People Who Get Me Excited About Public Radio and Serious Music

People Who Get Me Excited About Public Radio and Serious Music

I have said a number of times that I have no musical training, no courses in music in college, I do not even remember any music classes in grade school. My exposure to serious music, mostly classical, was because of my father. My exposure to jazz was because of my wife.

So, I owe a great deal to a number of people in PubRadio, and recently the “blogosphere”.

First, two people, I list them alphabetically but really together, Stephen Hill of Hearts of Space and John Schaefer of WNYC. The first program I can remember at HOS is PGM 15, “Cello Deeps” which originally aired April 6, 1983. I do not think I heard that version. I heard a later version, probably in 1985. That program has never left my consciousness. I can only think back to John’s New Sounds programs from about 1985. I clearly remember the week-end two hour shows, especially the broadcast premier of Steve Reich’ Desert Music. John’s no longer new show, Soundcheck is sometimes a bit to “Indie” for me, but John is a more well-rounded individual than am I. Both of these people have been beyond generous with their time for me, more letters and email than I can describe. They even helped me to select works of Tangerine Dream when I went all digital at home.

David Garland at WNYC, I have elsewhere described as one of two towering geniuses on Public Radio, the other being John S. I have never had any sort of relationship with David. But the breadth of what he does in music on the radio in a few hours is stunning. And, when I chose to ask him about the pronounciation of Henryk Gorecki’s last name (gor-ets-ky), David mailed me a page from a dictionary of Slavic pronouncations. I recently recorded David’s conversation with John Zorn on Ear-To-Ear. It helped me to humanize a very complex musician.

Philip Blackburn at American Composers’ Forum (ACF) has been a good friend since the day I could not get Innova streams on Live365 to load in my player. When I emailed, Philip replied with help. I said, hey, I know that name. I recognized it from the American Mavericks project of Minnesota Public Radio . I told Philip about the 550 page book I had built out of the essays and text interviews from this project. I told him that I had recorded all of the audio interviews. I guess I made an impression. Philip has been as good a friend as he can be, very generous with his time, for someone maybe 1500 miles away. As I said, Innova, the label of ACF has stream at Live365. And guess what? They sell CD’s by their very talented artists. They also put their product up on Amazon in .mp3. Also, Philip has done two sets of interviews of current musicians and composers, “Measure For Measure” and “Alive And Composing“. These are of special interest to me as my pledge, if you will, is to support living composers.

Very important in my coming alive to jazz, re-awakening the interest that my wife started back in 1964, is Steve Rowland. Steve did two radio projects that I heard on WNYC, “The Miles Davis Radio Project”, and “Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone”, obviously about John Coltrane. I “met” Steve much in the same way I met Philip. I couldn’t get some downloads to work. Steve was incredibly helpful with that and then gave me unmeasured amounts of his time in beginning my Jazz library. That library is now over 50 gigs. 50 gigs!! It really started not in jazz, but rather in classical music, with Steve’s project “Leonard Bernstein: An American Life”. That was the project I was originally trying to get by download.

Some people at WPRB, Public Radio in Princeton, NJ, have been very important for me. First and foremost in classical music is Maestro Marvin Rosen. Marvin knows more about very new and very old music than anyone has any right to know. He especially knows the music coming out of the Baltic States, Poland, and the rest of Eastern Europe. He introduced me to Alan Hovhaness, for which I am grateful. Marvin is a force.

In jazz at WPRB are two incredibly knowledgeable people, Dan Buskirk and Will Constantine. Maybe it is just that they play the sub-genres of jazz that I like. But they have both cost me money as I add their suggestions to my jazz library.

They say that nobody likes a critic. Well, I really like two critics: Greg Sandow and Kyle Gann. Greg is possibly the deepest thinker who writes on the future of classical music. I never miss his weblog posts. Kyle wrote the essays for American Mavericks. I have had a fair amount of contact with Greg. I built another book, over 800 printed pages, from his collected criticism. I have had only a little contact with Maestro Gann; but the little contact I have had has been rewarding. Another critic I never miss, now with his RSS feed, is Alan Rich. I believe that Alex Ross described Alan as the “dean of American music critics”. Alan is in his eighties and his writing is sharp, funny, very interesting. I don’t think Alan stays home very much. He seems always to be at some concert or other in the Los Angeles area.

I am able to follow these critics because of their use of RSS feeds. They are writing weblogs. Others in this “blogosphere” are Mike Janssen and Marty Ronish at Scanning the Dial. Both of these people, like John S. and david G above, are Radio people. They live and breathe Radio.

Some other folks I have “met” are: Ken Field, whose Revolutionary Snake Ensemble is one terrific New Orleans style jazz band; Danny Felsenfeld, whose tribute to Leonard Bernstein was so delicate; Thurston Briscoe, Josh Jackson, and Dave Tallacksen who together make WBGO run smoothly; Terrance McKnight has been a wonderful addition to WNYC’s music world; Joe Jacobs and Leyla Hill at HOS are willing and able to help poor me when I cannot figure things out for myself; Chris Campbell is ready to help at Innova; Jon Solomon, is he still the major domo at WPRB/ I remember his webcast of his marathon.

So, this is quite a list, culled from every record I could find on two computers. I owe these people a great deal, because serious music and Public Radio are my twin passions.