Linda Yohn

Music Director

Linda Yohn simply cannot remember a day in her life that was not filled with music. Her early life was full of changes as the daughter of a well-respected cancer research scientist who moved his family about, but one thing was constant: the love of music instilled by her mother. So, when it seemed life was too hard to bear, young Linda would listen to her radio, play her guitar, dance her heart out and sing at the top of her lungs. So, it isn’t so strange that “older” Linda still does all those things!

Linda’s jazz life is one well-lived. In her early days, she scuffled at four or five jobs at a time in Columbus, Ohio to make ends meet while she taught herself the craft of jazz radio. There were no women role models, so each time she missed the mark, she’d get back up and try it again, vowing never to repeat that mistake. In Kent Ohio, she learned the ropes of public radio and made many strong national musical friendships that she keeps today. A brief stint in New York as a professional music publicist taught Linda the value of making deadlines and keeping promises. Through out all these early experiences, listening to jazz and blues in clubs and concerts kept Linda’s eyes on the prize of one day working professionally full-time in jazz radio.

To be able to go to work every day and get paid to play music on WEMU is a dream job come true for Linda Yohn. She still feels like she should pinch herself just to make sure it is for real. Even though Linda has been with WEMU since 1987 as music director, it is a position she does not take for granted. “The trust placed in a WEMU host by listeners is a rare and beautiful thing. To know that you, your voice and your musical choices can make or break a listener’s day is an awesome responsibility. As I review a new recording, I try to gauge the effect it will have on someone in their home, car or office. If the music is lacking in feeling, purpose, joy, message, meaning or craftsmanship, we will not play it on WEMU. I believe 100 percent that music is a powerful healing tool.”

Metaphysics aside, Linda Yohn knows that radio requires precision and attention to detail. When you listen to “89.1 Jazz” with Linda, you hear a relaxed woman comfortable in her own skin. But to reach this ease, Linda spends considerable time planning her program down to the second of each hour so that you get 55 minutes of high quality, intriguing music in between NPR news breaks. It’s a lot harder than it sounds! But, it is lots of fun, too.

Linda’s attention to detail, professionalism and commitment to great music on the radio has not gone un-noticed by her national colleagues. She has been nominated repeatedly for the Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Excellence In Jazz Journalism by the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2006 she received the highest honor from her peers at the annual JazzWeek Summit: The Duke Dubois Jazz Humanitarian Award. Linda is always a first-call panelist and presenter at international jazz conferences and meetings. Perhaps the conference organizers call on Linda because her on-line postings on national jazz bulletin boards are timely, informative, creative and passionate. Linda represents WEMU, Ann Arbor, Eastern Michigan University and Detroit well on the national scene.

While the national awards and accolades are notable and humbling, it is the love of the unique listening community of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and the Detroit environs that truly fuels Linda’s public radio music flame. She gives freely of her time to Jazzistry, The University Musical Society, The Eastern Michigan University Jazz Ensemble, The Michigan Jazz Festival, The Ann Arbor Summer Festival, The Ypsilanti District Library, The Detroit International Jazz Festival. The Detroit Blues Society, The American Cancer Society and many other organizations. “You get what you give back.” says Linda. I love volunteering in the community. I learn what is important to people and what to play and say when I’m on the air. When I “MC” a show, I keep my ears open and listen to what the musicians have to say and take that back to listeners. It’s all about serving them with the right music, information and giving attitude.”

Linda believes in life-long learning. While she appreciates the music of all the greats: Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Smith, Miles Davis, Count Basie, Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Nat King Cole, Charlie Parker and Lester Young, she knows that jazz is music of the moment. She seeks out the best electrifying new talents in jazz, blues and Latin music today to keep jazz and blues fans on top of new musical trends.

With Linda Yohn’s ears, heart and soul working for them, WEMU listeners are in great hands in the morning Monday through Friday on 89.1.

Trombone Shorty, Ann Arbor musical favorite is a generous supporter of young musicians through his foundation based in New Orleans.

  The Lunar Glee Club rocked Ann Arbor’s musical world in the 1980s and early ‘90s with their jazz, Afrobeat, funk, calypso and Latin fusion.  Sunday July 27th, all 9 original members of the band will present a 30th Reunion Concert at Kerrytown Concert House.  

Jazz Appreciation Month wraps up on Wednesday, April 30th with International Jazz Day.

89.1 WEMU’s free Sesi Motors – Jan Winkelman 5:01 Jazz series springs to life Friday, April 4th with one of your best-loved Latin jazz bands – Tumbao Bravo

Dance and enjoy the afternoon with your friends!

89.1 WEMU-FM and Sesi Motors present the 5:01 First Friday Series dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Jan Winkelman.

Join us for a  5:01 PM celebration music and more on Friday, April 4th

 The show is at the newly renovated  Rush Street,  314 S. Main Street in Ann Arbor.  Admission is free.

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This Valentine’s Day, WEMU will premiere the romantic music of singer-guitarist Stacey Kent and the new CD, The Changing Lights released on  Warner Brothers/Parlophone Reacords.  Each of her previous recordings have been a marvel of delicacy, swing, precision, subtle passion and just-barely disguised emotional frailty.  It is hard to believe that she and her band could top Breakfast On The Morning Tram or Dreamer In Concert  but The Changing Lights further explores Ms.

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Those who experienced Angelique Kidjo, Lizz Wright and Dianne Reeves appearing as Sing The Truth! at the 2011 Detroit Jazz Festival know that Ms.

Angélique Kidjo, the songwriter and singer from Benin, was in Kenya being a do-gooder when the concept of her new album, “Eve,” came to her, she said, “like a light bulb blowing up in your head.”

Ingo Rautenberg/ Courtesy of the Artist

Upcoming Events for  this weekend, January 17 - 20

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I decided to look at guitarist Joshua Breakstone’s Facebook Page as I listened to his new CD, With The Wind And The Rain.  His lead photo from his practice room was the atmospheric view over the Hudson River with the New York City skyline in a velvet fog.  That must be a beautiful space because it has helped veteran jazz guitarist Joshua Breakstone further refine and define his tone, approach and construction of brilliant solo passages.  Joshua Breakstone has been recognized as a major force in jazz guitar since the late 1970s.  His first recording as a leader, Wonderful!

www.robertprester.com

WEMU listeners are discerning judges of good talent.  You have heard gifted pianists such as McCoy Tyner, Bebo Valdes, Chucho Valdes, Danilo Perez and Michel Camilo on 89.1 Jazz shows.  We think you will welcome pianist Robert Prester and his new CD Dogtown with open ears.  Not unlike Chucho Valdes and Danilo Perez, Robert Prester followed classical piano studies.  It is evident in his brilliant 32nd note runs and precise technique.  But like the aforementioned, Prester also plays with emotion, feeling, joy and improvisational bliss.  His partners on the disc revel

www.accuraterecords.com

Agachiko is the group led by Boston-based vocalist, lyricist and composer Gabrielle Agachiko. 

From the Basie, Kenton and Buddy Rich bands to Mel Torme and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Al Porcino's trumpet sound brightened any band.

Outline Records

89.1 Jazz hits a high note this morning with a new CD from soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom – Sixteen Sunsets – and a beloved classic – My Favorite Things – from  John Coltrane.  Linda Yohn is in with 89.1 Jazz at 9 streaming on WEMU.org and on 89.1 WEMU.

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This evening marks an Ann Arbor music milestone. Bassist Paul Keller celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Paul Keller Orchestra. 

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Yuletide Hideaway  by Karrin Allyson should not be hidden in the corner of the WEMU stacks.  This is one of the finest Christmas jazz recordings released in a great while.  

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Pianist Jimmy Amadie helped shape the piano sound of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and modern jazz through his students.  He passed away on December 10th. 

We remembered him Friday on 89.1 Jazz with selections from his final recording: Live! At The Philadelphia Museum of Art.  

Playlist found here: 

Holiday Wishes 3 Is a beautiful double CD set covering all styles of music to benefit the Toledo area Make-A-Wish Foundation.  We’ll check out jazz selections from Holiday Wishes 3 this morning including tunes by The Cakewalkin’ Jass Band and Lori LeFevre.  

I will share the new music on 89.1 Jazz at 9 streaming on wemu.org and on 89.1, WEMU.

Singer Vanessa Rubin and saxophonist Don Braden have been friends since the early 1980s.  Nearly 30 years later they released their first CD together: Full Circle.  This is a very soulful, blues-influenced session due in no small part guitarist Dave Stryker, organist Kyle Koehler and drummer Cecil Brooks III completing the ace band.  Full Circle by Vanessa Rubin and Don Braden premieres this morning on 89.1 Jazz

This morning we salute friends…those people who understand us, help us through rough times, cheer us up and tell us the truth even when we don’t want to hear it.  The important power of friendship this morning on 89.1 Jazz with Linda Yohn streaming on wemu.org and on 89.1, WEMU.

http://bobbywatson.com/

 Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson believes that music is a tool for greater good.  His new CD, Check Cashing Day is a stirring jazz tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech and to the greater good it inspires.  Linda Yohn will feature

 This morning on 89.1 Jazz.  Music starts at 9am streaming at on wemu.org and on 89.1, WEMU.

Thanksgiving is one of America’s greatest days of celebration - and great food! WEMU gets you in the mood with our annual Food Song Festival! Today we're celebrating the cooks, the diners and the delicacies from soup, salad and savory main courses to dessert and drinks. And – we have fun!

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While Chicago may be America’s blues mecca, Detroiters are making a significant international impact in blues today, especially Seward Shah, better known as "Harmonica Shah”.  Now on the illustrious Electro-Fi label from Toronto, Detroiter Harmonica Shah has not changed his gritty, earthy, raw and rocking urban blues style one iota.  His songs reflect the deep heartbreak of living in present day Detroit while his classic harmonica licks reflects the birth of urban blues by Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Otis Spann.  If you were ever tempted to think that real blues is a thing of the past, Havin’ Nothin Don’t Bother Me by Harmonica Shah will banish that thought.

MORE: Enter to Win this Electro-Fi CD set from WEMU-FM

Harrison Kennedy’s new Electro-Fi CD, Soulscape is another masterpiece of basic blues with Detroit connections.  Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Harrison Kennedy gained national fame as a member of the Detroit R&B group, The Chairmen Of The Board. They recorded for the Holland-Dozier-Holland Invictus label with hits such as Give Me Just A Little More Time and Skin I’m In. Edward Holland gave Kennedy 75 dollars to buy a guitar which he used to write many hits for the group.  

Harrison Kennedy is still a prolific songwriter but has added a variety of acoustic instruments to his blues arsenal.  On Soulscape you will hear his proficiency on banjo, mandolin, harmonica, spoons, fife, percussion and bread pan!  But, what will really touch you is his pliant voice and the poetry of his heartfelt lyrics.  His songs examine the eternal human condition and our modern miseries.  As with Havin’ Nothin Don’t Bother Me, by Harmonica Shah, Soulscape by Harrison Kennedy will satisfy your soul’s craving for serious blues and roots music.

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Piano-bass-drums.  How often have you heard a WEMU host repeat that instrumental combination?  More than you can count.  Yet, this trio format remains a source of endless variation and fascination.  A prime example of the possibilities is the new CD The Endless Mysteries by pianist George Colligan. 

 You have heard WEMU hosts repeat Colligan’s name for twenty years.   We discovered him in 1993 as the pianist for saxophonist Ron Holloway.  His debut recording as a leader, Activism followed in 1996 on Steeplechase Records.  Since then Colligan has created a body of work for solo piano and ensemble that deserves consideration for his compositions and technique.  

Jeff Haas of the New Jazz Archive stops by the WEMU studios ahead of the 100th anniversary of  his father, broadcasting legend,  Karl Haas' birth.  And to talk about a few new programs spearheaded by Jeff to advance the legacy of jazz to new generations. 

Listen to the full interview here: 

  

Ahead of his new CD release, Dave Sharp sits down with Linda Yohn in the WEMU studio to talk about about  his upcoming 5:01 Jazz performance, the release of his new album Worldslife as a musician, and more on this Halloween morning. 

Listen to the full-length interview from 89.1 WEMU:

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