Weekend Let's Hear It

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."

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.


Craig Freeman

Violinist Ahmed Tofiq has become, by neccessity, a bridge between Eastern and Western musical traditions, and a bridge between cultures as well. The co-founder of a youth orchestra for children of Syrian refugees, Orchestra Rouh, he speaks Arabic and excels in playing traditional melodies in the styles he learned growing up in Kurdistan. But Tofiq has embraced life in Kalamazoo since moving here to earn his master's degree in music at Western Michigan University in 2014. He knows that music is one way to form connections, and a feeling of home, quickly.

In the Takeda studio, with his violin, Ahmed Tofiq tells his story and plays a few of his favorite maqamat as he speaks with Craig Freeman. 


andromusic.com

This edition of Weekend Let's Hear It features an interview with piano virtuoso and composer Marc-Andre Hamelin, who performs a solo concert of music by Mozart, Debussy, Hamelin and Schubert in a Piano Masters Series event presented by the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. And, we learn about a Michigan-themed concert at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. It features music and photography that was inspired by scenic places in the state, written by Jim Spalink of An Dro