Friday, August 3, 2007

Welcome to Jazz from Gallery 41

Having had the "blogging" seed planted by a good friend recently, I've decided to start this blog in the hope of it becoming a community of music lovers....well photography and fine art as well, but primarily about Jazz. Thanks to the internet, I'm building my own station, my own studios from which to broadcast, and eventually a performance space as well. From my studios in the Berkeley Hills, Jazz from Gallery 41 is heard 24/7 literally around the world, in countries I've sometimes never heard of. Proving it truly is a small world and music truly is a universal language. I'm proud of that, and I'm proud that in an ocean of internet radio stations it is slowly and steadily building a following. I'm also happy to be heard on terrestrial radio here in the SF Bay Area on member supported KCSM-FM91 (which also streams on the internet at and note the "member supported", we'll get to that later). I've been in love with this music for as long as I can remember, it's what I want to be when I grow up.

I hear from many musicians who need a platform to talk about their art and their craft. They need a platform from which to get out word of special projects they are working on as well as special events and performances. Sure, we can share that information here. But I prefer this blog be more than just that, and hope it doesn't start looking like a telephone pole on the corner with years and years of fliers stapled to it.

I also hear quite a bit from listeners of the music who love to share their thoughts about their favorite recordings. Perhaps something that's been in their library for decades, or their favorite new recording by an artist they've only heard for the first time. There are those who swear that Jazz stopped with the end of the Paul Whiteman Band or that it went down with Glenn Miller in that plane, and there are those who have never heard a recording by John Coltrane and probably some who are scratching their heads about that Glenn Miller comment. Myself? I love to listen to everything from Hendrix to Ayler, from the recorded field hollers of generations past to whatever falls into the avant-garde category these days. My tastes are far and wide and about as varied as can be. And being that I've been in broadcasting for so long I've probably got a Glenn Miller recording or two at my disposal as well. Be that as it may...I invite all to join this community. We can all educate, as well as entertain, each other.

Jazz is America's greatest indigenous art form. Yet, there are less than a handful of 24 hour Jazz radio outlets across this country. Which is why I started building my own station. It may have been born in this country, yet I've interviewed scores of American musicians who have told me that audiences are more educated about this art form in other places around the world. I find that puzzling, don't you? There are so few radio stations playing this music, and I am deeply grateful that I am one of the lucky ones who are no longer waiting in line for what precious little air time exists (all thanks to the aforementioned KCSM).

And of course there is internet radio which is today very much like what FM radio was back in the 60's when FM radio was more free form. Back when the jocks had more freedom relative to what they played and what they said on the air. Back when the jocks had the freedom to introduce new acts, crucial to the survival of the music. Internet radio is now struggling to stay alive thanks to a board of bureaucrats who want to increase the fees internet broadcasters pay by several hundreds of a percent, as in several 100's not hundredths. We should talk about that here as well. Speaking of "jocks", I subscribe to a number of Jazz programmers mailing lists to see what others think and do with their allotted air space both on terrestrial and on Internet or satellite radio as well. I know they certainly all have quite a bit to say....come on by, drop in. Let's talk about it here.

I took a hiatus from radio for a few years during which I devoted my time to building Gallery 41, and I was also president of a non-profit organization called Jazz In Flight here in the bay area. JIF produced a sometimes weekly music series as well as a world renowned yearly festival named after a much loved and missed drummer from the area, Eddie Moore. We, myself and the others on the JIF board, devoted our time to the organization because we saw a need for a venue that would produce concerts that utilized many musicians who were being more or less ignored at other large scale corporate produced and supported festivals. Many of those musicians remember us in a very good way, and I'm very proud of that. JIF is no longer, money, money, money. Any one else out there doing something similar, please come and let's talk about it here.

I guess that brings us back to "member supported" 24 hour Jazz radio outlets. Doesn't it surprise you that a metropolis the size of San Francisco can no longer keep a commercial Jazz station on the air? I worked at the now defunct KJAZ in this area too by the way, and yes it does surprise me that one day it was a Jazz station and then the next...poof, gone. But I'll tell you, my heartfelt thanks goes out to every single one of those "member supporters" who are out there giving whatever they can keeping KCSM alive and well in our community. There very well may be a station like that in your area. When you hear them asking for your support, please don't just change the channel in a huff. You listen to them, why not help? And please, don't get me started on the lack of Jazz clubs in existence. Put down that remote, and get out and hear live music every now and again.

So, there is lots on my mind after all....I'll pick up with the stream again later.

I just want to close in saying: Always write the word Jazz with a capital J.


Anonymous said...

Greetings Ron!

Just want to recommend a nice program on max roach on democracy now today.. some excerpts from the memorial service.

can hear and see on web

Anna said...

Thanks for the play of my new release "Volando".