Martin Klemm

Sr. Radio Engineer

As Sr. Radio Engineer for WMUK, Martin Klemm could be taking care of a producer's computer in the morning, recording a band for Jazz Currents or Let's Hear It that afternoon, and producing Grassroots the next day. Being concerned with details and the staff's comfort, Martin will never run out of things to do.  Before coming to WMUK in 2003, Martin worked in Los Angeles making records with some outstanding producers, but preferred to be close to his family here in west Michigan. He enjoys keeping a busy schedule balancing WMUK, taking care of his senior 3-legged dog, and remodeling his home in the Edison neighborhood.

Email: martin.klemm (at) wmich.edu     Phone: (269) 387  3169

Craig Freeman

It's known under many names - "gypsy jazz," "jazz manouche," "hot club," or "Django jazz" - and refers to the popular music of 1930s Parisian clubs and cafés, pioneered by Romani musician Django Reinhardt and others.  The appeal for musicians and listeners alike is a strong as ever - the music is melodic, danceable, humorous, virtuosic and a little subversive. WMUK contributor Craig Freeman spent an hour in WMUK's Takeda studio with Kalamazoo-based  musicians The Birdseed Salesmen:  Helen Yee on violin, Nathan Tabor on lead guitar, and Jay Gavan on rhythm guitar. 

Tabor says the group's name is a reference to the film Sweet And Lowdown, which followed the story of a fictional Django-era guitarist. The Birdseed Salesmen play Reinhardt's own "Nuages," and "Douce Ambiance," Lew Pollack's "Two Cigarettes in the Dark," and "Tchavolo Swing" by Tchavolo Schmidt.

A tireless soloist and side man, Randy Johnston  has released 12 albums as a leader and has appeared on dozens of recordings with a wide variety of jazz recording artists. Keith Hall talks to the prolific guitarist in a live session in WMUK's Takeda Studio, where Johnston brings to life stories about his performing life with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Houston Person,  Etta Jones, Lonnie Smith, and Lou Donaldson.  

Randy Johnston and Keith Hall start their conversation by remembering Johnston's early days in Detroit, where he lived until he was 13. Music was everywhere, he says - he loved Motown artists and rock bands like MC5  and the Bob Seger System - but it was the Beatles phenomenon that made him want to play guitar. When his family returned to their southern roots in Richmond, VA, Johnston says he channeled some of the frustration at being a new student at a new school into hours of guitar practice. By his late teens, Johnston was playing in a popular band that advertised itself as suitable for "dances and pool parties." 

Johnston's path to becoming an indispensible guitarist in jazz organ groups was not direct, he tells Hall, but he learned a lot from the bandleaders who did hire him early on. Later, he played for 18 years with the Lou Donaldson Quartet. Johnston has devoted the last several years to producing solo albums. The latest is 2019's Cherry Juice.


Keith Hall

A greatly respected Michigan jazz artist, Steve Talaga says although he was tempted to uproot himself at times to pursue music, it turned out that Michigan was a wonderful place for him to play thousands of concerts, record albums, compose music, and teach the next generation of players. In a studio session at WMUK with Jazz Currents host Keith Hall, Talaga reminisces about the people and projects that have defined his career, which includes two decades as a faculty instructor at Hope College.

Herbie Hancock is probably his biggest musical hero, he tells Hall, saying it would be a dream come true to share tunes with the master. As a teacher, he admits he learns as much from his students as they do from him. Talaga is a prolific songwriter. He's appeared as a sideman on dozens of albums, and has released five solo albums under his name, filled with original material. In the WMUK studio, Talaga plays five solo versions of original tunes: "Comes the Dawn," "And Then Again," "Sacred Gifts," "Spikey," and "Country Dog."

Craig Freeman

Kids and their vivid imaginations are no mystery to Paul Bauer, who grew up with young nieces and nephews, watched his mother run a home daycare, and became a pre-school teacher himself before turning to music full-time. An instructor at Kalamazoo Kids in Tune and at the Crescendo Academy, he's also the drummer for the  local band The Mainstays. Bauer started another project, Small Sounds, a few years ago with his wife, Katrina Davidson. In the studio with Craig Freeman, Bauer and Davidson talk about how they write songs and engage children with their live shows. 

Drawing from a variety of music genres - pop, rock, electronic, and more - Small Sounds released its first album, Good Morning, Sun!, in 2016. In the studio, they play a stripped-down version of "Hey, Alligator!" from that release, and two newer songs, "My Pet Possum," and "Life on the Seven Seas."


Carol Corey

Sometimes, having a leading role in an orchestra can serve as the first step to musical exploration. The Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, which recently completed its 80th season, is a starting ground for several chamber ensembles, one of which recently visited WMUK for music and conversation with Cara Lieurance. The KJSO Woodwind Quintet is: flutist Emma Temple, a sophomore at Gull Lake High School; clarinetist Kaoru Murai, a senior from Portage Central High School; oboist Mei Lanting, a senior at Kalamazoo Central; bassoonist Jackson Crause, a senior at Portage Central;  and horn player Andrew Burhans, a sophomore at Portage Central. 

In the Takeda Performance Studio at WMUK, the musicians talk about everything from how they chose their instruments, to whom they study with, to what it was like to visit South Africa with the Junior Symphony in June of 2018. Crause shares his appreciation for Andrew Koehler, the conductor of the KJSO, and Temple says being in the quintet has given her confidence in more situations. Musical expression has advantages over verbal, says Murai, and Lanting looks back on her seven seasons with the KJSO. Burhans embraces the horn's dual nature as a woodwind and a brass instrument.

Together, the quintet plays J.S. Bach's "Little" Fugue in G minor, BWV 578, the second movement, "Columbines (Snowmass Lake)" from the Roaring Fork Quintet by Eric Ewazen; and the "Shanty No. 3" from Three Shanties by Malcolm Arnold.


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