WRVR Jazz NY – Michael Franks

If you want to simulate a typical WRVR groove, just choose a track from any Michael Franks album that was in rotation during the station’s heyday. His collaboration with Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Larry Carlton of The Crusaders, the crossover cornerstone of ‘RVR, was more than a fortunate coincidence for fans of his laid-back style.

The result was Franks’ 1976 release, The Art of Tea, his second album, and first with Warner Bros. which featured many Frank’s classics: Nightmoves, Eggplant, Monkey See-Monkey Do, St. Elmo’s Fire, Jive, Popsicle Toes and Mr. Blue…there’s not a groove breaker in the bunch.

Here’s an odd-ball video of Michael Franks performing Monkey See-Monkey Do at the 1986 Newport Jazz Festival.

The Art of Tea was followed by Sleeping Gypsy, Burchfield Nines, Tiger in the Rain and One Bad Habit. Sleeping Gypsy included my personal Franks favorite, The Lady Wants to Know. Franks’ style might not appeal to everyone, but he’s still performing at 74, and was a big part of the WRVR sound.

WRVR Jazz NY – Phyllis Hyman

Much of the crossover appeal of WRVR was fueled by the great vocal performances featured on the station. I’m certain my first exposure to the unique style and talent of Phyllis Hyman was the regular airplay of her classic cover of the Stylistics single Betcha By Golly Wow, and choice selections from her popular third album, the 1979 release Somewhere In My Lifetime, which was co-produced and arranged by Barry Manilow.

Shortly thereafter, she starred on Broadway in Sophisticated Ladies, performing the compositions of Duke Ellington and earning her a Tony nomination. In 1986, Phyllis released her edgiest and most personal album, Living All Alone. I was fortunate to see her perform the songs on this album at a concert at Canandaigua Lake in upstate, New York in 1987. Phyllis often expressed her satisfaction with this work which fully showcased her artistic talents.

Here’s the original album version and video of the title track Living All Alone, followed by an incredible live performance from the old David Brenner show back in 1986, which includes a folksy and insightful interview with the host. I could watch this video a thousand times and still marvel at the richness of her voice and powerful raw emotion. Sadly, this song offered a window into Phyllis’ tortured soul. On June 30, 1995, Phyllis Hyman took her own life. She was only 45, and left behind a generational talent.

October 4, 2019 – I discovered an article that seeks to explain what led to Phyllis’ death:

ONE OF THE most persistent rumors after Phyllis Hyman’s suicide in 1995 was that she had been despondent over her love life.

That was an easy conclusion for fans to reach considering the pain-laced lyrics from some of her songs. But as always in life, the real reason the statuesque singer overdosed on sleeping pills at the age of 45 was far more complicated.

Full article from the Philadelphia Daily News

Somebody’s watching…

WordPress sent me a notification that I reached a milestone of sorts. My little counter button that tallies my followers finally hit 100. I actually surpassed that number a short time ago if you count the handful of Facebook friends and e-mail subscribers that follow my blog. I have amassed this enormous following in less than three years.


If this number was the only thing motivating me to continue writing, I would have abandoned this blog long ago. I can remember being stuck at 56 for the longest time, to the point where it was almost comical. More recently the counter taunted me with a big fat 98 that never moved. So, why am I here?

Once I built up some courage to share my thoughts here, I invited friends and family. For the most part, for whatever reason, most of my immediate family has shied away from reading my posts. However, if I had to choose one place in all of cyberspace to share my thoughts and feelings it would be WordPress. The talent and success of the community of writers both amazes me and humbles me, but at the same time, I find it to be a kind and positive, supportive and nurturing group of individuals. I look forward to the daily exchange of ideas and feedback.

Having expressed my appreciation to those of you who do read my posts, I would also like to reach out to others like me who may be discouraged by the apparent lack of interest. I stumbled upon my larger audience while poking around in the Stats section of WordPress. One particular post WRVR Jazz Radio New York caught the interest of a group of fellow fans of the long defunct jazz radio station in NYC.

WordPress stats

The key stat here was views, not likes, or follows, or even comments (although those came later as well). Not only were people actually visiting the page, I discovered another oddity that resulted from this interest in the old station: Google was driving the traffic. When I did a search of my own I discovered I had leap-frogged over every other page related to WRVR Jazz, or WRVR New York, including the Wiki page and all related YouTube videos. How’s that for blindfolded Search Engine Optimization?


Viewed on the overall scale of WordPress and the greater web universe, I am still talking about a miniscule audience, and owning some very narrow search terms. However, fans of the old station are still out there and the extra foot traffic to my site presents an opportunity for someone to give a peek to one of my related posts. Evidently, there is also a way to tweak the Permalink, but I’m not yet that brave. Bottom line, it is reassuring that there are those of you out there who care enough to visit my blog and take the time to share your thoughts and reminiscences. This has encouraged me to create additional posts related to appreciation of America’s gift to the arts. Thanks for keeping the memory of WRVR alive. To the rest of my blogger friends, just keep being true to your original motivation for writing and creating.

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