Monday, September 12, 2011

Jazz, KCSM, and John Coltrane

I had the pleasure of listening to my ex sing in her latest group the other night. It was a small place right on the main drag, two doors from the local movie theater. Just as you walked in the door you'd practically stumble across the five--two lady singers, the guitarist/leader, upright bass and saxophone. They played three sets of jazz and pop standards impeccably--and with lots of feeling and warmth.

It all made me hungry for some more Jazz, so I turned to KCSM 91.1-- the Bay Area's Jazz Station. KCSM plays all Jazz all the time, and has for years. Taking over the massive record library of KJAZ, its noble predecessor, the station now boasts the third largest Jazz collection in the country--and one of the others is at the Smithsonian!

So, on went the radio and before long I was caught up in a multi-hour special presentation on the great saxophonist John Coltrane. His story is well known to Jazz aficionados. He was huge in the 1950's and 60's, with the up and down life that he led fueled by an intense focus (he practiced all the time), his musical vision and, sadly, some heroin addition too (which he did kick in a spiritual discovery).

At home, I listened to the rest of the special and then put on my copy of Giant Steps, one of his great albums. Man, it sounded good. Then, I called KCSM and renewed my membership. The station, based at the College of San Mateo, a local community college, is commercial free (that means 100 percent music and very deep expertise from its seasoned staff). I rejoined with pleasure. If you're a Jazz enthusiast, you should be a member. If you're not in the area, you can hear them online--so no excuses!

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