Reconnaissance Fly on KZSU, January 7

Reconnaissance Fly Coming to KZSU
Reconnaissance Fly drummer Larry The O, filmed during an on-air performance at KFJC-FM.

Local prog band Reconnaissance Fly is going to play on KZSU this Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 9:00 p.m.

KZSU hosts a band (usually a local one) every Wednesday at 9:00. It’s a show called Wednesday Night Live that’s been running for a very long time. The show hosted bands like Primus and Green Day long before the wide world discovered them. In fact, what’s left of an interview with Primus has been digitized and is in KZSU’s A-file right now.

Anyway. Reconnaissance Fly is a mix of prog and jazz, with lyrics derived from spam emails; I reviewed their first album, Flower Futures, about a year ago. For a taste of the band, you can check out some videos from their on-air performance at KFJC in August. The tune below is a nifty new instrumental written by bassist Tim Walters.

Tune in Wednesday at 90.1 FM in the Bay Area, or anywhere.

Back On-Air

I’ll be doing a fill-in show at KZSU-FM on Wednesdays 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon Pacific, starting this week and running through Sept. 21*.

Yes, I’m back on the air!  It’s going to be awkward. There really is a sense of timing and rhythm to radio DJ’ing, and it takes a while to get your chops back after even a few weeks’ break. I’ll also have to take time to sift through the newest music at the station, to see what I’ve missed this summer.

So, please tune in:  90.1 FM if you’re on the peninsula, in San Jose, down Highway 101 (north of Gilroy), or in the East Bay. for the rest of the world and especially for office-dwellers. Nothing cheers co-workers more than a generous chunk of Tim Berne music followed by a hardy blast of Merzbow.

(* The Stanford students will be back by Sept. 21, so I might cede that day to one of them.)

Back on the Air

… In small, temporary spurts, at least. Did my first KZSU shift in six months.

I did an impromptu sub spot for DJ Fo this morning, sticking mostly to jazz that wasn’t too extremely out there. Towards the end of the show I made room for the blues and world music Fo also plays.

You’ll find the playlist here in Stanford’s Zookeeper database.

It looks like I’ll also be on during prime time Saturday night, March 26 (9:00 p.m. to midnight, Pacific time). I’m hoping to play some Cardiacs music to plug the upcoming benefit show for Tim Smith (May 8 at Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, as noted in the previous blog post). And the rest would be the usual adventurous jazz, improv, noise, and whatnot. Please tune in!

sfSound Hits The Airwaves

The environment for the arts has turned even more hostile in this country, and creative music is particularly hard-hit. The selloff of college radio frequencies makes it harder and harder to find anything interesting on the airwaves.

The Internet is not an adequate substitute, as I think I’ve said before. At the same time, though, it’s a way to keep an interested audience nourished, whether it’s through podcasts or live presentations.

Enter sfSound Group, the local modern-classical troupe that probably cringes at the term “modern classical.” For some time now, Matt Ingalls and crew (or possibly just Matt) has/have been presenting recorded works through sfSound Radio, an automated shuffle-play Webcast. (Warning: that link automatically launches the audio broadcast).

And now, sfSound Radio is going live on Fridays, presenting a mix of concerts, interviews, and … other things. File this coming Friday, March 4, under “other” or possibly “aleatoric musique concrète,” as they’ll be hanging a microphone out of an Oakland window and broadcasting the results live for 24 hours.

Future broadcasts include interviews with local artists Wobbly and David Slusser … and a March 18 live broadcast of UK saxophonist John Butcher (right) performing with Grosse Abfahrt, the local-plus-Euro-guests improv troupe (see here).

Later on: Tom Duff will be presenting a five-day broadcast of an Alvin Lucier work, and Matthew Goodheart will present an extended interview with Italian saxophonist Gianni Gebbia.

I like this development. It fills a gap that even college and public radio increasingly refuse to acknowledge. Granted, I’ve dropped the ball myself by abandoning my post at KZSU, but the station’s “out-there” quotient is still being kept alive by DJs such as Your Imaginary Friend (Wednesdays, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Pacific time!)

This might be a good moment to rejoice in the wealth of independent radio that’s still broadcasting in the Bay Area:

  • (Save KUSF!)
  • KZSU
  • KFJC
  • KALX
  • KPFA
  • KCSM — Plain jazz, you might call it, but very much a resource to cherish. And they do play the outside stuff, late Thursday nights.

New Time: Friday 8-10 a.m.

I should mention: Starting this week, my radio show has moved again.  I’ll be on Fridays now, 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

The show follows DJ Fo and his excellent “No Cover, No Minimum,” a mix of jazz (old and new), world music, and blues.  Maybe one of these weeks, I’ll play tracks from the exact same albums he does, but in reverse order. (Not kidding!)

The KZSU schedule is viewable here.  We’re listenable at or, of course, on the actual radio at 90.1 FM in most of the Bay Area.

What I’m Doing Here

During college, while exhausting my pop/prog phase, I felt drawn toward jazz. The things I found — mid ’60s post-bop, or ’80s smooth jazz — were enjoyable enough but didn’t deliver the “complexity” I’d been promised by the critics. Not that I could perceive all the harmonies and polyrhythms in there, but it wasn’t the kind of music I was looking for. I wanted something more.

I started consciously listening to college radio again. I’d done this in high school, to stun myself with the brutality of hardcore punk (discovering Squeeze, of all bands, along the way) but now started searching the dial for the more opaque, abstract music I knew college stations played.

During one of these midnight radio binges, some station played “Bloodcount” by, confusingly enough, Tim Berne‘s Bloodcount. I was mesmerized. I wanted to hear more. I walked into Tower Records — which, even as late as 1996, was still carrying plenty of worthwhile titles — and amazingly found the exact album, Low Life, on the shelves. I bought it and listened through. And it was near the end, during a particularly jumping, tangly written passage followed by a stunning Jim Black solo, that I knew I wasn’t just kidding myself into liking this music. I’d found a new home.

Why do I do the radio show, then? Why this blog? It’s not because I’m expecting to convert the masses. No, it’s because when I decided I wanted to seek out this music, it was there for me. And I want to help it be there for the next person who comes looking.