Keith Hall

Host of Jazz Currents

Keith Hall is the host of "Jazz Currents" on WMUK. He is the professor of jazz drum set at Western Michigan University's School of Music.

Johnny Rodgers

Johnny Rodgers began his life as a performer in theatre - singing, writing songs on piano, and dancing - when he was a boy growing up in Florida, egged on by his music-loving grandmother.  But he credits Western Michigan's Gold Company, and director Steve Zegree, with some of the most critical training for his career. Today he is an acclaimed one-man-band performer about whom the Chicago Tribune wrote: "He plays piano better than most singers. He sings better than most pianists. And he writes songs better than most singer-pianists." (Reich, Howard. "Johnny Rodgers: A Singer-Pianist For All Seasons." Chicago Tribune. Nov 25, 2014).  

Rodgers joined Jazz Currents host Keith Hall in the studio at WMUK during a visit to his alma mater in December 2017. He plays his own songs, "Home To Mendocino," "The Best of You And Me," and "Mid-Day Moon," as well as the popular song, "What a Wonderful World."


sunnywilkinson.com

Sunny Wilkinson, a beloved jazz vocalist in Michigan who has trained a generation of singers at both Michigan State and Western Michigan Universities, recently decided to take a little time for herself and her trio in the recording studio, which resulted in her new album, Into The Light.

Keith Hall

Jazz Currents host Keith Hall spends time in the studio with engaging jazz pianist Josh Nelson, an artist with blazing talent whose history of experiences with top players, past and present, inform his music and conversation. Nelson, a frequent collaborator with vocalist Sara Gazarek, has nearly a dozen solo albums to his credit, most recently The Sky Remains (2017).


Martin Klemm

MOSS is probably best described as a collaborative project rather than a band. It brings together five top contemporary vocalists to create, in a short space of time, song arrangements that draw from a wide palette of styles and techniques. Each of the five - Jo Lawry, Lauren Kinhan, Kate McGarry, Theo Bleckmann, and Peter Eldridge - have unique talents and directions: Kinhan and Eldridge are part of New York Voices, Jo Lawry collaborates with Sting, Theo Bleckmann makes use of electronics in his solo ECM albums, and Kate McGarry often draws on her folk music background. Their kinship is based on recognizing their shared strengths and unique differences.

In 2008, with original member/founder Luciana de Souza (Lawry is her replacement), the five singers made a now-classic album, MossOnly in recent months have their professional lives allowed them to focus on a follow-up project. Western Michigan University, and Gold Company director Greg Jasperse, who arranged a WMU residency for the quintet, has played an important role in reuniting the singers and offering them the chance to work on new music. 

In the studio at WMUK, they sing new works and favorite from their first album, with Jazz Currents host Keith Hall leading them through a musical conversation. 


Rede Conexão, via Flickr

The Brazilian guitarist and singer Chico Pinheiro, newly transplanted to New York City, spent a few days with students at the Western Michigan University School of Music last March. The in-demand musician, who has recorded six albums, also spent an hour in WMUK's studio with Jazz Currents host Keith Hall. They discuss the foundations of Brazilian rhythmic styles, and how they intersect with American jazz. Pinheiro says learning Brazilian music gave him an appreciation of the many cultures - African, Caribbean, European, and more -  that contributed to it.

Pinheiro advocates using small moments in life to stimulate writing music, because, he says, you can't wait for divine inspiration. As an example, he plays a song written after a mysterious event he witnessed with his then-new girlfriend.


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