Friday, December 29, 2006
Happy New Year!
Bob Stewart, Program Director www.kcck.org
Thursday, December 21, 2006
NPR's Toast of the Nation will again ring in the New Year for us. We'll start at 7pm on the East Coast on Sunday night with Kendrick Oliver and the New Life Jazz Orchestra from Berklee College of Music in Boston, followed by a tribute to the late Jay McShann from Bobby Watson's Kansas City Jump Band. Then we'll move on to the Big River Concert for New Orleans from Chicago's Symphony Center with Branford and Ellis Marsalis, Nicholas Payton and others. A set by Steve Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchesta at Tonic in New York City follows that, before we move on to Kansas City with Karrin Allyson from the Repertory Theater there. The night will conclude with a set of blues from the Derek Trucks Band at the Kreswick Theater in Philadelphia, the jumpin' jive of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the McCoy Tyner Trio with Joe Lovano from Yoshi's in Oakland.
Happy New Year from all of us at KCCK!!
Bob Stewart, Program Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Last night we featured Kerry Strayer and his orchestra with "Christmas in Kansas City." Strayer is the musical director for the Plaza Lighting Ceremony in K.C. every year and he's put together a collection of some of his really fine arrangements of holiday favorites. Tonight it's "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" by Skafish, a pianist out of Chicago who made his name in the rock and New Wave genres in the 80's, but has now crossed the street to the jazz side of things. Some really nice trio arrangments. Mack Avenue Records has put out their second compilation of music from some of its stable of artists, most notably the young trumpeter Sean Jones, but also the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, the Hot Club of Detoit, and Oscar Castro-Neves. "Jazz Yule Love II" will be featured Wednesday night. And then on Thursday night, our Featured CD for December, "The Harlem Nutcracker," will be spotlighted. This was originally out in 1999, but didn't get widely released. It's a really fine addition to our holiday collection featuring David Berger and his Sultans of Swing Big Band performing music based on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, including three Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn arrangements.
All of our vintage jazz programs on Sunday along with Bob Naujoks Gentle Jazz will be in the holiday mode, as will Nightbreeze Sunday night, highlighted by specials from the Paul Winter Consort and by Ian Anderson. And then from midnight Sunday to midnight Monday, KCCK will have our annual mix of non-stop holiday classics and newer releases. Included will be the debut of our Jazz at Riverside concert with Dan Knight, A Swingin' Jazz Christmas, at 10am on Christmas Day, and a special with Dave Brubeck combining holiday music and conversation with the legendary pianist at 6pm that night.
Then it's on to our End-of-the-Year specials the following week, which we'll talk about more in an upcoming post. Enjoy!
Bob Stewart, Program Director
Monday, December 18, 2006
There are two groups of people who are already tired of Christmas music before most of us have even started our shopping: Anyone who works in retail, and…. DJs.
“Christmas Creep” gets worse every year, as decorations and music often pop up before Halloween. And the recent competition in pop radio to be “your holiday music station” guarantee that we get a full dose of Christmas cheer well before Thanksgiving.
And if you think you get tired of Christmas music, imagine the announcer sitting in the studio playing those songs day after day.
Personally, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with holiday music for years. As a young radio announcer, I would watch with a sinking feeling as the program director hauled a scarred cardboard box into the studio with the word “XMAS” scrawled on the side in faded block letters. This sight signaled four endless weeks of format-busting tedium, as even the most contemporary station’s playlist suddenly sprouted Perry Como, Bing Crosby and the Boston Pops. For a young DJ who prided himself on being on music’s cutting edge…. pure torture.
Had you asked me in those days, I would have told you the only Christmas song worth the vinyl on which it was pressed was Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” As time passed, a few other tunes made my “tolerable” list: Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s “Little Drummer Boy,” Santa Baby” (Eartha Kitt’s original, not Madonna’s horrifying remake), and the Russian and Chinese Dances from the Nutcracker (although that may have been due more to Disney’s “Fantasia”).
But in 1984 a record arrived that changed how I, and millions of others, perceived Christmas music forever.
It was by a little-known Midwestern group whose music combined the forms of classical music with the rhythms of rock & roll. Up to this point, the major market for their albums had been to audiophiles and the occasional stereo store, who used their high-quality vinyl pressings to demo stereo speakers.
I’m speaking, of course, of Mannheim Steamroller. Chip
But classically-inspired rock wasn’t easy to pigeon-hole, and Mannheim Steamroller’s Fresh Aire might have remained just a musical footnote (or perhaps, grace note), had
For my money, the release of "Christmas" is one of the major musical landmarks of the last thirty years, because it completely rejuvenated the holiday music industry. It no tonly made people take holiday music more seriously, it paved the way for other artists to get their Christmas music heard, even if it didn’t fit into the usual pop milieu.
Certainly, Mannheim Steamroller changed the way I thought about Christmas music. I was captivated not only by the fresh spin
When I got to Jazz 88.3, I didn’t know what to expect when Gordon Paulsen pulled out the boxes with the Christmas CDs (aluminum instead of cardboard, it was the Nineties, after all). Would Christmas jazz meet my new “it’s OK if they’re serious about the quality” test or be the jazz equivalent of the Beach Boys “Little Saint Nick?”
I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of changing KCCK’s sound, our Christmas music enhanced it, as every tune was good jazz, just jazz that happened to feature holiday melodies. Now, Christmas on 88.3 is one of my favorite times to listen, as I get to hear all-time jazz greats from Miles Davis to Oscar Peterson to Harry Connick Jr. make the music of the holidays their own.
So what makes good Christmas music? I suggest that a great Christmas song needs to embody the same qualities of an artist’s entire body of work. The song needs to stand on its own, regardless of whether it’s a Christmas song or not.
Springsteen’s “Santa Claus” works because it’s a good Springsteen tune. Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and of course Chip Davis bring the same passion to their Christmas music they sought to achieve with their “regular” recordings.
Good Christmas music? Yes. But good music first.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The Dec. 6 New York Times reviewed several of the models available. You can read their review here (free registration to newyorktimes.com may be required).
Here's our opinion thus far: The Radio Shack is a great buy for the money, with the benefit of being available locally. We have two, one is playing in my office at this very moment. Only downside is no alarm function, if you're looking for a clock-radio replacement.
The Sangean HDR-1 is a close second, and with its wood-grain case, might look better with your decor.
The Boston Acoustics has slightly better sound, particularly bass response, but it's expensive.
All of the above are table-top models. The only component tuner we've seen is the other Sangean, the HDT-1. But it is outstanding, and we think may be the equal of tuners costing hundreds more.
Have you bought or even heard an HD radio? Please share your opinions! It will help us and be a good guide to others.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I will check in to give you an idea of what's coming up on my next show. Sometimes the lineup changes at the last minute...last Sunday I did an extended tribute to jazz legend Jay McShann who died on December 7th. The week before I did a two-hour remembrance of Anita O'Day.
What's coming up this Sunday? As they say in radio-land, "stay tuned." Except now you can bookmark this site to get the latest news on your favorite programs. I'd certainly encourage you to let us know your thoughts about the station and this show.
KCCK Jazz Program Producer
Your comments are welcome! Post here or email me directly at the address below.