New Jewish show joins UK Jazz Radio



By: EVA COHEN  
Published: December 19th 2010
in Culture » Music

Jazz Jews book cover

He released the book Jazz Jews earlier this year, and now British author and journalist Mike Gerber has been asked to host a show by the same name on UK Jazz Radio, an internet station that is only one year old and already has more than 600,000 listeners worldwide.

 

"It was in August that jazz bassist Brian Soundy, the founder of UK Jazz Radio, asked me if I fancied doing a show," Gerber recalled. "I said that sounded very exciting, but pointed out I had no broadcasting experience. He said that didn't matter, that what listeners appreciate is the presenter's knowledge and passion."

 

The Jazz Jews radio show first hit online radio on November 2 and the third show will be broadcast on December 28. The response to the show has generally been very positive, said Gerber, particularly because of how eclectic it is.

 

"There can't be many radio shows as diverse as mine musically, and that will continue because I find it very exciting and clearly listeners do too," said Gerber. "What people really say they like is that they don't know what they're going to hear next."

 

What Gerber said he really hopes for is that listeners will include people of all cultures.

 

"I want to open people's ears to all the thrilling music out there connected to my theme, particularly fusions of Jewish music and jazz, rootsy Jewish music such as klezmer, and also some great jazz being produced by Israeli musicians."

 

Gerber has enjoyed jazz since he saw Buddy Rich on a Royal Variety show as a teenager, but first became interested in the connection between Jews and Jazz when he wrote an article for Jewish Socialist magazine on the 1993 album "Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz". Byron is an African American clarinettist/jazz musician who was excited by Katz's Jewish American fusion of klezmer, jazz, mambo, tango, country and western.

 

Due to this initial article, Gerber was asked by the same publication in 2000 to write a feature on Jews and Jazz and this showed him the depth of history on the subject. He approached Five Leaves Publications, who had just put out a book titled "Rock n Roll Jews", about doing a book on jazz and Jews, they accepted, and from there "the theme became an obsession."

 

"My interest is not only in the music, but also in the socio-political aspects such as the relationship between African Americans and Jews in jazz in the U.S. and in apartheid era South Africa," said Gerber. "What I confirmed in researching my book is that the relationship between jazz and Jews is extensive, multi-faceted, global, -including a substantial section on Canada- and fascinating."

 

There are also extensive chapters on jazz during Nazi occupied Europe, in the former Soviet Union and in Israel.

 

The response to the Jazz Jews book has been varied, said Gerber, ranging from some "sniffy" reviews in Britian, and rave reviews in North America.

 

Gerber said Nat Hentoff, the eminent Jewish American jazz writer, called him to say "Wow!", and followed up with some "very flattering words" about the book in his Jazz Times column. Similarly, Canadian radio presenter Ron Sweetman, who isn't Jewish, said on his jazz show: "I have been reading books on jazz for over sixty years, and I have rarely learned as much from a single book as I have learned from Jazz Jews."

 

Currently Jazz Jews radio has a new edition each month, but if the show attracts sponsorship, Gerber could be able to begin broadcasting more regularly.

 

The show on UK Jazz Radio can be accessed in various ways: on a wifi internet radio, on a computer, or on a cellphone. The UK Jazz Radio website also has a "Listen Again" option which allows anyone to hear the last edition of the show at any time.

 

More information on the show can be be found at the Presenter's Page on UK Jazz Radio, and the book website can be visited Here.



Related articles: (Jazz, Jazz Jews, radio)
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