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

Notable Birthdays For Jazz: October 18th

Esperanza Spaulding

Esperanza Spaulding is a jazz vocalist, bassist, and composer from Portland, Oregon.  She is currently a professor of music at Harvard University.  Spaulding has one four Grammys.  She is the first jazz artist to win in the best new artist category.

Grammy Win

White House Performance

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis is jazz and classical trumpeter and composer from New Orleans, Louisiana.  He has recorded over eighty albums and has nine Grammys.  He is the only musician to receive a Grammy for both his jazz and classical work.  Marsalis was the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music and he received the National Humanities Medal from President Barak Obama in 2015.  He co-founded the Jazz program at Lincoln Center in 1987.  Marsalis is active in jazz education worldwide and was named an international ambassador of goodwill for the United States by the U.N. in 2001.
His youngest brother, Jason Marsalis will be playing in the Lionel Hampton Big Band during the 2020 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho.

60 Minutes Interview

Second Line

Jazz History In October

The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson.
Photo Credit: Goldmic90 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 

The Jazz Singer

The Jazz Singer premiered on October 6th, 1927.  The film, starring Al Jolson, tells the story of a second generation Russian American who wants to become a popular jazz singer.   His father wants him to become a cantor in the local synagogue and believes being in show business is sinful.  Jolson’s character must choose between his parents’ Russian-Jewish culture and pursuing his dream.  The film is controversial today because of Jolson’s use of blackface throughout the film.  However, the film is undeniably an important part of American culture because it was the first successful “talking” picture with synchronized dialogue and sound effects.  The success of The Jazz Singer pushed all of the American motion picture studios into “the talkies” and effectively ended the age of silent pictures.

Title Card of The Jazz Singer.
Photo Credit: mumblethesilent on Imugr

The October Revolution In Jazz

The first Free Jazz music festival took place from October 1st to October 4th in 1964.  Organized by musician Bill Dixon, the four day festival had over twenty artists and ensembles performing and discussing their work.  Headliners included Sun Ra, Paul Bley, and Cecil Taylor.  The festival helped introduce the general public to the free jazz style.

Source:  Anderson, Iain. This Is Our Music : Free Jazz, the Sixties, and American Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007. Accessed October 8, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central, p. 122

The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson Movie Still.
Ad for the October Revolution Music Festival.
Photo Credit: Maureen Malloy

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

Jazz Night 2019!

KJEM poster
Come Join us!

Join KJEM 89.9FM in Pullman at the Gladish Auditorium, April 11th, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

Jazz Night spotlights local to the Palouse groups Jazz Wires and Fatt Jazz.

No ticket or RSVP required! Simply show up, kick back, and relax with this free community concert.

In the meantime, enjoy some KJEM Jazz online right here.

Excited to tell us you’re going to be there? Send a Tweet, a Facebook post, or an email to [email protected]!