Ed Beach, host of the radio show “Just Jazz”, dies at 86


Ed Beach, the host of a popular jazz radio show in the 1960s and 1970s who drew listeners in New York and elsewhere with his sonorous voice, eclectic tastes, vast erudition, and pleasantly irascible temperament, died on December 25 in Eugene, Ore He was 86 years old and lived in Eugene.

Mr. Beach has died of natural causes, his son Mark said.

“Just Jazz,” Mr. Beach’s program, broadcast on WRVR (106.7 FM in New York), the Riverside Church radio station, from 1961 to 1976. It was rebroadcast in several other cities.

Mr. Beach was trained as an actor and his impeccable diction gave the show a certain cantankerous seriousness. As was his extensive knowledge of his subject matter: he was trained as a pianist and jazz singer, a personal collection of vinyl records that numbered in the thousands and, according to his admirers, a scholarly understanding of social, historical and musical contexts. in which jazz was made.

Credit…Marc beach

While there were other well-received jazz shows on the radio at the time, his fans said few compared to Mr. Beach’s when it comes to ardor and information.

“He was a true illustration of how to do it with class, record information and reverence,” jazz historian Phil Schaap said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “It hadn’t been done that way before.

“Just Jazz” often devoted an entire show to a single performer or ensemble. Airing Monday through Saturday, it could go in any given week from Ma Rainey to Louis Armstrong, Charles Mingus and Kid Thomas Valentine and His Algiers Stompers, a New Orleans band.

Mr. Beach provided meticulous credit for every track he played ?? name the title, the label and the performers ?? but otherwise kept his patter to a minimum. He reserved a certain choice on the air with the record companies, which he accused of underpaying the musicians. Every now and then he lambasted his own listeners, many of whom he knew were recording the show instead of supporting artists by buying their albums.

Edward Alexander Beach was born January 16, 1923 in Winnipeg, Canada; her family eventually settled in Portland, Oregon. As a young man he performed across the West with a jazz trio and in 1949 graduated with a BA in theater. of Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

Credit…Marc and Evelyn Bernheim / Rapho Guillumette

Mr. Beach did graduate work in theater at Cornell and for several years performed in summer theater, regional theater and on New York stages such as the Equity Library Theater. He joined WNYC as a classic disc jockey in the late 1950s.

WRVR began broadcasting in January 1961 and Mr. Beach was hired as a classical DJ a few months later. Before the end of the year, “Just Jazz” was born.

WRVR was sold in 1976. Mr. Beach resigned shortly thereafter.

After an early marriage that ended in divorce, Mr. Beach married L. Karen Lafky in 1950. This marriage also ended in divorce. Besides his son, Mark Peter Beach, from his marriage to Mrs. Lafky, he is survived by three grandchildren.

Mr. Beach returned to Oregon in 1977, resumed playing music part-time, and spent many hours cataloging his record collection, his son said.

In 1980 WRVR became WKHK, with a country format. It is now WLTW, also known as Lite FM.


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