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Jazz Gems
Searching through material from radio shows I did when substituting for Gerald Hodge on Hornby Radio I came across one from a series titled Alphabet Jazz. There had been three shows posted up to the letter J. Posting this broadcast [K-L-M] would be a suitable tribute to my friend Gerald Hodge who passed into the spirit world on Saturday, November 18th, 2017.

Originally Broadcast on
Hornby Island Radio [CHFR-FM – 96.5]
Sunday, April 19th, 2015

This 2 hour broadcast features Lee Konitz, Roland Kirk, Steve Lacy,
Jackie McLean, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Morgan, Charles Mingus and the Modern Jazz Quartet.

A Story for
Gerald Hodge…

Before the advent of television it would be safe to say that every household in England possessed at least one radio, and ours would be the source of much of the information that created my as yet undeveloped ideology. It’s well known that the English have a peculiar and somewhat twisted sense of humour, a humour that mocks our everyday character, and when developed by brilliant humorists becomes very dada-like in content. My favourite comedy show was the Goons which relied on the absurdity of our everyday lives, often mocking sacred cows or distorting current news items. As there was only one radio in our household and as the daily activities were only put aside for family shows it was necessary to crouch, sitting on a chair, with my ear glued to the speaker. “He’s listening to that silly stuff again” – Lil would say. “Leave him alone” – Percy would respond from inside the pages of his Daily Mirror.

Spike Milligan was the most important of them, his astute observations constantly stimulating my thinking, the bizarre content of his writing opening up my gradually developing character. From out of his brilliant, if somewhat erratic imagination, along with most of the scripts for the Goon shows, came his love of jazz which was featured as an integral part of the programs. Performed by the Ray Ellington Quartet [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVhNeVMq-K8]. Although Spike did not play music on the show he was in fact a talented musician who had in previous decades performed in jazz and comedy groups, singing and playing guitar and trumpet.

In my early teens I succumbed to tuberculosis, a common ailment in the fifties, and was isolated in a sanatorium for 15 months. To borrow a Victorian turn of phrase: Registered as a consumptive. The nearby village is named Pill.

Fred, the elderly gentleman I shared a chalet with is an advanced consumptive, and we have little in common, nothing much to talk about, so to shut out his constant hacking I listen on earphones to the piped-in radio provided by Rediffusion. It also has a channel that broadcast programs, mostly chat, originating from a room in the main building. Patients were allowed, when able, to participate. There was a collection of old 78rpm records in cardboard boxes. The labels, some with Nipper attentively listening, are visible through the hole cut in their brown paper sleeves, showing the recordings to be on His Masters Voice, Columbia, Decca and Brunswick, the music played by the likes of Joe Loss, Jack Parnell, Ray Noble, Geraldo, Woody Herman and Count Basie. Most are scratchy and worn from overuse, some feature the odd soloist, just a smidgen of jazz, but of enough interest to launch me, for half-an-hour once a week, into an early career as a disc jockey.

Years later in Toronto college radio stations would allow me the opportunity to present jazz music beyond the popular idea, allow me to introduce the staid Toronto world to the music of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and later to present my own music live. My first recording, “Conversation Pieces” duetting with pianist Stuart Broomer was a CBC radio show. [http://rantanddawdle.ca/2013/09/29/conversation-pieces-toronto-1976/]

Hornby Island Radio first saw the light of day in 2004 as a low-powered [5 watt] station, the license described as developmental. Three years later it was assigned its current frequency 96.5FM by the CRTC [Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission]. The station never went on air and the license lapsed. On another three years to August 17th, 2010 when the Hornby Island Community Radio Society received a new license from the CRTC, and on April 2nd, 2014 the station received approval to operate under a standard community radio license at 96.5 MHz at 50 watts.

Jazz Gems, a weekly Sunday afternoon show, was the brainchild of my long-time friend Gerald Hodge. Looking back through my posts I find that I joined him five years ago in November 2012 for our version of “Desert Island Discs” based on the popular English radio show of the same name [http://rantanddawdle.ca/2012/11/10/desert-island-discs/].
Prior to that are two October shows titled “The Vibraphone” and “Sunday Gospel”.

When Gerald needed a break from Jazz Gems; a vacation perhaps, a photographic show in preparation, or just an evening with his extended family, he handed the program over to me, allowing the opportunity to present music by some of my favourite artists that included Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor, Duke Ellington… similar fare to those days back in Toronto.

Gerald was a special person who will be sorely missed, his enthusiasm for jazz was not confined to radio. He could often be found with his wife Sharron at Friday night jazz down at the Thatch pub. He was also a talented landscape photographer and conducted extensive research on regional development issues (especially the viability of small towns), consulted on public policy issues (including a second airport for Toronto), became a film producer, a CBC radio commentator and wrote (or co-wrote) four books. “The Geography of Aging: Preparing Communities for the Surge in Seniors” and “Planning Canadian Communities” being two of them.

End Notes:
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – St. Michael’s College, Toronto [Circa 1970s]
photograph bill smith
Steve Lacy & Roswell Rudd – Lush Life NYC – Saturday September 5th, 1982
photograph bill smith
Gerald Hodgephotographer unknown

Encore presentations of my radio shows can be heard at: http://rantanddawdle.ca/category/on-the-radio/

Christmas Treat:
Every year someone asks to hear “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”, a broadcast from December 2012 by Arthur Bull & myself. Originally recorded on CIUT Radio in Toronto somewhere in the late eighties.