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.

Sunday Wilde

Sunday Wilde’s new CD, He Gave Me A Blue Nightgown was just perfect for a Friday premiere on WEMU when we play it a little loose and fun getting ready for the weekend

We welcome Asuka Kakitani to the realm of expressive composers and arrangers with Bloom. Chronologically, March 21st is the second day of spring for 2013, but the weather proved otherwise. So, we dreamed of spring and listened to new music evoking rebirth and the beauty of nature by Asuka Kakitani and her Jazz Orchestra this morning on 89.1 Jazz.

Today we honored a woman who helped shape the history of jazz as a musician, band leader, composer, 

Blue is more than a color – it is a basic musical form and blue is a mood. Madeleine Peyroux explores all aspects of blue with her new CD The Blue Room. However, this isn’t a blues CD.

With Signs Of Life, singer Rondi Charleston breathes new life into jazz classics and shares highly personal yet universal reflections on life. During Women’s History Month we are focusing on women of jazz and blues past and present. Rondi Charleston’s Signs Of Life is one of the most powerful and personal discs to be premiered this March.

One of the pleasures of working with the talented team of WEMU music hosts is discovering what the weekly consensus of the “most-played” recording will be. Each Sweet 16 list topper reveals another aspect of the WEMU variety. During the week of March 4th through the 10th, the most played recording was Ciudad De Los Reyes by Gabriel Alegría and his Afro-Peruvian Sextet. 

Bryan Ferry, leader of the 1980s musical art rock sensation, Roxy Music, is also a brilliant musical historian. With the new CD The Jazz Age he has merged his two passions. He took Roxy Music favorites such as "Love Is The Drug", "The Bogus Man" and "Slave To Love" and orchestrated them for a 1920s style acoustic big jazz band. 

Water and Earth Reviewed

Mar 14, 2013

With Water And Air, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt re-affirms his dedication to modern black music. Over the years he has absorbed the foundations of jazz: call-and-response, pacing, drama, interplay and tension and release.  It is especially that final principle that operates throughout Air and Water.

"This music isn't about a change in the direction as much as it's about strengthening my commitment to my art at present." - Jeremy Pelt.

In 2001 bassist Robert Hurst assembled some of his best musical friends for a recording session that is no longer hiding on a hard drive. 

It is undeniable: siblings sound great together making music whether sisters, brothers or both.  Some legendary examples are The Carter Family, The Haden Family, Phil & Buddy Guy, The Avett Brothers, The Isley Brothers, The Andrews Sisters, The Jackson 5, The Everly Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Katia & Marielle Labèque, The Allman Brothers, The Clayton Brothers and The Pointer Sisters. 

Long Tall Marcia Ball is beloved in the blues world and by WEMU listeners, so when we received a new disc by newcomer Long Tall Deb, we had to see if she could live up the name like Ms. Ball.  Long Tall Deb Landolt is worthy of the name and our attention.

  

Detroit Jazz Festival

WEMU wrapped up February and kicked off March with sixteen excellent choices for “our most played” category.  “The Messenger” by guitarist Kevin Eubanks for Detroit’s Mack Avenue Records was at the top of the list where it deserves to be.  Kevin came from a great jazz family in Philadelphia.  From this essential foundation, Kevin Eubanks became one of Los Angeles’ in demand recording artists and the leader of The Tonight Show Band.  After cooking in the cauldron of these experiences, Kevin Eubanks emerged with a strong individualistic sound on jazz guitar, borrowing liberally from the blues

This morning WEMU premiered "December's Moon" the CD by organist/pianist/accordionist Ron Oswanski. 

  Planning a morning program starts the afternoon before the show. I review new music in the office while working on other tasks and research the next day's musical choices. As I listen to a disc, I immediately think of other music to go with it.

We played various approaches of vibraphone and marimbas with some piano, bass and drums. The initial inspiration for the feature came from "The Bespoke Man's Narrative", the new CD by pianist/composer Aaron Diehl featuring vibraphonist Warren Wolf. Diehl's debut CD has been highly anticipated for over two years!

free-times.com

Even though the official release of In A World Of  Mallets by Jason Marsalis is not until February 19th, we jumped on it immediately at WEMU.  With the panoply of vibes, tubular bells, marimbas and other mallet instruments this recording is like a breath of light, spring air.  Perhaps it’s the New Orleans vibe that percolates throughout the songs or the emergence of a new working group in jazz, but this is a welcome addition to the WEMU playlist.  

José James is simply beyond category. No Beginning No End is a culmination of his career and life weaving threads of jazz, balladry, R&B, classic and neo-soul plus hip-hop into a sensual stream of consciousness.

bayoubuzz.com

While we made sure to stir up a good musical gumbo of your New Orleans Mardi Gras and Brazilian Carnaval favorites this morning on 89.1 Jazz, it was our pleasure to premiere Smokey Mary by Harry Connick, Jr.  Smokey Mary refers to the signature train float in the Orpheus Parade.  Twenty years ago Harry founded The Krewe of Orpheus, a racially integrated krewe, which was a radically new development in the New Orleans social clubs

whiskeyjacques.com

Although “Three Free Amigos” is only six songs long, this E.P.

NPR

Given the repertoire, it was only natural that Aaron Neville’s “My True Story” would be the most-played CD on WEMU. 

 It is his stroll down memory lane from the “doo wop era”, but it is also the soundtrack of so many of our lives cast through the prism of the pristine voice of Aaron Neville.  

We received many requests for it plus we wanted to call attention to Neville’s interviews on “Morning Edition” from NPR and “Bob Edwards Weekend” about the authentic music and Neville’s undeniable soul.  Pristine is also a way I’d describe the recording’s production values. 

No expense was spared in the mix or mastering.  

Producers Don Was and Keith Richards have created an American treasure with “My True Story”.  If you’re looking for special Valentine’s Day dinner music, this would be perfect.

More:  aaronneville.com/video/

saddleback.edu

While we love to feature the all-time greats of music on WEMU, we also look for deserving unknown ensembles, such as The Aguabella Latin Jazz Band which received their CD premiere for “Baker: Gateway To Death Valley”  this morning.  We had actually played many of these musicians before when they were in the band led by the late, great conga player, Francisco Aguabella.  Today they keep Aguabella’s legacy alive.  Now you know how they found their beautiful name. 

teenytucker.com

This Tuesday was a perfect blues day on WEMU.  The cold and the clouds called for down-home story-filled music.  Our playlist this morning included local blues luminaries Johnnie Bassett and George Bedard along with Columbus Ohio’s blues emissary, Teeny Tucker.

bennygreenmusic.com

The majority of the classic Blue Note recordings of the 1950s and 1960s were characterized by highly conversant horn exchanges and brilliant, supportive rhythm sections.  For Benny Green to pay tribute to that era of jazz with the instrumentation of piano-bass-drums is quite a task.  But, Benny pulls it off with inspiration, energy and attitude. 

natenajar.com

The WEMU playlist this morning included many great guitarists.  My initial inspiration was to promote guitarist Jake Reichbart and his quartet at this afternoon’s free “Sesi Motors 501 Jazz Show” at Rush Street.  But, you can’t build a three and half hour program around one artist.  So, I went to our “new stacks” and checked out a disc that we’d had for a few weeks, gave it try, gave it two thumbs up and got it on the air.   It is “Blues For Night

jazzcafedetroit.com

What a way to celebrate the launch of a new label and a new concept in jazz!  Pianist/composer/arranger Scott Gwinnell’s tribute to heart of Detroit –The Cass Corridor – was the most-played CD on WEMU from January 21st through the 27th.   “The Cass Corridor Story” is also the first release on the new imprint from Mack Avenue Records, Detroit Music Factory.  WEMU has been a strong supporter of Scott Gwinnell for years, so we knew to expect great things from him, but this heart-felt original music exceeded our expectations!

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