WRVR Jazz NY – RNC Theme Song

In honor of the awe inspiring Republican National Convention, I profoundly present to our listeners a song from the days when America was great, when WRVR was broadcasting on the New York airwaves, Donald Trump was following in the footsteps of his father Fred, demolishing some of New York City’s finest architectural landmarks, and when men were men, women were women and, like minorities and foreigners, knew their place.

This classic, Your Mind Is on Vacation from Mose Allison, could have served as the theme song for the RNC that mercifully concluded after four mind-numbing nights.

Your Mind Is on Vacation

Mose Allison

You’re sitting there yakkin’ right in my face
I guess I’m gonna have to put you in your place
Y’know if silence was golden
You couldn’t raise a dime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

You’re quoting figures, you’re dropping names
You’re telling stories about the dames
You’re always laughin’ when things ain’t funny
You try to sound like you’re big money
If talk was criminal, you’d lead a life of crime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

You know that life is short and talk is cheap
Don’t be making promises that you can’t keep
If you don’t like the song I’m singing, just grin and
Bear it
All I can say is if the shoe fits wear it
If you must keep talking please try to make it rhyme
‘Cause your mind is on vacation and your (big) mouth is working

WRVR Jazz NY – Weather Report

In times like these we could all use a little fusion. Crossing over into different genres and  borrowing elements from diverse cultures have always been key elements in jazz composition and improvisation. Fusion takes many forms in jazz, whether it is the incorporation of classical style in the music of the Modern Jazz Quartet, or John Coltrane’s jazz interpretation of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music movie soundtrack.
Jazz Fusion in the 70’s most commonly referred to the melding of jazz and rock elements and instrumentation. Bands like Return To Forever, and artists like Larry Carlton represented the progressive philosophy that filled the ‘RVR playlist. The band that may have best defined “fusion” was Weather Report.
Weather Report was built on a solid traditional jazz foundation. At the time the group was formed in 1970 it featured Austrian-born keyboardist and composer Joe Zawinul who was best known for his 1966 composition Mercy, Mercy, Mercy while he was a member of Cannonball Adderley’s band. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy was a rare jazz live recording that became a crossover hit and got extensive airplay on popular stations across the country. It peaked at #2 on the Soul chart and #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. I vividly recall this tune from my childhood.

The other cornerstone of the group was Wayne Shorter, already an impressive figure in jazz as composer and saxophonist for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis’ seminal fusion quintet. Shorter’s sound was greatly influenced by the hard tenors he grew up listening to such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, but he soon developed his own unique style–spare and penetrating. His approach to soloing was in sync with Joe Zawinul and formed the philosophy of the Weather Report sound. As Joe Zawinul noted, “No one solos, we all solo. Even solo sections merge solo line with other melodic parts.”
Perhaps the most enigmatic member of the group was bassist Jaco Pastorius who lost his fight with personal demons and met an untimely death at the age of 35 after sustaining injuries in a fight outside of a south Florida music club. He left behind a legacy of unique bass solos both with the group, as a headline performer, and in other jazz settings that influenced the generation of electric bassists that followed. Joe Zawinul would often double Jaco’s bass riff on synthesizer creating a more cosmic aura. The Pastorious composition Teen Town, from the 1977 release Heavy Weather, features Jaco on drums as well as bass; he recorded the drum part first before overdubbing the bass line. He is accompanied on percussion by Manolo Badrena and Alex Acuña.

Finally, from the same album, A Remark You Made which showcases the individual strengths of the band members and includes a thoughtful, brooding solo by Wayne Shorter supported by Jaco’s restating and doubling of the theme on his bass, and punctuated by contrasting bright tones from Joe Zawinul.

WRVR Jazz NY – Chaka Khan

It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon, nineteen-seventy something, and I’m riding home on the public bus from White Plains, New York, a freshly purchased copy of Rufusized in hand. Little did I know that I would be blown away by the excitement of the opening track, marveling at the audacious vocals of a unique singer that would soon become one of my lifelong favorites.
“Once you get started, oh it’s hard to stop…”

And I never have stopped loving the shouts, growls and soulful purring of the artist who  has influenced generations of R&B singers. I followed that fateful purchase with the earlier Rags to Rufus, then anxiously awaited every subsequent release from Rufus, followed by Chaka’s solo albums throughout the eighties. Rufus’ sound featured Chaka’s lead and multi-tracked background vocals. This wall of Chaka is well represented here on Sweet Thing, just one of her numerous signature songs. Tony Maiden adds a memorable guitar lick to this classic.

Mary J Blige, an R&B giant in her own right, pays homage to her hero in this fine cover from her 1992 release What’s The 411?

Mary J later teamed up Chaka on their high energy performance Disrespectful from Chaka’s 2007 album Funk This. The duo complement each other with a lively call-and-response featuring perfectly executed vocal hand-offs throughout.

The tie in with jazz and WRVR? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if I ever heard Rufus on WRVR, but Chaka’s style and sound crosses so many genres, and she has displayed a great affinity for the jazz form. No less than the immortal Betty Carter praised Chaka’s scatting on Be Bop Medley from her eponymous 1982 release.

This stunning performance followed the release of one of my all-time favorite albums, What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me from 1981. On full display is Chaka’s unequaled skill at transforming even classic compositions with unique arrangements and dynamic interpretations. Check out her twist on Dizzy’s And The Melody Still Lingers On (Night in Tunisia), followed by her elevation of the Beatles’ We Can Work It Out.

Here is the list of personnel on classic cover of the be-bop classic (Worthy of special note is the synthesizer solo by Herbie Hancock):
Track 6 “And The Melody Still Lingers On (Night In Tunisia)”
Drums – Casey Scheuerell
Bass – Abraham Laboriel
Electric Piano – Ronnie Foster
Keyboards [Clavitar Solo, Break], Synthesizer [Oberheim Bells] – Herbie Hancock
Percussion – Paulinho da Costa
Synthesizer [Mini Moog Bass, Prophet 5] – David Foster
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie

Getting back to fact-checking: Chaka on WRVR? Maybe…
Chaka as musical legend? No doubt!

WRVR Jazz NY – Ella Fitzgerald

In celebration of International Jazz Day, remembering the contributions of jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald. Ella’s artistry and improvisational skills are amazing, and while she may not have invented scatting, there’s a good reason Ella is usually the first artist who comes to mind when referencing the form.
Throughout my childhood, Ella was everywhere, on T.V. and performing at pop and jazz festivals all over the world. If you are a boomer of a certain age, your parents and grandparents were likely huge fans, so you may have viewed her in the same way as Louie Armstrong, Nat King Cole and other great artists who later in their careers were seen first as entertainers.
Ella’s ability to hold her audience in thrall in no way detracted from her soaring vocal gifts. The story of her breakout performance, performing at the Apollo Theater is well documented, and her 1938 performance of the children’s nursery rhyme A Tisket A Tasket recorded with the Chick Webb Orchestra became a jazz standard.
Here’s a lighthearted performance of the song taken from a scene of the 1942 Abbott and Costello movie Ride ‘Em Cowboy:
Ella’s voice was angelic, pure and clear, and her timing and phrasing were jazz inspired; her delivery often evocative of a trumpet or trombone. In the tradition of other instrumental soloists, Ella expands on her free-form riffing while interweaving samples from other popular songs, snippets of familiar sounds, and even cultural stylings.
Nowhere are her scatting skills and vocal stamina better displayed than in this live performance of How High The Moon. Ella branches off on several bars of Bird’s classic Ornithology, drops in Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking, a short bugle call, a gravelly trombone section, and even a snake charming, far-eastern inspired  change of pace, as she bounces and swings through the entire song.
Unlike other artists whose voices reveal artifacts of strain and aging, cracking or scratchiness, or a lowering register, Ella’s voice maintained a girlish quality and purity of tone her entire life. I have a memory of Ella from the twilight of her career, though I’m not sure if the venue was at Avery Fisher Hall in NYC, the Palace Theater in Stamford, CT or a tribute special to Ella on television, but I do remember she took the stage looking a bit frail and unsteady. However, once the music started she seems to draw energy from the musicians and audience until you could feel the joy of performing flowing through her.
Such is the magic of Jazz, the magic of the jazz artist Ella Fitzgerald, our First Lady Of Song…

WRVR Jazz NY: Cutting Session – Monk vs. Horace Silver

In the tradition of legendary cutting sessions between stride piano masters like James P. Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton and Willie the Lion Smith in Harlem during the early days of Jazz, I present a challenge of classic compositions from modern masters Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver.

From Monk, I present Crepuscule With Nellie, from the album Criss-Cross and featuring Charlie Rouse on sax, followed by Silver’s Lonely Woman, from Song For My Father. Both albums are on my list of all-time favorites. Please vote for your favorite by commenting below.

If you’re interested in reading more, here’s a link to a great article on cutting sessions:

Jazz Profiles – “Cutting Sessions”

WRVR Jazz NY – Black History Month

In recognition of Black History Month, remembering Martin Luther King’s historic appearance at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 which was covered by WRVR radio.

Article from the New Yorker recalls King’s anti-war speech.

Martin Luther King Jr’s searing anti-war speech fifty years later


Audio of the full speech:

Also, sharing an interesting article from 1978 that fills in additional history about WRVR’s transition from Riverside’s classic jazz, to Sonderling’s jazz hybrid format. Not everyone was a fan of the change.

Archived copy of the article can be found here:

New York Magazine Jan 16, 1978



Redhead Record Review – Serenade to a Soul Sister

Dedicated to my little soul sister Kim.

Our featured redhead is Rusty Staub, affectionately nicknamed “Le Grande Orange” during his stint with the expansion Montreal Expos. Rusty had a long and illustrious baseball career that spanned 23 seasons and 6 All-Star appearances.

Rusty’s achievements on the field are surpassed by his dedication to others.

On April 4, 1986, Staub established the Rusty Staub Foundation to provide educational scholarships for youth and fight hunger.

In 1985, Staub founded the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which supports the families of New York City police officers, firefighters, Port Authority police, and emergency medical personnel who were killed in the line of duty. During its first 15 years of existence, the fund raised and distributed $11 million for families of policemen and firefighters killed in the line of duty. Since September 11, 2001, Staub’s organization has received contributions in excess of $112 million, and it has played a vital role in helping many families affected by the attack.


Our featured album is Serenade to a Soul Sister the 1968 Blue Note release by Horace Silver. While the opening track “Psychedelic Sally” is jumping and fun with an interesting bass line, to me it sounds a bit dated, and too similar to other popular jazz and funk compositions from this period. In contrast, the rest of the set is classic Silver with eclectic themes, rhythms and influences.

“Serenade to a Soul Sister” features a lively and thoughtful sax solo by Stanley Turrentine supported by Silver’s signature chorded rhythms.

“Rain Dance” makes use of a Native American inspired theme, much as Silver’s earlier album “The Tokyo Blues” displayed elements of Asian phrasing, while “Jungle Juice” is carried by a bouncing bass line and harmonized horn section.

“Kindred Spirits” follows a more traditional blues structure, at times echoing Coltrane’s “Cousin Mary.”

The final selection “Next Time I Fall in Love” is in the tradition of “Lonely Woman”, minus the melancholy.

If you are a fan of Horace Silver, this album is a must have for your collection.

Track listing
All compositions by Horace Silver.

Psychedelic Sally – 7:14
Serenade to a Soul Sister – 6:19
Rain Dance – 6:21
Jungle Juice – 6:46
Kindred Spirits – 5:55
Next Time I Fall in Love – 5:19


on tracks 1 – 3 (February 23, 1968)

Horace Silver – piano
Charles Tolliver – trumpet
Stanley Turrentine – tenor saxophone
Bob Cranshaw – bass, electric bass (on track 1)
Mickey Roker – drums

on tracks 4 – 6 (March 29, 1968)

Horace Silver – piano
Charles Tolliver – trumpet (exc. track 6)
Bennie Maupin – tenor saxophone (exc. track 6)
John Williams – bass
Billy Cobham – drums

Alfred Lion – production
Rudy Van Gelder – engineering
Reid Miles – design
Billy Cobham (Cover), Francis Wolff (Interior) – photography

WRVR New York – Hour of Jazz 10-23-2019

Well, I’ve come to the last of my canned content. Enjoy an hour of jazz, courtesy of Joe Bev, Mr. ‘RVR:

WRVR 106.7 FM, commercial Jazz station in New York City, 1970s

Les Davis – WRVR Host


Michael Franks – B’wana, He No Home
Tom Scott – Appolonia (Foxtrata)
Weather Report – Barbary Coast
Lenny White – Chicken Fried Steak
Ahmad Jamal – Dolphin Dance
Herbie Hancock – Dolphin Dance
Miles Davis – Stuff
Return to Forever – The Musician
Pat Metheny Group – Every Summer Night
The Brecker Brothers – Splonge

This old radio broadcast is uploaded for educational purposes only. The original copyright holders should get any monetization for this tiny piece of New York Jazz history.

WRVR New York – Hour of Jazz 10-18-2019

Hour of Jazz featuring jazz giants, courtesy of Joe Bev:

WRVR 106.7 FM, commercial Jazz station in New York City, 1970’s

G. Keith Alexander – WRVR Host


Miles DavisSeven Steps To Heaven
New York Jazz LoungeYou Are the Sunshine of My Life


Weather Report – Young and Fine
Chick Corea – Friends
New York Jazz Lounge – Night and Day
John Coltrane – But Not For Me
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet – Work Song
New York Jazz Lounge – Work Song
Ramsey Lewis – Do What You Wanna
Lee Morgan – The Rumproller

This old radio broadcast is uploaded for educational purposes only. The original copyright holders should get any monetization for this tiny piece of New York Jazz history.

WRVR New York – Hour of Jazz 10-8-2019

Another hour of jazz, featuring some Brazilian flair, courtesy of Joe Bev.

WRVR 106.7 FM, commercial Jazz station in New York City, 1970s

G. Keith Alexander – WRVR Host


Duke Ellington – Take the’A’ Train


Thelonius Monk – It Don’t Mean a Thing
Antonio Carlos Jobim – Wave
Herbie Hancock – Chameleon
The Modern Jazz Quartet – Blues in B Flat
Chick Corea and Gary Butron – Eleanor Rigby
The Jazz Crusaders – Eleanor Rigby
Antonio Carlos Jobim – The Red Blouse

This old radio broadcast is uploaded for educational purposes only. The original copyright holders should get any monetization for this tiny piece of New York Jazz history.

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