Join Jeff Parker for the swinging sounds of Jazz Joint Jump – Tuesday afternoons from 4pm-6pm! Jeff Parker hosts Jazz Joint Jump a mix of medium and up-tempo big band and small group jazz that spans over seven decades of jazz history.Â Jeff has been programming jazz in the Central Valley steadily since his start in 1985, broadcasting a program called Parkerâ€™s Place on KEAP-AM in 1988-9 and on KAAT-FM from 1989 to 2005.
Jazz Joint Jump includes music from the masters of jazz in the 1930s and 1940s and follows many of the great Swing Era soloists and bandleaders throughout their careers. Attention is also given to the mainstream jazz instrumentalists and vocalists of the 1950s and 1960s swinging the songs of the great songwriters of Tin Pan Alley. You’ll also hear a number of modern day jazz musicians and soloists on the play list. From Duke Ellington to Diana Krall, Jazz Joint Jump runs the full gamut of jazz that swings.
Listen to Jazz Joint Jump Tuesdays from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM on 90.7 KFSR
A brief history of Jazz Joint Jump
This year our mainstream jazz and big band music radio show, in one incarnation or another, will be in itâ€™s twentieth year of broadcast. We have seen a lot of the great players pass away. Weâ€™ve been through an unexpected swing dance craze and numerous station buyouts. And as youâ€™ll read below, to keep our program on the air, it has taken a modicum of perseverance as well.
Our little adventure in jazz broadcasting began in 1985, when we hit the airwaves of Central California with a weekly big band music radio show that lasted one whole hour. In humble surroundings, over AM 790, we broadcasted from a little, beat up wooden building, on the outskirts of Fresno. Our weekly “one-hour of glory” was called the Sentimental Supper. The only thing worse than the announcing was the smell of the ridiculous food we actually cooked up on a hot plate over the air during the show. The setting of the show was supposed to be an old big band era style hotel, as we claimed to be broadcasting from the Grill Room of the Ecstasy Hotel (our call letters were KXTC.) A dinner music loop-track, complete with crowd noise, was run under all announcer segues to give the impression we were really there. We used a corny little dinner bell when requests were honored. When the station was sold in 1987 and for our last show (then a whopping 2 hours long) we had a character named Julia Childless come in and prepare a gourmet meal in the kitchen. She promptly burned the place to the ground and we signed off with Happy Trails.
During this period it suddenly became apparent that being a child of the rock and roll era didn’t do much for old Parker’s knowledge of jazz history, the big band era, swing music or anything else outside of loud amplified guitars and screaming men posing as vocalists… unless of course it was soul music, or folk artists doing protest songs. Anyway, we figured since the chicks weren’t actually beating down the doors or lighting up the phones (at least the ones under, say, 65) maybe we should start learning a bit about jazz history and the big band era and buying records to supplement the overabundance of Martin Denny and Kay Kyser records the radio station had in its library.
We embarked on a mission of really learning about big band music and the history of jazz, buying up anything we could find in the way of reference books. We also listened to any other big band and jazz radio shows and stations we could find on AM, FM or Shortwave to get ideas. One shot of inspiration came from a very unlikely source, a locally produced, extremely funny morning team known as Dean And Don who broadcast their Breakfast Club over 105.9 FM KKDJ. Growing up south of Cleveland and listening to East Coast radio, Parker was pretty hard to impress, but these guys at KKDJ really had it going on. Under many of their theatre-of-the-mind type comedy bits ran old big band songs and jazz instrumentals by guys like George Shearing and Oscar Peterson. Old time radio type announcer intros used before skits, and well timed sound effects were also part of the lure. As fate would have it these two immortals of Fresno radio used to listen to the big band radio show we did on KXTC (probably for a laugh) and friendships developed. We were quite surprised to find the two really did love big band jazz and swing music. Being roughly the same age, suddenly it became not so weird to be immersed in what seemed to be a dying form of music.
Following the 1987 sale of KXTC, our new home became KEAP AM 980. Fortunately there were no playlists at KEAP either so once again we were able to free-form it, adding more and more mainstream jazz tracks to our ever increasing jazz radio library. But while the KXTC studios were humble, the KEAP studio was just a down right dump. We used the premise BYOTP while affiliated with KEAP, standing for “bring your own toilet paper.” There were a number of wasp nests in the attic and in the summer, without fail, those pesky suckers would get into the studio long about 9 PM. Let me tell ya,’ you learn how to read radio copy and smile in a radio studio full of wasps baby, and you can read copy through anything. Yikes!
KEAP was sold in 1989 and we got out of the hornet’s nest landing head first at KAAT-FM. Initially KAATâ€™s broadcast frequency was 107.1, but then moved in the 1990s to 103.1. At that point the KAAT had only one studio, located in Oakhurst. Often this meant a drive of nearly two hours depending on which point the bread and butter job happened to be that Saturday.
Then in 1994, our old buddy Dean Opperman, of Dean and Don fame, came back to Fresno after a number of years in Santa Barbara radio. Dean was placed as program director at KKDJ and instructed to resurrect it back to its former state of glory. KKDJ had a 50,000-watt signal and could be heard from Bakersfield to Modesto clear as a bell. Lo and behold Opperman convinced management that a jazz show would work on Sunday mornings. So, with a bit of trepidation, Parker became the “Jazzmaster” at KKDJ and was heard Sunday mornings from 6 AM to 10 AM. This was the top of the mark for old Parker. A killer signal, fantastic ratings, a great time-slot, tons of calls, and oh yes, multitudes of chicks…well maybe not, but four out of five ain’t bad.
As is the case in radio these days, KKDJ sold out in 1995 to a big business radio station holder called Infinity. When it sold, Parker immediately baled and within weeks the staff was told the station would became Spanish. Luckily Larry Gamble, the owner of KAAT, was gracious enough to allow us back on the air. In 1995 we rebuilt the old white wooden one story out on the back forty of the KAAT complex and opened it up every Saturday as the jazz juke joint called Parker’s Place. That lasted until early 2005, when KAAT was sold to the Moon Broadcasting Company, which operates Spanish language radio stations throughout the west. And that of course brings us to our current program, now known as Jazz Joint Jump, airing every Sunday afternoon on 90.7 from 2 pm-4 pm. We are thrilled to uphold the tradition of our big band jazz clambake playing the highest quality CD re-masters of 1930s and 1940s jazz and big band music; by mixing in mainstream jazz and hi-fi big band recordings; by playing only the finest jazz grounded modern swing bands; and by adding new jazz recordings weekly to an already nearly endless play list.
Broadcasting big band swing and classic jazz music isn’t lucrative, but it comes with its rewards (except for the chicks.) We were on the air the Saturday following the passing of Frank Sinatra with a four-hour radio special; we were on the air the Saturday after Peggy Lee passed away with a two-hour tribute. We have also bid our adieu to Les Brown, Jonah Jones, Al Grey, JJ Johnson, Rosemary Clooney, Ray Brown, Lionel Hampton, and most recently Nina Simone, Benny Carter, Billy May, Ray Charles, Barney Kessel, Illinois Jacquet, and now Artie Shaw.
Jazz Joint Jump includes music from the masters of jazz in the 1930s and 1940s and follows many of the great Swing Era soloists and bandleaders throughout their careers. Attention is also given to the mainstream jazz instrumentalists and vocalists of the 1950s and 1960s swinging the songs of the great songwriters of Tin Pan Alley. Youâ€™ll also hear a number of modern day jazz musicians and soloists on the play list. From Duke Ellington to Diana Krall, Jazz Joint Jump runs the full gamut of jazz that swings.
The show does come with a disclaimer: it is ill advised to listen while attempting to take a lazy Sunday afternoon nap. However, many listeners have found that doing yard work while listening to the show is much more tolerable, in some cases even increasing productivity. Our suggestion is to barbeque up some chicken or ribs, hangout, and enjoy the music.
– Jeff Parker hosts Jazz Joint Jump, Tuesdays 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM on 90.7 KFSR. Note: Jeff also runs the excellent jazz website www.swingmusic.net