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Great Black Music On The Radio

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Well. you hear a recent Santana album and discover that the band has cliosen to record, amung others. a tune called "Welcome" written by someone named Jolin Coltrane. Or you're driving in vuur car listening to ('KLW and an instrumental called "Chameleon" by Herbie Hancock jumps out ;ii you and sets your lobos a 't ing) kr. "Soullinger" or "Love's Theme" weren't ever quite likc ihis. Perl ia ps you were down at the local finer record store and saw thal Jack Bruce performed on a bizarre-looking box sel dt iniisic callee! "Escalator Over The Uil!" wiih the Ja Coraposefs Orehestra. John McLaughlin, ('liick Corea, Miles I);ivis. LaVry Coryell, ind maiiy others are performïng somethirTg lalabeled "ja-rock" and yon decide it"s time to get to plain, "old", Jazz. Where do you gi). especially (f you haven't the bucks 01 incltnation to play hit-or-miss with the discs you're browsing at the store' To the radio, obviously, the new tribal drum. And in case you have been cruisin' the dial, and in vain. the SUN here offers a survey tliat establishes just where to t'ind the music that has become a tii st term in many of pur lives. First of all. be informed that you're going id be pi et i hard-pressed to Rnd a regular, substantial quantity of the real stuff on any commercial radio station. Ja programming is an alternative programming and for the most part (WABX, Detroit partially excepted) you've gol to go to non-commercial, public, or listenersupported radio for truly altemative listening. The essential reason for tliis, of course, is money. As Kenn Cox, Director of Developmeni aiul ('ommunity Access Programming at WDET-FM, public radio in Detroit, explained. "Public broadcastipg is often conceived of as a medium tbr cultural exchange. This desire manifests itself in a lot of "special-interest" or ethnic-oriented programming by indigenous programmers, such as shows by and for the Black community, or the Gay community, or a "Women's Hour" or... special jazz shows. ■ The folks that run commercial radio figure that that type of thing would aliénate the general populace which would in turn aliénate the advertisers and so these things get no air time." (Whetlier or not this assumption is in tact the case if' pretty much upen tu debate. Jazz doesn't sell because it isn't programmed commercially-people won't buy what they don't hear. Programmers and advertisers are arguing circularly who argüe that tliere's "no commercial poteotial" in jazz and tlius don't program it. A good idea would be for the radio folk to break up tliat circle at their point of entry and aciually test i commerciality by putting some on tlie air.) J.i. like any of the above-mentioned special-interest shows, has been and is a major part of a particular culture (Black) that lias been long-supressed. (Multi-instrumentalist Roland Kiik maintains that we don't hear j;i on the radio because it's simply too strong. The white fatcats in power know that it would be dangemus tbr all that sweet black magie to circuíate freely and give people hope.) In Detroit there are three or so blackowned and operated radio stations. WJZZ (105.9 FM) plays what they define as ja 24 hours a day. However. it isn't always jazz in the Aimstrong-Ellington-Parker-Coltrane mainstream, and even when it is, the tunes chosen to play are pretty low keypiano trio dates or some mediocre recent Sarah Vaughn bailad. They play a lol of r and r based stuff and their ultímate criterion as to a particular tune's airability is, basically, whether or not the artist involved is black. Slide down the dial to 101 .c) FM on ccrtain nights and you're into jazz-programming on a par with anything being done „ anywhere in the nation. The three shows which exclusively program jazz all have an in-depth historica! perspective. Bud Spangler's "Jazz Today", broadeast Monday evenings from "-'pm-lam and repeated Satín - day at midnite until 4am, emphasizes mude from the 60's through the present including artists like John Coltrane, Kric Dolphy, Miles Davis. Archie Shepp. Chick Corea, Charles Mingus. and many others, sprinkled with the best of the be-boppers and all thematically strung together by Spangler's helpful, pleasant commentary. Geoff Jacques does "Kaleidophone" on Saturday evenings from 5-8pm. This show is much like Bud's hut the emphasis is heavier on the 50's; Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie. Thelonius Monk, Tadd Dameion, etc. "Jazz Yesterday" is produced by the fanatical young Jim Gallert. Gallert has an outstanding collection of rare and delightt'ul discs of jazz iccorded mostly prior to 1950. He brings (hese discs and ;i knowledge and wit gleaned from many books on early jazz lifestylés to the airwaves every Thursday from d-Spin. WA8X, Detroit, al 99.5 FM, while having to deal with commercial considerations, has neyertheless found ii fitting to program a wide-ranging, well-produced jazz show by Warren Hanson on Sunday mornings from 2-6am. In addition, sevaral of the free-form dj's are turning more and more to jazz cuts. The happiest news to hit jazz listerrers in Ann Arbor is WCBN-FM's "Jazz 'Round Midnite". The student-run Univoisity of Michigan station programs jazz seven nights a week from I lprn-3am. Charlie Wolfson, jazz director at CliN. explained the reason tbr his particular, rather "pure", aesthetic bias, "Ann Arbor is a fairly hip community. There a lot of people here who are deeply interested in mainstream ja as opposed to fad ja, jazz-rock, or fringe jazz- Ramsey Lewis. Herbie Mann comrrrercially accepted music that is closer to jazz than anytbing else". Tavi Fulkerson, one of the few women programming jazz anywhere, points out that "Jazz 'Round Midnite" "isa real service to the community. We don't have to worry about selling it." Listener response is very strong and Tavi reports that, "people cali me up and cliat about jazz and then turn me on to things ['ve never heard before"! WCBN can be found at 88.3 MHz. lf you gei even half-way decent reception on your. radio, you might tune in WKAR, 90.5FM, from the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing on Sunday nights. Gary Laehn does an intense show that concentrates on the energy music of the mid-Sixties and beyond, from 10pm-2am. Tune in. strap in. and hokl on. It costs you nothing, almost, to get to the great music played on any of these programs and you miglit find the jazz experience priceless, indeed.