Local Music

Hear interviews with guests on music programs produced here at WMUK, as well as program news.

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.

MSR Classics

Fortepianist Leslie Tung, professor emeritus of music at Kalamazoo College, has made good use of of his personal time after retiring from the faculty at Kalamazoo College after over 30 years. Still actively teaching, he now finds he has the energy to devote to playing his own fortepiano, resulting in a new album,  Theme and Variations: Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn. It was recently released by the MSR Classics label.

Tung talks to Cara Lieurance about his long-term fascination with the instrument, its unique sound, and the possibilities that are still being discovered in the components and expression of the fortepiano.

His new album focuses on three sets of variations by three great composers: Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart. 

C. Lieurance

Tomorrow night in the Light Fine Arts Center at Kalamazoo College, two young cellists, returning from their respective colleges or conservatories, will co-lead a program of works by Bach, Handel, and Barriere, with Carl Witt accompanying.

Alicia Eppinga

The Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck reaches the end of its 31st season this week with concerts on Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm in the Woman's Club of Saugatuck. Returning as a key player is Alicia Eppinga, the principal cellist of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. She begins the program with the Cello Sonata Op 19 by Sergei Rachmaninov, a work which, while beautiful, brings up a sensitive issue for cellists seeking accompanists - the piano part is notoriously difficult. Luckily for her, she says, pianist Drew Le suggested they play it. The rest of the program features famous works of Edvard Grieg - the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 and the Holberg Suite - arranged for eleven strings by Adam Liebert, another Grand Rapids Symphony member and a performer at the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck. 

Wayne Powers' life as an entertainer - actor, singer, comedian, radio host - has taken him from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Living in Kalamazoo for the last three years, he re-energized his love of singing, and began to plan a studio recording. The resulting album, If Love Were All, has just been released in the U.S., and a local album release concert and celebration will be held Tuesday, Aug 7, from 7-10 pm at the Union Cabaret and Grille in Kalamazoo. 

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Wayne Powers recounts his early experiences as an out-of-his-depth teen jazz singer in New York clubs, which put him on a track that would lead to a job with music legend Henry Mancini's publishing business in Los Angeles. He became a member of the Off The Wall Improv group, a training ground for young comics (Robin Williams was one of his improv partners). Powers broke into television, and starred for two seasons on NBC's 13 EastAfter its surprise cancellation, he chose to leave television and return to music, recording 1993's Plain Old Me.  Now, after 25 years (and yet another career as a popular radio host), Powers recorded the "saloon" songs that have been touchstones for him through the years.