Archive for March 9th, 2009

Can I vent here?

Chuck Cecil, the Swingin’ Years

So last night I tuned in, as I often do on Sunday nights, to KXJZ’s Classic Jazz and Swing program.  This Sunday night program, along with the preceding River Walk Jazz show, are the only two chances to hear classic jazz on Sac’s only jazz station.  River Walk tends toward the dixieland spectrum, which is fine, but not really my thing… so I really look forward to hearing a couple of hours of , well, Classic Jazz and Swing.

You know what I heard when I tuned in last night?  Crap.  
I don’t know where host George Esposito got his idea of what classic jazz and swing is, but he apparently believes that it sounds a lot like the bland contemporary jazz that I assiduously avoid the rest of the week– I finally turned the show off during a cut from a band that sounded more like Santana than Goodman.   
Out of curiosity I looked up KXJZ’s own description of the show: 
“A weekly excursion to the roots of the jazz era, the development of jazz and swing, its personalities and definitive recordings up through the 1950’s.”

I looked up the playlist for last night’s show.  Any Benny Goodman?  

No.  
Louis Armstrong?  
No.
Duke Ellington?
No.
Lionel Hampton, Harry James, Django Reinhardt, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Fats Waller, Les Brown or Xavier Cugat?
No.
Apparently Esposito is the wrong guy for the job.  I’m not suggesting that the host do nothing but play well-known classics all night, but weighting the playlist in favor of newly recorded gunk by a bunch of refugees from the fusion section totally misses the point.  You’ve got two hours– play the jazz that isn’t going to get played on this station the rest of the time.  
I’ll be honest.  I have never enjoyed this show as much as its predecessor,  the Swingin’ Years, hosted by Chuck Cecil, which ran in the same time slot up until a few years ago.  Chuck Cecil began his weekly foray into classic jazz and swing in 1956, and over the next 50+ years logged interviews with many of the greatest names in jazz.  I listened to Cecil’s show religiously until it was discontinued, I assumed because Cecil himself must have retired or died. Well,  ‘ass of you or me’ because it turns out that Cecil is still out there, and still producing the show.  Maybe I’ll just have to learn to stream Cecil’s genius on the web while hoping that someone down at KXJZ pulls Esposito’s head out of his butt.