Let's Hear It

Craig Freeman

For classically-trained jazz pianist Dan Willenberg, Thelonius Monk is a creative genius who was both generous with his fellow musicians and uncompromising in his mission to live his music his way. In a free-ranging interview with Craig Freeman, Willenberg shares a personal vision of the sometimes-misunderstood jazz master, highlighting some special aspects of his playing and personality. 

Willenberg plays the Thelonius Monk tunes "'Round Midnight," "Bye-Ya," "Let's Cool One," "In Walked Bud," plus Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss." 


Joe Policastro

Near the release of the Joe Policastro Trio's latest album, Screen Sounds,  Jazz Currents host Keith Hall invited bassist Joe Policastro, guitarist Dave Miller, and drummer Mikel Avery to show off their sound in WMUK's Takeda Studio, and have a conversation about the rock, soul, film, and pop influences that appear in their creative arrangements.

One of the unusual things about the trio is they have their own personal "sandbox" for exploring music together: a 3-day-a-week standing gig at the Chicago nightclub Pops for Champagne, which allows them to explore their repertoire to the edges. The three members of the trio talk about their work together and apart, and how they find compelling music in everything from Japanese westerns to daytime soap operas.


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."


C. Lieurance

When two musicians find themselves compatible with each other, distance matters less. Fiddler Ryan McKasson, who lives in Tacoma, WA and Boston-raised singer/guitarist Eric McDonald, of Montreal, Canada, are a top-notch duo that play traditional music of Scotland, Ireland and North America. They recently visited WMUK while touring with their new album, Harbour

Craig Freeman

Kjartan Code was raised in Kalamazoo, but for most of his twenties he has circled the globe, playing gypsy-style violin in street and festival settings. In a live performance at WMUK, with guitarist Bert Ebrite and percussionist Carolyn Koebel, Code talks to Craig Freeman about the demands of busking and the influence of the many cultures he's been immersed in on his music. 


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