Archive for Radio

Bull City Party

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the excellent work that’s happening right here in the Jazz Loft Project’s administrative home town: Durham, The Bull City. This April, in particular, offers a lot of wonderful documentary work, much of it in kindred spirit to the JLP.

As part of the Bull City Soul Revival, an exhibition called “Soul Souvenirs: Durham’s Musical Memories from the 1960′s and 1970′s” opens tonight, April 19, at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC. Follow those links to read more about tonight’s opening event, featuring several veterans of Durham’s soul scene and next Friday’s concert with a similarly powerful lineup (April 27).

Simultaneously, at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, there’s another remarkable exhibition opening: “Full Color Depression: First Kodachrome’s From America’s Heartland.” It’s curated by Bruce Jackson and he’ll be in house to give a talk and sign his new book In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America (co-authored by Diane Christian and published by the University of North Carolina Press and CDS Books of the Center for Documentary Studies).

(And those are only the events with two miles of each other pertaining to tonight at 7pm. Looking forwards and backwards through this month, there’s more. A reminder for this similarly nearby exhibition opening showed up while I cobbled this entry. Fortunately, it starts at 4pm. )

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival happened here in Durham last weekend. The Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award went to an extraordinary film called Special Flight. This documentary focuses on a Swiss detention center in Frambois, where a group of immigrants live in purgatory after they’ve been denied requests for asylum while they await a (forcible) “Special Flight” away from a country that had become their true home. It shows another sort of “timeless time” or placeless place.

Full Frame also featured a new documentary with a direct tangent to the Jazz Loft Project. Radio Unnameable covered the career of late night NYC DJ Bob Fass, whose shows W. Eugene Smith often recorded. I talked with Fass on the telephone about a year ago and he alluded to a friendship with Smith. It’s not surprise that Smith would gravitate to a kindred-spirited night owl. On Smith’s tapes, there’s one night when Smith was listening to Fass’s radio show, Radio Unnameable. Smith left the recorder running and made his way to the station, onto the airwaves, and back onto his own tape that was being recorded in his loft. Smith went to the radio station for a number of reasons that night. He wanted to bring Fass a Peter LaFarge record that couldn’t be found at WBAI. The record was one of thousands in Smith’s collection and he wanted to support  folk singer Peter LaFarge, who was Fass’s guest that night. And it’s clear on the tape that LaFarge is struggling with whether or not he will sing again,k among other things. Smith had met LaFarge during the singer’s childhood while visiting New Mexico on another project. Fass interviews Smith, who facilitates a live performance by LaFarge, and they all wind up on Smith’s reel-to-reel tape in the Jazz Loft Project collection. I touched on it here.

Where can you find a similar collection of visual arts, spoken word, and musicians these days? Next week, in Durham: The Center for Documentary Studies and The Hinge will launch Professor Diablo’s True Review at the Casbah club on Tuesday, April 24. Then you’ll be able to check out the Bull City Soul Revival on Friday the 27th. This week you’ll have to choose between some great events. Next week you can go to both. There’s a lot more happening in Durham this month. If you can’t attend the events, there is plenty to take in by exploring the website links above. To quote Smith, “I’m saying it very badly.” But the word is out.  So many worthy projects may seem like a rambling list in this blog entry. These events, exhibitions, and books can’t be contained summarily in a blog’s box. They need to be experienced in depth, in real time where they might truly live and breathe.

-Dan Partridge

(At last weekend’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, there was also a documentary about letterpress printing called Kiss the Paper. Head down to Durham’s own letterpress studio,  Horse & Buggy Press for Maji Moto: Dispatches from a Drought to see their shop, new book, beautifully pressed broadsides, and exhibit).

Bull City Party!

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Two New Interviews with Sam Stephenson this Week

Here’s one in print on All About Jazz dot com.

Here’ s the other on radio from Occidental, CA.

Special note is made of the All About Jazz interview in which a discussion of JLP Research Associate Dan Partridge’s work over seven years is a highlighted.  Interviewer Victor Schermer did a nice, thoughtful job on this.

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Late Night Radio

In the month of February WNYC is treating us with The Jazz Loft Anthology, rebroadcasts of Sara Fishko’s amazing 10-part series.  Her assembled segments are running every Monday night in February at 10pm.  We love this nocturnal schedule.  I’d estimate that 80% of Smith’s tape work was done after dark, maybe more.  Virtually all of the jazz sessions were at night – or deep morning.  Even when he was recording things off radio and TV, or when he was recording phone calls or random loft sounds, most of the time it was at night.  Maybe that’s when he was drinking the most scotch and pounding amphetamine pills?  Maybe it was simpler than that; maybe the most unique sounds are at night.  The daytime is normal; amateur hour.  Who knows?

This appeals to me.  I spend a lot of time listening to WFAN sports radio out of New York City late at night.  For twenty years we’ve been able to pick it up down here in North Carolina after dark.  Other than the summer of 1988 I’ve never lived in New York but I’ve felt at home there since I was fourteen.  I’ve made ninety-three trips to the city as part of this project.  Back home, almost every night I listen to at least a few minutes of WFAN.  It connects me to the city.  Sometimes it’s right before I go to bed.  Other times it’s 3am when I’m suddenly awake and trying to fall back to sleep.  WFAN’s nighttime hosts Steve Somers and Tony Paige are sublime.  Somers is a brilliant comedian.  Sometimes Paige will have legendary, 83 year-old saxophonist Lou Donaldson call into his show in the wee hours after Lou is done with a gig at the Village Vanguard.  Lou will talk about the gig but more often they talk about baseball or boxing or whatever.  Lou was a highly regarded third baseman in a semi-pro Negro league in his hometown of Badin, North Carolina.  Hearing them makes you glad to be alive and awake.  I hope their conversations are being recorded and preserved.

Sara Fishko and I once had a conversation about WFAN.  It’s one of the places where vernacular is alive and well.  24 hour sports radio was considered preposterous before WFAN began circa 1988.  Now every city has at least one all-sports station.  Here in Raleigh-Durham we have two excellent ones with top notch local sports talk.

Sara told me she had the idea one time of a 24-hour arts talk radio station.  There’d be some planned programming, concerts, etc., the same way sports talk stations have live games.  But the arts station would be mostly interview and live call-in shows.  I got excited about this.  Can you imagine some fanatic in Queens or the Bronx calling into the station at 3am to argue over whether some unknown viola player in Argentina was better than the terrific Lesley Robertson of the St. Lawrence String Quartet?  It would be fantastic.

-Sam Stephenson

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JLP on NPR’s Weekend Edition

For the next four Sundays, beginning December 6, Sara Fishko’s brilliant radio series will be featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Program.

What a nice public gift for the holiday season.  Enjoy.

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Radio Series Begins Today

The Jazz Loft Project radio series begins today on WNYC radio.  Episodes will be available online each day.  Listen here.


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