Sunday, August 19, 2007

August 19, 2007 We'll be Missing Max Roach
I was saddened to hear of the death of Max Roach on Thursday, August 16th. When I brag on the contribution NC has made to the national and international jazz scene, Max Roach is easily one of the top names on my list. He was from a small town New Land, NC in the Great Dismal Swamp area, up near the Virginia border. He was the best and he played with the best. He was one of the initiators of the beat to go with bebop. To learn more about Max Roach, go to YouTube and search on his name, and you will see a great collection of documentary film clips of him playing.

For my radio show tonight, I pulled on CDs that included Max Roach on drums. I had such a great time. Some new friends stopped by the WCOM radio station to help me select the songs for my show and announce them. I thank Bill, Lyle, and Hart for helping out. We all got together to talk about LP (low power) stations and how WCOM got started and future plans we have to grow. In order to grow, we need people skilled in development. Right now we are getting by on a shoe string and have basic needs for improved equipment. Tonight - of the three CD players we have, two of them were not working. So please help out if you can.

Playlist -
  • Nina Simone (b. Tryon, NC); Anthology CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
  • Max Roach (b. New Land, NC); 3/4 Time CD; I'll Take Romance & Blues Waltz & Lover
  • Miles Davis & Max Roach; Blue Note CD; Budo
  • Dizzy Gillespie (h.s. Laurinberg, NC) & Max Roach; Groovin' High CD; Little John Special
  • Charlie Parker & Max Roach; Charlie Parker CD; Song is You & Cardboard
  • Sonny Rollins & Max Roach; Saxophone Collosus CD; You Don't Know What Love Is & Blue 7
  • Charlie Parker & Max Roach; Original Recordings of Charlie Parker CD; Casey Blues
  • Miles Davis & Max Roach; The Best of Miles Davis CD; Godchild
  • Charlie Parker & Max Roach; Charlie Parker - Ken Burns Jazz CD; Ko-Ko
  • Elvis Presley; Elvis Gospel CD; I Believe in the Man in the Sky - August 16th marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis.
  • Billy Taylor (b. Greenville, NC); Music Keeps Us Young CD; I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free
Tonight we are saying good-bye to Donald, of D.J. Smooth Jazz, who has hosted the Welcome to the Smooth jazz show on WCOM for the summer. He was holding the place for Will Vizuete who has been gone but has returned and will start back next Sunday. Will will be in the 3:00 - 5:00 slot of the Sunday jazz programming on WCOM with his Jazz Incognito show. Donald did a great job of filling right in and giving a lot of heart and soul to the station and adding to the diversity of the Sunday jazz line-up. We hope Donald will be back soon as both a sub and hopefully in a new spot for him to return to WCOM into a regular spot. Thanks, Don, and hope to see you again soon.

I had a surprise drop in visit late in my show of Avram and Eli Stein Eichner, brought to the WCOM studio by their dad, Eric Stein. Avram surely will end up being a WCOM dj, following in the footsteps of his dad. Avram helped me announce several songs and told about his vacation time in Maine with all his counsins and aunts and uncles and grandmother and granddad. He was lucky to miss the terrible hot temps we've been having in the high 90s and low 100s - oh my.

I end my blog with a story that Larry Thomas shared with me about an incredible encounter he had with Max Roach. "On a cold February night in 2000, I attended a play at St. Marks Playhouse on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan. During intermission, I ran into Max Roach in the theatre. He was moving a little slowly and his sight was somewhat failing him at the time. Yet, his serious look and strong presence let me know that I was among royalty. "Hey, Max, how you doing?" I asked. "Great!" he answered. He didn't know who I was, but he stopped and we had a conversation about jazz and I told him how I loved his music, especially his Freedom Now Suite. "You know," he said, "the main thing I remember about those sessions was that Mr. Coleman Hawkins was there before anybody else. (Max insisted on calling on other jazz musicians by including 'Mister' in their names.) He was always there early, dressed to the nines, ready to play. That made us all feel good because he really thought that recording was important." Near the end of our conversation, I told Max that I was a North Carolina native and would be going back home soon. For the first time, he smiled a big smile and said he was a 'Carolina boy', too! And that he loved Carolina. "I'm from the Dismal Swamp - New Land - Nat Turner country! Tell everybody hello and that I love them!"

We love you, too, Max, and we'll miss you most dearly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August 12, 2007 Celebrating the Best of NC Jazz Musicians
It was another hot summer night. Luckily I was joined in the studio by Solomon Gibson III to talk jazz stories and help me pick out my selections. Solomon hosts the earlier jazz show on WCOM, Backbone, from 5:00 - 7:00 each Sunday evening. I don't know anyone who loves jazz music more than Solomon - he lives and breaths it.

As usual, I began the evening with over 30 CDs spread out on the table - with a special focus on NC jazz musicians. I always begin and end my show with Billy Taylor's most popular song, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free. Billy Taylor was born and raised in Greenville, NC. I start my show with Nina Simone singing Billy's song - Nina was born and raised in Tryon, NC. I end with Billy Taylor at the piano playing his song.

I hope all of you will join me at the upcoming jazz music festival, Following Monk at Duke University. The festival honors the 90th birthday of arguably one of NC's finest contributor to the world of jazz music - Thelonius Monk, who was born in Rocky Mount, NC. There will be six weeks of great music. What a great way to celebrate the genius of Monk!

Playlist for the evening -
  • Nina Simone (b. Tryon, NC); Anthology CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
  • Gene Harris; Live at the IT Club CD; On Green Dolphin Street
  • Thelonius Monk (b. Rocky Mounty, NC); Thelonius Himself CD; April in Paris
  • Bill Evans; Sunday at the Village Vanguard CD; Gloria's Step
  • Thelonius Monk; Plays Duke Ellington CD; Caravan
  • Professor Longhair; Rum & Coke CD; Gone So Long
  • Marcia Ball; Presumed Innocent CD; Scene of the Crime
  • Scott Warner (lived Chapel Hill, NC); Wild Man Blues CD; Pine Apple Rag
  • Modern Jazz Quartet, including Percy Heath (b. Wilmington, NC); Django CD; Django
  • Stanley Turrentine; On a Misty Night CD; That's the Way of the World
  • Gregg Gelb Swing Band (Sanford, NC); Too Darn Hot CD; Too Darn Hot
  • Mary Lou Williams (lived in Durham, taught at Duke U.); Mama Pinned a Rose on Me CD; The Blues (with Cynthia Tyson singing, from Durham, NC)
  • Frankie Alexander (lives Durham, NC); Mad About the Words CD; I Loves You, Porgy
  • Frank Kimbrough (b. Roxboro, NC); Kimbrough Play CD; Beginning
  • Jackie MeLean (went to school, Greensboro, NC A&T); Destination Out CD; Riff Raff
  • Jim Beckwith (lives Chapel Hill, NC) with Native Vibe; Step Right Shake Left CD; Arizona Skies
  • Mahlon Hoard, Tyson Rogers, & Rick Lassiter (all lived in Chapel Hill area); The Land Outside CD; Turnaround
  • Charlie Haden & Hampton Hawes; As Long as There is Music CD; Turnaround
  • Billy Taylor (b. Greenville, NC); Music Keeps Us Young CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
Please join me on WCOM each Sunday night from 7:00 - 9:00 for the best NC jazz sounds and its musicians. In the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area you can catch me on the dial at 103.5 fm. You can listen in from anywhere in the world by going to the internet and hitting on the WCOM website, and clicking on the upper right-hand corner button to access web-streaming. On the web, you can catch me from anywhere in the world!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

August 5, 2007 Hot Summer Jazzy Night
I rode my bike to the WCOM radio studio to do my weekly show, featuring NC jazz musicians. It was a hot, steamy one out there, reminiscent of the movie Body Heat. No one appeared to be out. But the show will go on and I was happy to share music from some of my favorite CDs. Jen and Able from Durham stopped by to say 'hi' and check out the WCOM studio, cozy spot that it is. They helped me pick out some good songs.

Playlist -
  • Nina Simone (b. Tryon, NC); Anthology CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
  • Frankie Alexander (lives Durham, NC); Mad about the Words CD; Moonlight in Vermont
  • Mary Lou WIlliams (lived in Durham, NC); Mama Pinned a Rose on Me CD; The Blues
  • Charles Lloyd: Lift Every Voice CD; Amazing Grace
  • Thelonius Monk (b. Rocky Mount, NC); Thelonius Monk Plays Duke Ellington CD; It Don't Mean a Thing
  • Charlie Haden & Hank Jones; Steal Away CD: Wade in the Water
  • Dave Youngman Quartet (lives Raleigh, NC); Ususal Suspects CD; Summertime
  • Robert Trowers (lives & teaches, Durham, NC); Synopsis CD; Synopsis
  • Martin Eagle (lives Durham, NC); The Hipster CD; Always You
  • Baron Tymas (lives & teaches, Durham, NC); Blues for the Tribe CD; Broken Bottles
  • Scott Warner (lived Chapel Hil, NC); Mindfield CD; Mindfield
  • Madeleine Peyroux; Careless Love CD; Dance Me to the End of Love
  • Gabriel Pelli (lives Carrboro area); Europa Jazz CD; I Cover the Waterfront with Katharine Whalen on vocals (Durham, NC)
  • Cesaria Evora; Sao Vicente CD; Tiempo Y Silencio
  • Paulo Lopes (lives Chapel Hill, NC); Brazilian Soul CD; So Quero Um Xodo
  • Adia Ledbetter (lives Durham, NC); First Take; You Don't Know What Love Is
  • Baby Laurence; Dancemaster CD; Baby at Birdland
  • Yusuf Salim (lives Durham, NC); Yusuf Plays Yusuf CD; My Inlaws are Outlaws
  • Brian Horton (lives and teaches, Durham, NC); Walking Tall CD; There There Now
  • Al Neese (lives Greensboro, NC); The Omen Seeker CD; Wood Heat
  • Billy Taylor (b. Greenville, NC); Music Keeps Us Young CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free (song by Billy Taylor and played by him)
Rocco stopped by to say hello. Rocco is a WCOM dj, and hosts the Saturday morning show, 9:00 - 12:00, Music Hall. Rocco has over 40 years of radio dj work and experience assisting jazz, rock, and blues singers as they passed through eastern North Carolina. Rocco plays the best music of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and on up. One can find plenty of music to enjoy when Rocco is on the air. He claims to be the owner of over 1000 CDs.

I'm sorry to say farewell, even if just for a while, to my good friend and a great friend of WCOM's, Chris Frank. Chris gave tirelessly to this 100 Watts of Wonder community-powered radio station. I don't know how we could have made it this far without him, and I don't know how we will continue to grow and prosper without him. But we wish him well. He is now in NYC working on a play, Lone Star Love, with other members of the Red Clay Ramblers, which will open in Seattle in September; then in NYC in November, with the official opening in December. This is a great opportunity for Chris to share his talents with a large audience - but we'll miss him on the ole home front. We look forward to his return - even if just for a visit..... always keep the show going.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

July 29, 2007 Glenn & Much Much More
When I invited Glenn Mehrbach to be a guest on my show, I knew it was going to be a terrific show - it was that and much, much more. Glenn is a great talent as a piano player, composer, teacher and singer. Just his playing would have been enough - but instead Glenn chose to share the spotlight with four singers - Kristin Grillo, Ellen Ciompi, Sharon Szymanski and Deborah Klinger. His son, Lennon, came along for the fun and hopefully will join in the singing next time.
Hailing from NY, Glenn found his way to LA, where he performed and wrote for many years and would annually make the return trek to NYC to perform at the Olgonquin Hotel. He eventually made his way to the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area where he continues to perform and also raise, with his wife Deborah Klinger, his son Lennon. Glenn continues to perform all types of music in his capacity as Musical Director at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Chapel Hill and Director of the Chorale Society of Duke University; and as a pianist playing all types of music in the greater Triangle area of North Carolina. We are all enhanced by his gifts and talents.
One of the singers Glenn invited to join him in the WCOM radio studio was Kristin Grillo. Kristin is a recent graduate of Duke University and is now headed up to the Boston area, where she will attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where she will continue her study of voice. She has a beautiful voice and Glenn assigned her some great jazz standards to perform. These included - What's It Like Inside Your Head?, It Might As Well Be Spring, On the Sunny Side of the Street, Time after Time, and Spring is Here. I wish Kristin well and fully expect she is someone we will be hearing more from. Hopefully she will always be able to find her way back home to NC, even if just for visits - but I wish her the best as she starts her journey up North.

Glenn also invited Ellen Ciompi to join us. Ellen lives in Durham and performs as a singer with Leon Jordan & His Continentals - a Raleigh-based 14-member "big band". Ellen can be reached at She performed a diverse set of songs, including Something's Coming, You Can't Say No to a Soldier, One More Minute, and Fun to be Perfect. Her version of One More Minute, a "weird" Al Yankovic song, was performed with great emotion, gusto and humor. I also enjoyed her interpretation of Fun to be Perfect, sung with great sarcasm, and was originally recorded by The Four Bitchin' Babes. I look forward to catching Ellen with Leon Jordan's Big Band.
Sharon Szymanski is a highly successful singer and voice teacher and runs a voice school in the Chapel Hill area. Sharon has a powerful voice that is most comfortable performing opera. However, she loves all music and enjoys performing songs of many genres. On my show, Sharon performed A Route to the Sky, Amor, Early in the Morning, and Summertime. Sharon can be reached at Szymanski Studios in Chapel Hill, NC at 919-960-6898,
Also joining us was Deborah Klinger, who is a singer and improv theatre performer. She performs with the improv troup, called inDecision Theater - If You're Looking For Improv, We're iT! They perform in the Triangle Area. Deborah performed the following songs - Ya Don't Like Baseball, in duet with Glenn; A Married Man, with Glenn singing his thoughts on the ups and downs of married life and joined by all the singers, and LJKM, a song written for and performed for Deborah and Glenn's son, Lennon.

Interspersed in the evenings wonderfully diverse music, I played from two CDs. One featured the singing of Andrea Marcovicci, who Glenn performed with for many years. I also played Jen Zias, performing Glenn's song, Wild Nights!, from her CD Take Me with You.

As always, I had a wonderful evening and was glad to share such great music. Please join me every Sunday night from 7:00 - 9:00 EST in the WCOM radio studio, or catch me on the dial in the Carrboro, NC area at 103.5 FM (low power) or anywhere in the world by going to the web at My show always features the music of NC jazz musicians and much, much more.

Emma and Emily dropped by the WCOM studio during my show to enjoy the music.