Music News from WEMU

This morning's 89.1 Jazz  program reflected the unique musical experience of Monday evening's landmark concert: "From The Cass Corridor To The World: A Celebration Of Detroit's Musical Golden Age".   Perhaps we need an occasional reminder regarding the wealth, breadth and depth of our regional talent.  The "reminder" collected by University Musical Society with assistance from pianist Geri Allen, bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Karriem Riggins and all of their s

Living Music / UM School Of Music

Our short program was packed with music to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to get us ready for President Obama's second inaugural ceremony and tonight's special concert: "From Cass Corridor To The World: A Celebration Of Detroit's Golden Age Of Music". Thank you for choosing to listen to WEMU on this special day.

Aguanko's "Elemental" Tops "Sweet Sixteen"

Jan 17, 2013
Jen Prouty

It is no surprise that "Elemental" the new CD by conguero/composer Alberto Nacif and his magnificent ensemble "Aguanko" topped WEMU's "Sweet Sixteen" from January 7th through the 13th.   We will always support great regional talent along with international music figures, but Alberto Nacif means more to WEMU than just great regional talent:  he is family.  Today's "Cuban Fantasy" program on Saturdays at 7PM grew out of an interview that Alberto did with evening jazz host Michael G.

The first few weeks of a new year are rough on hosts of free-form music programs.   The big year-end push is over, the holiday recordings are retired and fresh music is yet to arrive in the mail or come via download.  Thankfully at WEMU, we were able to snag some strong new music in late November and early December of 2012 to keep us jamming in to 2013.  One of of our most delightful discoveries was "The Crossing" by The Menahan Street Band".  I wrote a long article on their associations and genesis last week, so for more information check out the previous post. 

"The Crossing", the newest offering for The Menahan Street Band, is a two year journey in music.  The outfit of multi-instrumentalists is the house band for Dunhan Records, a subsidiary of Daptone Records - the label that launched the careers of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings as well as The Budos Band.   The Menahan Street Band's star rose when their 2008 recording, "Make The Road By Walking" was sampled by hip-hop leaders Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Kid Cudi and more.  In 2011 they backed funky soul sensation Charles Bradley on his highly acclaimed "No Time For Dreaming".  2012 Brought us "The Crossin

5:01 Jazz Series For 2013

Winard Harper has the "Sweet 16" top spot

Dec 19, 2012

Between December 10th and the 16th, WEMU hosts played over 160 different new releases, so for one disc to rest atop that widely varied selection is indeed a rare honor.  We are pleased to reveal that the leader of that week's "Sweet 16" was drummer Winard Harper and his magnificent group, The Jeli Posse.

Organist Chester "CT" Thompson Tops Sweet 16

Dec 12, 2012

While many media outlets are putting 2012 "to bed" for the next month, WEMU hosts continue to discover exciting new music to keep you grooving in 2013.  One of our recent discoveries is "Mixology" by veteran jazz organist Chester "CT" Thompson.   


Ellen Rowe, jazz pianist and composer, the current Chair of the Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation along with flugelhornist, Music School Professor, and program founder Ed Sarath sit down with Linda Yohn of WEMU to talk about 25 years and beyond of the Jazz and Contemplative Studies Programs at the University of Michigan.

Bettye LaVette again claims "Sweet 16" top spot

Dec 4, 2012

As we WEMU hosts continue to be grateful to you, our listeners for your generous support, the new CD "Thankful 'N Thoughtful" by former Detroiter Bettye LaVette resonates with us.  Her new disc was the most-played recording on WEMU from November 26th through December 1st.  This week's "Sweet 16" is a fine cross-section of WEMU offerings from the modern-day boogie-woogie and roots music of pianist and singer Julian Fauth to the supremely soulful organ jazz sessions from home town hero, saxophonist Ben Jansson and the first-time appearance of west-coast jazz organ legend Chester "CT" Thompson

When I opened the package containing "Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right" by pianist, singer and guitarist Julian Fauth, I knew that WEMU hosts would be happy to find this in the library.  His 2005 CD, "Songs Of Vice And Sorrow" was a host and listener favorite even though Julian was then a relatively young and unknown performer.  When I put the 2012  sound of Julian Fauth into the player, I was fully convinced.  This disc is tailor-made for WEMU. 

Bettye LaVette back on top of WEMU "Sweet 16"

Nov 14, 2012

Former Detroiter Bettye LaVette has always defied description and categorization.  While many of her contemporaries followed the dictates of their record label or management, Bettye forged her own identity.  There was always a dark edge to Bettye's voice - even in her early R&B sessions such as "My Man - He's A Lovin' Man", recorded when she was 16 years old. 

A week after their Magic Bag Theater show, WEMU hosts continued to feature the timely and topical CD "Not Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead" by 7-string guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola.  Both musicians are based in San Francisco and have been improvising partners for over 20 years.  Neither has permitted their long association to allow them to slip in to cliches, reliable patterns or tawdry tricks.  Rather, the two are stretching the definition of the jazz - jam band sound to include their duets and creative compositions.   In WEMU's quest to identify the best new

Whether recording with a group or going solo, guitarist Charlie Hunter has long been a favorite of both WEMU listeners and hosts.  His newest offering pairs the 7-string guitarist up with drummer Scott Amendola.  Their depth of musical sound makes it hard to believe that there are just two musicians, but these two are so adept and so complementary that they fill all the musical spaces.  They will also likely fill all the spaces when they appear at The Magic Bag Theater in Ferndale on Thursday, November 1st. 

Supporting regional musicians with airplay remains a highest priority at WEMU.  As you peruse the "Sweet 16" for October 15th through the 21st, take note of the many recordings on the list with regional connections including the topper, "Thankful 'N Thoughtful" by Detroiter, soul siren Bettye LaVette.

Buoyed by being selected as WEMU's blues fundraising premium, Robert Cray's newest CD, "Nothin' But Love" was the most played disc this past week on 89.1.   Even if Cray's recording hadn't been chosen as a WEMU "thank-you gift", it would likely have risen to the top of our "Sweet Sixteen" by virtue of it's excellence.

In anticipation of her appearance at The Ark on October 11th, WEMU hosts featured the outstanding new CD "33 1/3" by the new "Queen of the Blues", Shemekia Copeland.   Ms. Copeland actually comes from blues royalty  --  her father is the legendary blues guitarist and composer, Johnny Clyde Copeland.  

Never let it be said that when a major artist comes to town, that WEMU doesn't get behind the show and share music with listeners to let them know about the music they'll hear.  We got behind last week's Joe Jackson concert at The Michigan Theater featuring violinist Regina Carter in a real big way. 

Catching Up With Alberto Nacif

By Marc S. Taras


Perhaps it was because the lead track on Marcus Miller's new CD "Renaissance" was called "Detroit" that the disc resonated so soundly with WEMU listeners and staff.  Whatever the reason, it has become a fast favorite of listeners and staff alike. 

Nacif & Espinosa

in the Ann Arbor Holiday Inn (Plymouth Rd. and US 23) Also see Marc Taras Interview with Dr. Alberto Nacif below.

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

 Dr. Alberto Nacif & Friends (CD Release Party)
   As an interpreter of Latin jazz, percussion master Nacif fronts his own ensemble that is more horn driven, adapting post-bop standards while adding a few originals.

We knew it was just a matter of time, but the WEMU staff knew that "33 1/3" by Shemekia Copeland would eventually claim the top spot on our "Sweet 16".  If any CD validates her standing as the successor to Koko Taylor as "Queen Of The Blues", this one surely does.  She has emerged on a new label with new repertoire, but her commitment to true, deep blues is as strong as ever. 

When The Dirty Dozen Brass Band returned to Southeastern Michigan for a show at The Magic Bag Theater, WEMU hosts seized the opportunity to play selections from one of their favorite bands of all times.  We doubt that WEMU listeners minded hearing the ensemble again, as the band was beloved at venues such as The Ark, The Frog Island Music Festival, The Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival and Sully's in Dearborn. 

Nina Simone Simms-Bentley

Trumpeter Christian Scott delivered not only one of the most meaningful jazz CDs of 2012 with "Christian Atunde Adjuah", but he also delivered one of the most inspirational live performances of the year with his appearance in the "Tribute to Treme" at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival.   Scott's music is "as serious as your life", yet is imbued with energy and a celebration of life. 



YPSILANTI, MI: - 89.1, WEMU’s Music Director, Linda Yohn, was named ‘Jazz Programmer of the Year,’ in a major market, for the fourth straight year Thursday, August 30, at the JazzWeek Summit's annual awards dinner in Detroit. The summit precedes the Detroit Jazz Festival, in downtown Detroit over Labor Day weekend.