My exposure to WRVR was during the station’s second act, after the sale to Sonderling Broadcasting Corp. in 1975. The earlier jazz broadcasts from Riverside Church were hosted by the legendary Ed Beach. His Just Jazz series of programs from the early 60’s to mid 70’s have been preserved in their entirety and are to be included in the aforementioned archives of historic recordings from WRVR. Fans of Beach recognize Just Jazz as the archetype for all great jazz programming.
Just Jazz focused on a single influential jazz artist, with classic recordings introduced by Beach and connected by the deejay’s wealth of background information on the musicians, their influences and the key elements to each composition. Each broadcast was a Master’s-level course in Jazz Appreciation.
I had to search hard to uncover one complete broadcast, this episode featuring Billie Holiday. The link provided will allow you to download the program in its entirety. I’m not sure why all of Beach’s broadcasts are not available through NPR or similar channels, but this representative sample is my introduction to the early days at WRVR.
Billie Holiday Just Jazz with Ed Beach
I’ve always been a fan of Billie Holiday, and the story of her sad life has been well documented in literature and film. Below is a quick taste to lead in to the WRVR program. I hope you’ll take the time to experience America’s native contribution to the art world.
I grew up listening to Ed Beach on WRVR every morning and evening. I was introduced to the show by my father and he and I bonded over listening to Ed Beach during my teenage years. I was so missing the show, that when I went to college in 1972, the first place I went was directly to WWUH, the University of Hartford’s student radio station, and asked to do a show called “Just Jazz’ dedicated to Ed Beach. I had no experience, I was a freshman, but somehow they said that they would try me out. I was on for around 3 years. I had quite a following and met a number of jazz fans along the way.
I miss the format of Ed Beach’s show — nobody does it like him. Period.
I’m glad I was born when I was, so I could enjoy his live show on WRVR. He kept me getting up in the morning for years and gave me knowledge and help cultivate my love for jazz that I had, even before I discovered the King — Ed Beach. He will always live.
Thanks for the memories Paul, and for your part in keeping the art form alive. Ed Beach was a walking encyclopedia of Jazz. As I was about to draw a comparison to the great voice and historian of Jazz on NPR, Phil Schaap, I discovered he passed away yesterday at the age of 70. This is a terrible loss for the Jazz world. He will be greatly missed.
Ahh.. Phil Schapp — I listened to him as well — he was too ‘wordy’ for my father ( who introduced me to ‘Just Jazz’. I’ ll be mourning Mr. Schapp this morning. No real jazz radio left, unless you find a jazz streaming station on the web — but I did find a ‘Just Jazz’ CD that someone made for me some years ago, and listened to that two-parter from beginning to end.
I was addicted to Ed Beach’s theme song, and when I met him in the 1970’s , shortly before he left WRVR, he told me it was Wes Montgomery. The album wasn’t in print for many years — kept looking for it, and finally found it. I still have my vinyl collection from the 1960-s and 70’s. The album is ‘Moving on’ Wes Montgomery (I think) — great album.
Wes Montgomery was great with an immediately recognizable sound and style.
Paul, have you discovered Jazz radio.com? If not, I would highly recommend downloading the app and giving it a listen. My favorite is the Hard Bop channel.
NOW I have .. thanks for this .. listening to ‘Timeless Classics” .. no Ed Beach’s voice .. but still good 🙂
I’ll try the Hard Bop channel too .. Thank you!