Former WWUH Jazz Director J.O. Spaak has earned his place in
the annals of jazz survivorship. Not unlike the plight of Sun Ra, a
previous Earth visitor and fellow spaceway traveler, this Vulcan
radioman’s eccentricity might have caused some to overlook his
serious commitment to the jazz realm in our corner of the galaxy. Nonetheless, until the
Starship Improvise beamed
him up after March 27’s final edition of The Boundless Jazz Universe,
Spaak had—for eight years—made a weekly “trek” to WWUH from
his starport in eastern Connecticut. His unflinching dedication
didn’t earn him a dollar, nor were his contributions to our
station’s jazz mission acknowledged very often. And it’s not widely known
that the Jazz Officer has financed and produced numerous recordings
by area musicians as part of his overall support for the art form.
with the aid of WWUH Webmaster Chris Larson, he launched the New
England Jazz Radio Cooperative (NEJRC) last year, an online service
accessible via our jazz pages at the WWUH website (http://wwuh.org).
According to Spaak, NEJRC is an attempt to improve communication
between regional jazz stations, and to increase their visibility
within the global jazz media village. The site also contains an
extensive pronunciation guide, a very helpful device for jazz
announcers throughout this solar system. A musician’s birthday
database will be added soon. Although NEJRC has had a
less-than-auspicious start, a publicity campaign this summer will
hopefully hip more of our radio colleagues to its possibilities.
Spaak may have ventured “out of this world,” or at least beyond
the range of our airwaves, but his legions of fans need not worry;
he assures us he’ll be returning to planet Earth to do occasional
91.3 Morning Jazz fill-ins, and to assist with station concert
productions. We wish him well on his interstellar voyages; may
he...pardon the cliché...live long and prosper!
can listeners expect from the WWUH jazz posse in the near future?
Veteran Accent on Jazz
announcer Peter Michaelson has returned to the fold as Spaak's
successor in the Tuesday 9-midnight slot. I’ve assumed the jazz
director reigns, with ample assistance from Monday WWUH jazz host
Dean Hildebrandt. Rest assured that we will do our best to maintain
the standard of quality you have come to expect from our jazz
programs over the years.
broadcasts of maestro Brown’s Monday Night Jazz Series in Bushnell
Park will resume on 91.3 FM in July. A complete schedule will be
posted in our next program guide and at our website, as soon as it
is made available to us. Additionally, WWUH will again participate
as a media sponsor of the annual Litchfield Jazz Festival, scheduled
August 3-5 at the Goshen Fairgrounds. Throughout July, listen to our
jazz shows for special giveaways and interviews with selected
Litchfield festival musicians.
“The Music is
The above lyric, as delivered with ecstatic conviction by
Abbey Lincoln, kept repeating itself to me as I traipsed through the
woods moments ago. I’d become quite frustrated at my inability to
come up with a fitting conclusion for this piece, and the
persistence of this mantra-like refrain was annoying, as it seemed
to be distracting me from the matter at hand. Suddenly, it struck
me...that’s the very message I should be conveying—“the music really is the magic!”
That’s why we keep listening, that’s what draws us back, time
and time again.
was reminded of my very first visit to New Orleans, in April of last
year. My wife and I were viewing Louis Armstrong Park, once the site
of Congo Square, the only place where slaves had been allowed to
congregate for the purpose of playing musical instruments. I
imagined the release, the joy and the communion these people must
have felt as they reveled in the sharing of sounds and songs. Think
about it—the music that came to be known as jazz, at its very
core, is all about liberation. The best jazz frees our minds, bodies
as they might, none of those multi-national robber barons has yet to
capture the music’s heart and soul. They feed us pretty packaging,
24-bit digital remastering and pseudo-hip jam-band poseurs, but they
have no clue of how to handle the “real deal.” Ken Burns gave it
a good shot in his PBS series, but in fact, he barely scratched the
surface. Viewers got a nice taste of the spirit embodied in “the
ghosts of jazz past” (witness the subsequent boom in sales of
reissued material by deceased artists), but precious little insight
into the music as it exists today. Guess that’s up to those of us
who share it with you every day on the radio, in nightclubs and
concert halls, and yes, even in WWUH program guide articles.
As we acknowledge the 100th
birth anniversary of Louis Armstrong on August 4, let us listen
carefully for the gifts that Satchmo and countless others have given
us during the past century. And let us remember that each and every
one of us who enjoys this music has a responsibility to support the
artists who bring it to us, and to share the life-force of these
glorious sounds with others. Say Amen, Somebody!
Copyright©WWUH: May/June Program Guide, 2001