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.

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. 

www.karrin.com

  

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.  

allaboutjazz.com

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!

Courtesy photo / Electro-Fi

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:

Stay tuned for more photos and updates from the Detroit Jazz Festival from WEMU.

 

[View the story "Highlights from the 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival" on Storify]

Brad McNett

Linda Yohn sits down with Robert Hurst in the WEMU studio to talk about about  his upcoming Detroit Jazz Festival performance, his new album BoB a Palindrome, life as a musician, and more on this morning's 89.1 Jazz with Linda Yohn


Live In Studio: Rick Roe

Aug 15, 2013

As a pianist, Rick Roe says much with his terrific touch, his surprising song selections and understanding of the importance of the space between the notes.  This morning was truly special as Rick Roe discusses his musical life and his new CD, “Swing Theory” plus, his upcoming CD release concert.

Listen to the full interview here:


Brad McNett / WEMU

Before his performance at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Seth Walker stopped by the  WEMU studios to perform a few acoustic blues songs from his new album, Time Can Change.

Seth also discusses  his unique musical background which spans classical music to raucous rock-n-roll.

Listen to the full interview here:


Two shows of great interest to WEMU listeners are coming up soon at The Ark: blues and roots singer-songwriter Seth Walker on Thursday, August 8th and Ann Arbor’s beloved roots-rock quartet Corndaddy on Friday, August 16th.

Pianist and singer Freddy Cole gets better and better. If it’s possible, there is greater warmth and depth in his husky voice. His phrasing is even more subtle and sly. His sense of rhythm – just slightly behind the beat feels more suspenseful yet playful than before. His chemistry with the band seems to be more organic, tighter and empathetic.

  Is the guitar today’s universal instrument? Actually, the voice is our first and most universal instrument, but the guitar could follow shortly behind it. In permutations from the oud to the cittern, zither, bouzouki and many others, portable stringed instruments are easy to transport and play while singing. These instruments including today’s modern guitars are versatile in all styles of music. 

In late April, Bob Edwards Weekend (Saturdays from 8 to 10AM on WEMU) aired a revealing and insightful interview with pianist and producer Bob James. My curiosity about the new Bob James-David Sanborn collaboration, Quartette Humaine, was piqued. The four weeks of waiting are over and you and I can enjoy this new CD which is one of the finest examples of quartet interplay I’ve heard in a while. Legitimate comparisons will be made between Quartette Humaine and legendary Dave Brubeck Quartet featuring Paul Desmond.

 

johnmedeski.com

Artists reflect the unspoken needs of the viewers, readers and listeners. With A Different Time, pianist John Medeski takes us to that quiet, meditative place that is often out of reach given our frantic lives. Perhaps the age of the piano on which Medeski recorded the pieces has something to do with the classic, contemplative sound of A Different Time. The piano was built by the Gaveau piano manufacturers in central France in 1924. It was constructed in a style that predates the modern piano.

davidarnay.com

I admit it – I’m often skeptical regarding a concept CD from a new artist.  I think to myself - oh they need a gimmick to get to me to listen.  

One of the songs on Musica Para Un Dragon Dormido by pianist and composer Emilio Teubal is The Constant Reinventor. 

As we search for the best new music on  WEMU, we will often feature someone you’ve never heard before but think is worth your time. 

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