Hazen Schumacher passed away this Saturday morning in Ann Arbor.
The name Hazen Schumacher means many things to many people. He was a family man first of all – loving husband, father and grandfather. As a public figure Hazen is remembered with respect at The University of Michigan as a professor of communications and as one of the early pioneers of WUOM, now known as Michigan Radio. Along with providing guidance to WUOM management, Hazen Schumacher brought national recognition to the station for his syndicated program Jazz Revisited. It was distributed by WUOM and NPR from 1967 through 1997.
Many jazz fans cite the program as their introduction to traditional jazz, swing and music of the big band era and it was carried by over 200 NPR stations at the height of its popularity.
Hazen Schumacher’s collection of 60,000 78 rpm recordings spanned the years of 1917 through 1947 and was stored at WUOM. The records are now stored at Jazz Museum Bix Eiben in Hamburg, Germany and 24 Jazz Revisited programs can be sampled at any time from the museum’s website. The huge collection included music by recognizable figures of the early jazz and swing era such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie along with incredible rarities from Jack Jenny’s Orchestra, swing harpist Casper Reardon, clarinetist Irving Fazola and many others. If you are curious about the music and the program, search for Hazen’s beautiful book: A Golden Age Of Jazz Revisited 1939-1942 published by NPP books in 2008. The fully-illustrated volume includes a double CD of classic jazz. As you read, you’ll develop an appreciation for Hazen’s conversational and sincere communication style. Yes, the music was fantastic but it was Hazen’s meticulous research and his warm, enthusiastic demeanor that helped make sense of classic jazz for a younger generation.
I count myself in that generation. I enjoyed Jazz Revisited on WOSU in Columbus and WYSO from Yellow Springs, Ohio in the 1970s and ‘80s. The opening bars of his theme song “What Am I Here For” by The Duke Ellington Orchestra would stop me in my tracks. Listening to Hazen’s 30 minute program led me to the treasures in my mother’s personal record collection and the historic recordings in the Columbus, Ohio public library. When I began my own jazz radio career in 1977, Hazen Schumacher was a role model. When I joined the WEMU staff in 1987, it was like coming back to an old friend, as Jazz Revisited was on the broadcast schedule. Hazen was a mentor to many WEMU staff members including Michael Jewett, Arwulf Arwulf, John Assenmacher, Paul Townsend and former General Manager, Arthur Timko.
1987 was a great year for jazz in Ann Arbor. Bassist Ron Brooks founded the Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association (SEMJA) to complement The Bird Of Paradise Jazz Club. Hazen Schumacher was the organization’s first vice-president. He maintained that position for many years. His special skills as a strong communicator and concerned diplomat were essential as SEMJA drew up by-laws and experienced the growing pains of a new organization.
Hazen’s jazz activities beyond SEMJA included his scholarly Jazz Colloquiums at The University of Michigan. He helped bring the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors to Ann Arbor for their annual convention. Jazz fans still remember his festive New Year’s Eve jazz parties and concerts with James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band.
On Sunday, July 26th, the Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association was to present Hazen Schumacher their highest award for contributions to jazz appreciation: The Ron Brooks Award. The award ceremony will be 2PM at Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor and will include a tribute by Paul Klinger’s Easy Street Jazz Band featuring pianist James Dapogny.
We will miss Hazen for his contributions to The City of Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan, WUOM, The Ann Arbor Summer Festival, WEMU and SEMJA 's jazz appreciation.