Hhaving recently fallen under the spell of pianist Bill Evans, I went to find his genre of jazz on the radio. I have a photo of my ideal resort in mind. Many years ago Donald Fagen wrote a song called The Nightfly. It described the story of a lone disc jockey, spending the night on the fictional WJAZ, which offered “jazz and conversation from the foot of Mount Belzoni”. The album art showed Fagen doing two things you wouldn’t be allowed to do in a modern radio studio: one is smoking, the other is playing records.
The Internet gives us access to hundreds of jazz stations, most of which come from the United States, the homeland of music. These range from the gospel WBGO (wbgo.org) in Newark, New Jersey, which Esquire magazine calls “the best jazz station in the galaxy,” at the machine AccuJazz (accujazz.com) which describes itself as “the future of jazz radio”. This means 75 different streams, carefully categorized by era or style. From Tacoma, Washington comes KPLU (kplu.org), a member station of National Public Radio offering two services: one a news and jazz service featuring NPR favorites like All Things Considered and Car Talk between music, the other a 24/7 jazz service. hours featuring Wes Montgomery, Lou Donaldson, Pat Metheny et al 24 hours a day, with occasional interruptions by a real human being. There’s a lot of cool jazz coming out of French radio FIP (fipradio.fr) whose praises have already been sung in this column. I finally found Evans closer to home on Jazz dinner (weekdays, 7 p.m., Jazz FM) which was nice. However, no one yet offers quite what the WJAZ in my head is playing.
Yeats: the man and the echo (Sunday, 7:45 p.m., Radio 4) takes the poem An Irish Aviator Predicts Death and reuses it as a drama that stays in the car to find out how it ends in subprime Ireland in the age of internet gambling. It is written by Lynda Radley and narrated by Eugene O’Hare.
In his previous projects for Archive Hour, satirist Joe Queenan featured programs on anger, irony, and blame. None of them sound quite like A brief history of shame (Saturday, 8 p.m., Radio 4), the subject of which has become even hotter since the recent publication of Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Ronson can be heard here, along with Peter Viggers (AKA the Duck House MP) and, the king of this particular castle, Bill Clinton.
In the Sunday feature: A most ingenious paradox: loving G&S to death (Sunday, 6:45 p.m., Radio 3), Gilbert & Sullivan will be dragged to the bar of contemporary sensibilities to explain their enduring popularity, a state of affairs scandalously unsanctioned by “intelligent” opinion. It has contributions from Mike Leigh, Jonathan Miller, and a bunch of academics and performers, who I hope will tell Tyrants Of Now where to get off.
Rachel Nicholson was one of the born triplets of artists Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, neither of whom were able to spend much time away from their jobs to raise them too closely. Unsurprisingly, she remembers developing a love for music early in her life. In Private passions (Sunday, 12 p.m., Radio 3), she talks from her attic in Hampstead about how music informs her painting. I am grateful to him for teaching me about Scarlatti’s invigorating harpsichord music, which was a welcome novelty to me.