jazz

Sehvilla Mann | WMUK / photo of Emmet Cohen by Taili Song Roth

Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, joins Cara Lieurance to open the 2020 festival brochure and discuss the various artists, styles, venues and extra-musical experiences the festival will offer between April 22 - May 10. Van Der Westhuizen created different categories with multiple events for 2020, including "A Celebration of Beethoven," "Blissfully Baroque," "Keyboard Deep Dive," and "Jazz." The festival will be held in venues in Kalamazoo and surrounding communities from April 22 - May 10. 

One of the pianists singled out in the discussion is Sergei Babayan, whose career as a teacher has kept him under the radar as a soloist. He's one of the few pianists whose Chopin playing can bring Van Der Westhuizen to tears, he says. The festival will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth with a number of concerts, including 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit playing an all-Beethoven program.

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.


Katherine Lane

Jazz pianist and composer Nicholas Olynciw (OH-lin-shoo) recently completed his master's degree in jazz performance at Western Michigan University, where he studied with Matthew FriesJazz Currents host Keith Hall visits with Olynciw in the Takeda studio at WMUK, where they talked about his Long Island, Texas, and Michigan connections, and Olynciw plays several new solo works:  "New Blues," "Associated," "Thermos," "Re-Pete," and "Dream Dancing."


Jimmy Katz

Saxophonist Joe Lovano says he, drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Leo Genovese, and bassist Esperanza Spalding, all of whom are innovative bandleaders, decided to go on a 35-date world tour in the spring of 2014. This is the first time they've been able to resume as a group. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Lovano discusses his fellow members of the group, and talks about the projects that occupied him in the meantime, including a new release on ECM Records with Trio Tapestry.

The Spring Quartet will perform on the Fontana series on Saturday, May 4 at 7;30 pm, in the Dalton Center Recital Hall at Western Michigan University.

LHI Live: Advanced Looping With After Ours

Apr 12, 2019
Craig Freeman

After Ours is a South Bend-based duo that packs an amazing amount of sound into its grooves. Eli Kahn plays a hybrid 7-string instrument on which he can play bass lines, rhythm guitar, and lead guitar with help from an impressive  effects rack. Arthur Schroeder is an in-demand drummer with a background in jazz, rock, and hip-hop. Their latest album, released in August, 2018, is called All The Time.

In a live performance in WMUK's Takeda studio, Kahn and Schroeder demonstrate their loop-based music and talk to host Craig Freeman about the versatility of the duo. They've played together for over 10 years, an experience that has given them both the same "loop mind" and an instinct for adapting their sound to any venue, from an underground club to a champagne bar bookstore.


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