Sunday night's survey of modern mainstream jazz, "Jazz Ballads & Blues," spotlights great instrumentalists like Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Milt Jackson, Grant Green, John Coltrane, and Horace Silver, and great vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Chris Connor, Kurt Elling, Diana Krall, and the Four Freshmen. Every week, those great artists, and many more, including jazz's newest stars, play and sing everything from jazz classics and Broadway and Tin Pan Alley ballads to modern pop and rock tunes to the basic twelve bar blues. The emphasis of "Jazz Ballads & Blues" is on swing, lyricism, and melody. The songs I play are those that you’ve enjoyed all your life. And the jazz versions of those songs I play are highly accessible and enjoyable yet hip, smart, and sophisticated, and, almost always, tinged with the blues. I began hosting "Jazz Ballads & Blues" in June of 2006 after the original host of 32 years, and my good friend, Joe DiGiorgio, died. The show is modeled on what I heard and the resulting feeling I got when I listened to Joe’s jazz shows which I started doing when I was finishing high school in around 1962. There were very few weeks during that time that I missed his weekly shows, except when I went away to law school in Washington, DC.
Here is some information about me: I've been an attorney for 39 years. I'm from Erie, and I moved back here in 1972 after attending law school in Washington DC and working for several years at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Shortly after moving back to Erie, I became an assistant District Attorney for Erie County and served as such for several years before becoming a full-time private law-practitioner.
Josie and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary on November 7th, 2009. We have no children. When my program, "Bop ‘n The Blues," started, and over the years since then, Josie made for me a bunch of delightful promos for the show based upon our real life experiences (her fascination with bingo; the confusion over the name of my show--Was it "Bop 'n The Blues" or, as many thought, "Bob and The Blues"?; Josie's order to me to "come straight home" after the show; etc.). Anyway, I haven't been running those promos much lately because I have been concentrating on running the promos for all the other jazz and blues shows on WQLN, which shows deserve much greater notoriety. Besides her promos, Josie's help to me and WQLN comes from her willingness to participate, on my show, in every membership drive that we've had since my program began. She has an exceptional radio voice and a great conversational style that I wish that I had. Consequently, our fund-raising success on "Bop 'n The Blues" is due in great part to her efforts.
I put together my two shows on a weekly basis by myself. The format for the show is mine, for better or for worse. I'm sure Josie has her own opinions about the music I choose and about the format of my show, but she's too busy (she's President of a local title insurance company) to more than occasionally make her views known. In the early 1980's, I began hosting a jazz program on WQLN called "All That Jazz" on Friday nights at 8pm (my current day and time) pursuant to a request from Paul Brown for volunteers. He scheduled a meeting at which I volunteered to host the Friday night version of "All That Jazz" (it ran Monday thru Fridays). I volunteered on a Tuesday night, as I remember. He startled me by telling me I would host my first show in three days. He showed my the broadcast board and I nearly had a heart attack. He said, "You'll have no problem, you'll do just fine," and I've been trying to reach those goals for more than 25 years. In 1995, the first host of a WQLN blues show ( a professor from Edinboro who called himself, I believe, "Dr. Blues) took a teaching position in the Baltimore area. I had previously told our director of radio, Tom McLaren, that if a choice time-slot opened up (I was then hosting "Jazz Ballads & Blues 'Round Midnight" on WQLN at--you guessed it--Saturday midnight) to let me know. Tom called me and told me of the good news and the bad. I was to be the new host of the Friday night blues show, but, on the other hand, he knew I knew nothing about the blues. Well, I took the gig and I've managed to stay one week ahead of my listeners ever since. When I was growing up (I was born on September 7, 1944) my mother used the radio to entertain me and keep me quiet. I heard the big bands, I heard swing music, I heard all the big band singers. I know the lyrics to most all of the great American popular songs. As I grew, I listened to shows like "The Green Hornet," "Sky King," "The Lone Ranger," "No School Today" (featuring Big John & Sparkie) and "Inner Sanctum", all movies for the mind, and I became quite devoted to radio. Later, I heard Bill Haley & The Comets, Elvis, and Fats Domino and fell in love with rock and roll (which I now know to be the "blues").
My first true love (other than my wife) is jazz. But I've been having an exciting affair with the blues ever since I first heard Elvis sing "Hound Dog." The blues, to me, is party music for the walking wounded. Those who suffer much want to thumb their noses at their sources of pain by dancing and pretending, at least until the music stops, that it "doesn't bother them." And the pain stops while they're stomping their feet, waving their arms, and shouting at the top of their lungs to the sounds of a rhythmic electric guitar responding to the thump of a stand-up bass. So, there you have it, blues is music that gets you up and dancing and that salves your soul. How could you not love it? By the way, I listen to WQLN radio constantly and have been doing so for at least 30 years. I think the station is one of our community’s greatest assets. I love all the programs WQLN airs throughout the day, especially the news programs and the locally produced music shows I listen to each and every music show on the station and I think the classical, jazz, and blues hosts are some of the best in the country.