"THERE'S MORE NOW than there ever was," says veteran jazz announcer Felix Grant about the growth of jazz shows on radio. "I think it's great!"
It's hard to imagine how an announcer could be -- after more than four decades of playing jazz on Washington radio -- as passionate as Grant about his vocation. But then again, Felix Grant isn't just another announcer.
Each Saturday afternoon at 4, Grant slips into the WWRC (980 AM) studio for four hours of interviewing visiting jazz artists and playing their new recordings to a growing number of jazz fans. Listeners soon discover -- as they did during Grant's 30-year tenure as WMAL-AM's resident, nightly jazz authority -- that Grant's program constitutes one of the most comprehensive educations in jazz that local radio offers.
"I enjoy the opportunity to play this kind of music," says Grant, whose reputation as a jazz authority is international. Two years ago, the Felix Grant Jazz Library at the Jamaica School of Music (in Kingston) was dedicated in his honor. At 67, Grant still keeps a busy schedule on the music circuit, having recently returned from a marathon tour of European jazz festivals. In October, he'll lead a group of Howard University jazz musicians and a dance troupe on a two-week cultural exchange trip to Beijing.
Putting the show togther also keeps him busy. This Saturday on WWRC, for instance, he'll feature cuts by Bill Evans and Jim Hall, and highlight John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman recordings made in the early '60s on the Impulse label. Because of the building interest in jazz, Impulse and two other labels, Verve and Blue Note, have recently taken dozens of albums from that era and reproduced them using '80s technology; the result is crisper, high quality recordings.
Here are some other regular stopping points on the weekend jazz radio dial: FRIDAYS WPFW (89.3 FM) AT 6 A.M. Joe Pastori spins four hours of fusion jazz. Then from 4 to 7:30, "Out of the Afternoon" host Art Cromwell offers mainstream jazz, followed at 8:30 by 3 1/2 hours of "Old Dreams, New Dreams" with Herb Taylor blending bebop, straight ahead and fusion cuts. WDCU (90.1 FM) AT 6 A.M. "Rise and Shine" host Faunee plays six hours of jazz each weekday morning. At 2 p.m. Gwen Redding hosts "The Art of . . .," a daily, 90-minute artist spotlight show. This Friday she interviews Brook Benton. From 4 to 6:30, Redding plays jazz instrumentals and some vocals on "Caravan." From 7 to 10, Earl Stoddard blends jazz and blues vocals on "The Sounds of Jazz." SATURDAYS WGMS (570 AM/103.5 FM) AT 7 P.M. Paul Anthony's weekly three-hour "Jazz Unlimited" program features a mixture of vintage and recent releases coupled with artist interviews. This week he'll highlight cuts from the new album by the young Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone and songs from Stan Getz' recent release. He'll also play cuts from the Jazz Brothers' 1961 debut album. Next week, the group, which includes cornetist Chuck Mangione, holds its 25th reunion, at Blues Alley. WAMU (88.5 FM) AT 7 P.M. Robert Bamberger kicks off his five-hour vintage jazz show with an hour of Duke Ellington cuts. This week's feature is Woody Herman and his Orchestra from 1936 to '42. SUNDAYS WPFW (89.3 FM) AT 2:30 A.M. David Gilchrist gets Sunday morning jazz off to an early start with 4 1/2 hours of soft and easy jazz. At 7 a.m., Tom Cole hosts "G-Strings," a four-hour program specializing in jazz performed on string instruments. This week, Cole highlights artists who've gone from country to jazz, featuring Hank Garland, Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Albert Lee and Lenny Breau. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jerry Washington presents "The Otherside," a jazzy bebop magazine that has attracted as large an audience for its announcer as for its music. (On Saturdays Washington does an all-blues show as "the Bama"). From 2 to 5 on WPFW, NIH research doctor John Zimbrick hosts "Jazz Cornucopia." This Sunday, he'll feature and interview guitarist Herb Ellis. From 6 to 8, Miyuki Williams features classical jazz on "Evening Rhapsody" followed at 9 by Library of Congress recordings specialist Larry Appelbaum with two hours of vintage jazz and swing. This Sunday, he'll highlight Jessica Williams, Cecil Payne and Mose Allison. WLTT (94.7 FM) 10 A.M. "Sunday Jazz Brunch" with Steve Alan is a three-hour show featuring mainstream and contemporary artists geared to listeners just getting into jazz. Artists to be featured this week are Bob James, David Sanborn, Earl Klugh, Michael Hedges and Weather Report. WDJY (100.3 FM) AT NOON Program director and morning man Brute Bailey spins three hours of jazz on "100% Jazz." This week he'll highlight singers Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan, Della Reese, Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald on "The Ladies of Jazz." WAMU-FM (88.5) AT 2 P.M. Rusty Hassan features artist interviews and four hours of jazz. This Sunday, Aaron Hiter sits in for vacationing Hassan and profiles saxophonist Wayne Shorter. At 11 p.m., hear Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz show, syndicatedby National Public Radio. This week's guest is pianist Jaki Byard. WETA (90.9 FM) AT 4 P.M. Four Queens Jazz, an hour jazz show recorded at the Four Queens Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, this week features the Mose Allison Trio. WASH (97.1 FM) AT 6 P.M. Marilyn Thompson hosts the hour-long "Jazz Up Your Sunday" directed at newcomers to jazz. This week she'll blend fusion and contemporary jazz from such artists as Jean Carne, Fattburger and Grover Washington Jr. WDCU (90.1 FM) JAZZ WAVES AT 7 P.M. Steve Metalitz calls hosting "Jazz Waves" "a great way to take three hours out of your week and listen to music." Somehow, Metalitz, who's been doing his gig for no pay at various stations around the country for 18 years, manages to squeeze three hours out of his busy schedule as chief counsel and staff director to Sen. Charles McC. Mathis (R-Md.) and part-time instructor at Johns Hopkins University to spin a mixture of big band style jazz and contemporary jazz recordings. OVERNIGHTS Seven nights a week, WDCU's "Jazz Unlimited" program offers six hours of jazz beginning at midnight. On WPFW, Midnight Tracks, also a seven-nights-a-week program, regularly features jazz, blues, reggae, comedy, vocals, rock, rhythm & blues, African music and more until 6 am.