmingham Church bombing. On September 15th, 1963 members of the Ku Klux Klan placed sticks of dynamite under the front steps of the church. The dynamite ignited during the church service, killing four young women and injuring many members of the congregation. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said the eulogy for the victims at their funeral later that week. Coltrane composed “Alabama” as his response to the bombing, and he patterned the music on the speech inflections in King’s eulogy. The piece was released on the album Live In Birdland in 1964.

“Alabama”
Video meshing the audio of King’s eulogy and Coltrane’s “Alabama”

Notable Recordings in November

November 3rd

Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records A Night At The Village Vanguard in 1957 with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Wilbur Ware

A Night At The Village Vanguard

November 9th

Pianist Oscar Peterson records” If You Could See Me Now” with guitarist Joe Pass, 1983.

“If You Could See Me Now”

November 12th

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five record their first piece,” My Heart”, 1925.

“My Heart”

November 26th

Charlie Parker records “Koko” at his first session as a leader, 1945

“Koko”

On This Day in History: November 7th

In 1940 Duke Ellington and His Orchestra played at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo, North Dakota.  Jack Towers and Dick Burris were two local radio broadcasters for the U.S. Department of Agriculture who were also huge Ellington fans.  They asked if they could record the performance and were granted permission provided they did not use it for commercial purposes.  The recording was unusual for a number of reasons.  At the time, live recordings were almost always made in concert halls or night clubs.  It is rare to have a recording of a musical ensemble playing dance music live.  Further, live jazz recordings at the time were rarer still.  Towers and Burris brought a portable Presto-S disc cutter which they set up next to Ellington’s piano.  The disc cutter could record fifteen minutes a side on sixteen inch discs.  Most records at the time could only play three minutes a side, but Towers and Burris had access to the Presto because the UDSA used it to create lectures that could be played in farm colleges and extension services.  The recording is significant because it captures Ellington’s Orchestra in its prime with the natural flow of the performance by not forcing the musicians to stop playing due to recording time constraints.  The discs sat in Towers’ basement until the 1970s when Towers retired and took up record restoration as a hobby.  He remastered the discs and got permission to release them commercially.  The remastered album , Duke Elligton At Fargo Live, 1940,  won the Grammy Award For Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 1980. 

Duke Ellington At Fargo Live, 1940 Album

Introducing our new KJEM staff!

At the end of the school year, all of us at KJEM 89.9 FM bid farewell to our graduating staff members, Andrew Swanson and Katherine Barner.

Andrew Swanson began working at KJEM in Spring 2018 in our Operations and Production department. He hosted his own show, titled The Hip Joint, featuring a mix of fusion and other modern jazz. Andrew was instrumental in producing KJEM Live, our live show last November that celebrated our 5th anniversary. His favorite part of his KJEM experience was sitting down to interview Snarky Puppy band leader Michael League. Now that he’s graduated from WSU, he hopes to find a job in audio and video production.

Katherine Barner has been KJEM’s Marketing Manager since the spring of 2018. If you’ve seen a KJEM social media post in the last year, it was written by Katherine! She also found opportunities for KJEM to interview high-profile artists like Snarky Puppy and Banda Magda. Katherine took on a huge role in planning and executing KJEM’s Jazz Night last April, a community event that featured local artists. Katherine hopes to work in Public Relations now that she’s finished her degree at Washington State.

I’d like to personally thank Andrew and Katherine for all they’ve done for KJEM. It was a pleasure working with both of them, and I’m proud of how much the team accomplished during their time at the station!

Today, we’re also proud to introduce two new KJEM staff members for the 2019-2020 school year.

Riley Hoover will take over as the new Operations and Production Manager. Riley is a music major at WSU, and he brings a great passion for jazz that is perfect for KJEM.

Valerie Rice is our new Assistant Program Manager. Valerie has been around the Pullman area for most of her life, and now she’ll get to help bring great jazz to the community she knows so well. We’re excited to have both of them on board at KJEM!

We have another great year ahead at KJEM. I’m excited to see what new projects and ideas the new team comes up with!

Logan Plant, KJEM Program Manager